Secure your home: Insurer warns of spike in break-ins over festive season

Secure your home: Insurer warns of spike in break-ins over festive season. Picture: File

Secure your home: Insurer warns of spike in break-ins over festive season. Picture: File

Published Dec 15, 2023


With the number of house break-ins on the rise, South Africans are being urged to be careful when it comes to home security over the holiday season.

Figures show that most break-ins occur during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Insurer Auto & General’s claim figures show there are two significant spikes in house break-ins during the year; one in June and another in December, when there’s a startling 48% jump.

Ricardo Coetzee, head of Auto & General Insurance, says this is likely due to people visiting family and friends and leaving homes vulnerable, but also thanks to more high-value goods being on offer due to people buying or receiving gifts.

“The more precautions you take, the bigger the chances that your festive season will be drama-free, which makes it worth every bit of time and money,” said Coetzee.

“Yet, in case disaster does strike, it’s also absolutely vital to remember to add new items to your insurance inventory and insure them at a sufficient replacement value,” he said.

The number of residential robberies reported by the SA Insurance Crime Bureau increased alarmingly between 2022 and 2023, with 5 631 cases reported of instances when victims came face-to-face with the perpetrators.

For your holiday home safety, Auto & General Insurance offers the following advice:

* All in: Use every security measure available to you, even when you’re home. Leaving a perimeter fence unarmed or a door unlocked creates the perfect opportunity for a criminal to strike.

* Keep an eye: Look out for suspicious vehicles or individuals when leaving and entering your property, especially when you return from a festive shopping spree. Shoppers perceived to be high-value targets are often followed home. Know your neighbours’ routines so that you can better identify suspicious activity.

* Bag the boxes: Don’t pile up empty gift boxes where they are easily visible to criminals. Instead, tear up the boxes and hide them in bins or bags.

* Don’t showcase: Don’t tempt criminals by leaving items in plain sight. Draw the curtains at night to keep them from seeing what’s inside and monitoring your movements.

* Mix it up: Mix up your daily routine to make it less predictable for criminals to know when you’ll be home.

* Call for back-up: Notify your security company when you won’t be at home for extended periods. Also ask someone you trust to check on your home, collect your mail and switch on different lights to create the impression that somebody is home.

Coetzee suggested several lines of defence that he says every family should have:

*A sturdy perimeter wall or palisade fence; secure and sturdy access gates and garage doors; an electric fence; security beams; an alarm system linked to a reputable armed response company, including a panic button; burglar bars; and, a CCTV system

The Star