Ensure that you protect yourself from criminal activity when you travel. Picture: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels
Ensure that you protect yourself from criminal activity when you travel. Picture: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

Holiday crime woes: How to ensure you are not a victim during your travels

By Travel Reporter Time of article published Dec 7, 2020

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With many people travelling during the holidays, your safety is essential, and we’re not just talking about Covid-19.

Twitter user @jabzKay recently shared how their cars were broken into at a hotel in Muldersdrift.

She tweeted pictures of the vehicle: "This is how we woke up today, our cars were broken into, nobody saw or heard anything, 3 gates before you reach their premises but NOBODY SAW ANYTHING! Reception, NOBODY SAW OR HEARD ANYTHING." (sic)

She isn't alone. For many South Africans, leaving their homes for a peaceful getaway ends in tragedy and trauma when they return to find their house cleaned out or they fall victim to criminals at their holiday destination.

Charnel Hattingh, Head: Marketing and Communications for Fidelity ADT, said that people go to guesthouses and farms, lodges and chalets to “switch off”, but urges travellers to be vigilant at all times.

"You need to remain vigilant, no matter where you are," she warned.

Before you leave home

She said that travellers need to do a thorough security check of your home before leaving.

"Do not leave anything to chance. Ensure your gate is properly closed and secured and that all doors are locked and windows closed. Preferably, get a reliable person to come and turn lights on and off, open and close curtains and take care of your pets so that it looks like someone is home.

“The most important is to arm your alarm system and outdoor deterrents, like electric fencing and beams. If these are linked to an armed response security provider, you will be alerted on your cellphone if anything happens at home," she said.

At your holiday destination

Hattingh said that guests should not be complacent at their hotel destination. “Holiday accommodation spots are often targeted by criminals because they know people are more relaxed and can be taken by surprise. Sadly, this happens far more often than people are aware," she said.

Hattingh shares five tips for staying safe at your destination:

  • Always speak to the establishment beforehand and ask specifically about security. "Look for reviews online. Do not only rely on what their website says. Getting word-of-mouth referrals is always a good idea," she said.
  • Take care of your valuables by locking them away in a safe or taking them with you when you leave your unit. "Always lock up and close the windows securely."
  • If you are in a remote area, preferably do not sit outside after dark. Bushveld fires and a little after-dinner tipple is wonderfully relaxing, but you can be vulnerable.
  • Ask the manager about panic buttons and emergency contact numbers. "Remember, an emergency is not necessarily only a criminal attack - there could be a fire in your unit or a medical emergency."
  • Just as you should have at home, have a plan of action in place in case your family is held up on holiday. "While it is difficult to stick to a script in such a traumatic event, it will help if everyone in the family, including young children, knows what to do and not to do. The main thing is to ensure everyone remains calm," she said.

“Holidays should be about making lasting memories. By staying vigilant and keeping security top of mind - before you leave home and when you are on holiday - you can ensure your holiday memories are lasting for the right reasons,” Hattingh concluded.

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