The South African Police Service’s latest crime statistics show that residential robberies have increased significantly, up by 7.6% from 4,916 to 5,288 cases from January to March 2021 compared to the previous year.
Quarterly crime statistics reflected double-digit increases in crimes between April and the end of June in South Africa. The statistics reflect the following increases in the different crime categories:
- 60.6% increase in contact crimes such as murder, attempted murder, sexual offences and all categories of assault when compared to the same period last year;
- There were 5,760 murders during the first quarter of the year – an increase of 66.2%;
- 1,385 murders occurred at the home of the victim or of the perpetrator;
- There were 1,340 (33.4%) more residential robberies from April to June 2020 than the corresponding period in the previous financial year;
- 92% increase in trio crimes like house robberies, business robberies and hijackings;
- Burglary at residential premises increased 6.3%.
Claims data from Budget Insurance shows that South Africans are taking note of this crime wave and are increasingly adding security measures to protect their homes.
“It’s good to see that the use of physical security measures is increasing – they are always the first line of defence,” said Susan Steward of Budget Insurance.
“The use of locking bolts has increased consistently over the last three years, with about 75% of customers having them installed. Security gates have similarly increased in use, with 72.2% of customers inside estates and 83.5% of customers outside of estates having them installed.”
Steward said that homes that aren’t thoroughly secured, have only one security measure in place or have one of their security features temporarily disabled are seen as prime targets for criminals.
“Criminals are opportunistic by nature, and our data shows that they will use anything from windows, garages, gates, doors, sliding doors and, in rare cases, roofs to gain access to properties.
“South Africans are advised to do a thorough security audit, and better safeguard themselves as thoroughly as their means allow.”
Steward said that various systems provide additional lines of security that every South African home should consider:
- A sturdy perimeter wall or palisade fence offers privacy and acts as your first line of defence.
- Secure and sturdy access gates and garage doors. Ideally, these should be operated remotely and opened and closed quickly to limit the window of opportunity for criminals. Ensure that gates can’t be lifted off their rails with a crowbar and that gate motors are well hidden and can’t be accessed easily.
- An electric fence offers an extra security barrier and serves as a further deterrent to criminals. Make sure a certified professional installs yours per electric fence compliance regulations. Be sure to check for vulnerable spots where the fence can be bypassed by, for example, stepping on the part of the wall or using a nearby tree for leverage.
- Security beams around your home and inside your home should be set up so that different zones can be activated as needed. This serves as an early warning system, allowing you and your security company more time to react.
- An alarm system that is linked to a reputable armed response company, including a panic button.
- Burglar bars on windows and security gates on all doors – made of rigid materials and fixed in such a way that they can’t be easily bypassed, broken or pried open. Some older homes are especially vulnerable if the weld that fixes burglar bars to the window frame isn’t sturdy.
- Small dogs in the home are a hugely underrated security measure. Their sharp sense of hearing, sight and smell provide an invaluable early warning system.
- CCTV systems are becoming increasingly affordable and offer an easy way for you to keep an eye on your property. You can even monitor your home remotely via a smartphone app. This can provide valuable footage if your home is broken into.
‘If only we detected them earlier’ and ‘if only we were better prepared’ often come too late, when thousands, even tens of thousands of rands in valuables have been lost, Steward said.
“Money invested in comprehensive insurance, as well as proactively beefing up security is money well-spent – keeping yourself and your family safe, while also protecting your assets and giving you complete peace of mind.”
Private security firms continue to find innovative ways to stay ahead of criminal forces and to protects citizens. The country’s largest security firm, Fidelity ADT has started using drones to deter and track criminals attempting to rob homes and property in residential estates.
Fidelity Services group chief executive Wahl Bartmann told MyBroadband that the drones are equipped with long-range thermal imagery and optical camera systems for suspect identification and can patrol a much wider area than ground vehicles.
“We believe drones and the deployment of a mobile drone team will act as a highly effective visible deterrent to criminals and assist to immediately track down and locate criminal elements once an outer perimeter on an estate has been breached, or in any scenario where suspects are at large on a security estate,” he said.
Data from South African insurers also shows that South Africans are taking security into their own hands.