South Africa is a burglar’s paradise, but it doesn’t have to be. You can sleep more soundly and safely by making your house burglar proof. How? By thinking like they do.
Here are six tips to help you turn your home into a burglar’s worst nightmare:
1. Stop a thief before he even gets near your front door
Install detectors at the bottom of your driveway. Alarm-activated, invisible infra-red beams (available at most security shops) will detect a trespasser on your property and send him bolting down the driveway. So too will lights activated by infrared sensors. Mount lights at the bottom of your driveway, at strategic points along your boundary,
and on the walls of your house. Burglars know if they trigger a sensor, you could be onto them within seconds.
2. Confuse potential intruders
Vary your living patterns to make your movements unpredictable. Go to work earlier some days, and come home later on others. When you arrive home in your car, don’t bottle yourself up in the driveway. Park on the pavement, check all around, then walk in through the pedestrian gate. Come out and move the car later, when you’ve got time to check that no-one is watching you. And change your lighting patterns inside too. Keep the stoep light on when you’re in as well as when you’re out. If you’re alone at night, get up from the TV every half hour, and switch a few lights on and off. This way, it looks as though there’s more than one person at home.
3. Don’t give thieves anywhere to hide
Prune trees and bushes so they can’t study your property unseen. Use gravel paths as driveways so you’ll hear unwanted intruders approaching at night. Other great deterrents are “neighbourhood watch” stickers (available from police stations), “beware of the dog” stickers (from hardware stores) on windows and gates, and burglar alarm signs on walls. These all show you’re protecting your property. Most thieves will simply move on rather than risk being caught.
4. Scare away burglars without risking violence
Get a small dog whose bark will wake the entire neighbourhood! Big dogs, such as alsations, boerbulls and dobermans, are a major deterrent to burglars – but so are little ones which make lots of noise. A Maltese poodle or fox terrier with a persistent bark can wake everyone in the area. And this will put a burglar to flight just as quickly.
5. Secure both fixed windows and those that can be opened
Buy the best quality burglar bars you can afford. It’s important to be as diligent fitting the bars as you are buying them. Don’t just screw them into a wooden frame, and note that steel window frames are too thin to be good anchor points. Instead, use bolts and steel plugs to fix bars onto the wall, set at least 15cm clear from the edges of the frame. If you have sliding doors make sure they’re fitted with additional locking bolts which anchor them vertically. And get rid of gates – folding security gates may be more convenient, but they’re not nearly as effective.
6. Protect your cars, bicycles and garden furniture
Ensure they’re hard to take away quickly. Make sure your car has an immobiliser with an alarm activated on illegal entry. Keep bicycles and other items safely stowed and locked in a garden shed or in the house. Lock up any garden
tools and ladders – they can be used to break into your house, shed and other outbuildings. They’ll then be stolen later with the rest of the thieves’ hoard too. And grease drainpipes with a special paint that makes them slippery and hard to climb.