South Africa has witnessed a huge upsurge in crime – particularly violent crime in the past ten years. With these rising crime statistics, how do you make your home safer?
How do you steer clear of hijacking, armed robbery and housebreakings? Reports and videos of people being hijacked in their own driveways or assaulted in their own homes are common, criminals are becoming more audacious by the day, and there seems no end to the soaring crime rate. There are, however, several ways you can make your home less vulnerable – almost all thieves are thwarted by sensible, easy-to-employ precautions.
If possible enclose your property with a strong, reliable fence.
External doors should be covered with a sturdy grille gate and secured with a five-lever mortise lock and a cylinder rim lock. These locks cannot be opened with skeleton keys, and it shouldn’t be possible to pick them. Wooden doors should have two or more bolts. Also, metal plates fitted at the lock and hinges make doors harder to force. If there are plate glass panels in or around the door, replace these with laminated glass. Do fit a security chain that enables you to open the door just far enough to check on visitors. Also, consider fitting an interior door viewer. Many insurance companies refuse to meet burglary claims if your locks do not meet specified requirements. So, check that yours comply with the terms and conditions of your insurance policy.
Key-operated locks should be fitted to all windows. Even professional burglars admit these are a deterrent. Therefore, be careful not to leave the keys in window locks. Try to keep them in a safe but readily accessible place. Remember, you might need those keys in a hurry if there’s a fire. Don’t think small windows cannot be entered; unscrupulous thieves use children to enter the smallest spaces.
It is worth fitting shutters or security grilles to vulnerable windows, but ensure you still have adequate means of escape in the event of a fire. Also: Don’t leave small valuables by an open window, even when you’re in the house. These can be snatched in a second. Skylights and similar windows should be protected with mortise security bolts.
A five-lever mortise lock is advisable for aluminium sliders, plus extra mortise bolts for wooden sliding and French doors. To prevent sliding doors from being levered off their hinges, an additional base-mounted sliding door lock is a good buy. Furthermore, as sliding doors and French doors are manufactured in various materials, check with the supplier to ensure you purchase the appropriate security devices. Have your letterbox mounted on your main entrance door, or at the bottom of the driveway so you won’t have post lying on your porch floor when you’re out.
Other common-sense measures
When leaving your home unattended, remember to close all windows – an open window tempts the opportunist thief. Make sure ladders and tools that could aid entry are locked away out of sight. Don’t leave valuables on view inside your home. Closing the curtains, leaving on a downstairs light and even switching on a radio can deter that opportunist thief.
Timer switches set to turn lights on and off make an empty house seem occupied. Never leave bicycles unattended at the side of your house – these are popular targets for casual thieves. If you’re going away for a few days, cancel newspaper deliveries and ask someone to close your curtains in the evening and open them in the morning. If you belong to a neighbourhood watch scheme, tell your co-ordinator when there will be no one at home. When going on holiday, ensure you label your luggage properly. Use labels that are not easy to view – gangs usually operate at airports noting down addresses from the luggage of departing holiday makers. Also, a dog that barks is an excellent security measure – few burglars will tackle a dog when there are other dog-free properties in the area.