Crime reports have shown that on average between 54 and 57 households fell prey to criminal attacks during the 2014-2015 period. Armed robberies and burglaries are a reality in South Africa. In order to ensure that your household isn’t disrupted by such attacks, you need to take precautions, which include the installation of security doors, swing gates, roller shutters, burglar bars, CCTV and alarm systems.

Although it may seem like overkill for people living in security estates, every additional security barrier and warning system helps to make it as difficult as possible for criminals to gain forced entry. A few tips are shared below to help minimise the likelihood of robberies and burglaries.

Criminals will notice if the dustbins are not placed on the pavement area, or if in a security complex, at the central area on the relevant day of the week. If the bins are left on the curb for a few days, it will also alarm the criminals.

There are drive-by syndicate members that browse streets to gather information. They even notice small details, such as dogs not barking when they press the gate bell or lawn not mowed for a period of time. If you regularly mow the lawn, switch on lights at night, take out the trash, remove junk mail from the openings in the swing gates or the post from the letter box, and water the garden, you should ensure that someone you trust do so for the period that you are not home. Changes in your routine could be noticed.

Of course, the best routine to cause confusion is to have no routine at all. Although there are opportunistic criminals that will break in if they perceive a home to have low security or see that nobody’s home, most of the robberies and burglaries are planned, and they gather information about the targeted family’s routine.

Criminals get information by driving through the neighbourhood at various times, walking in the street to see which houses have dogs, pressing the bell at the swing gate to see who answers, and talking to the gardeners and domestic workers to learn more about their hours of work, and to find out whether there is a safe in the house etc. They thus already know the family’s routine. You need to make sure that the routine changes often, which will make it difficult for them to plan when to break-in.

Most burglaries take place during the day when people are at work, but armed robberies are often staged just when people return home or in the early part of the evening when the television is on, people are busy cooking or relaxing, and when they leave their security swing gates open with the alarms not activated.

Criminals often hide behind walls or in the garden behind trees or bushes, and wait until they have the best opportunity to strike. Having dogs indoors and outdoors helps to make this difficult for the criminals. If you return home after work and find that the dogs don’t greet you at the gate or bark, then don’t enter.

Call the armed response or neighbourhood watch team to enter with you. The attackers often poison dogs during the day and then wait for the owners to return. Of course, having a transparent perimeter fence, such as the ClearVu system available from Maxidor, will make it difficult for the criminals to scale or cut the fence and enter.

A wall gives the perfect hiding place, whereas a see-through wire mesh fence gives visibility from the street to spot criminals if they wait in the garden. Always keep bushes and trees trimmed to reduce hiding places.

Install security swing gates that have a slam lock action for fast closing where needed, and never leave any exit and entrance doors open unless you have security barriers in place. Taking a few precautionary steps can mean the difference between life and death. Remove the element of surprise by being watchful.

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