That end-of-year family vacation is just around the corner. You’ve worked hard this year and it’s time to wind down with your loved ones on the sunny beaches of Mauritius or the golden hills of the Kruger National Park. This is what you have been looking forward to all year long.
We know how you feel, and yes, jumping in the car and rushing off from sheer excitement is what most of us do, but there are a few things to consider, security-wise before you embark on your much-needed break. The last thing you want is to return home from an incredible family holiday, only to find that your home and all your possessions have been ransacked. Unfortunately, this is the reality of living in South Africa – you need to think carefully about your home and what to do and not do before you leave it for an extended period.
It is estimated by Statistics South Africa that a staggering 670 000 households in South Africa were affected by housebreaking or burglary in 2015/16. A further 160 000 households experienced house robberies, which are more violent forms of housebreaking.
Before you leave for that much anticipated holiday, ensure you have a few safety measures in place to avoid any break-ins.
This may seem like the most obvious thing to do before you go on holiday, but some people do forget this important aspect. Make sure your alarm is working one hundred percent. Check that all areas of your home are being monitored by the alarm sensors and that there is no fault anywhere or ‘soft spot’ where criminals could bypass the alarm. Let your security company know that you will be away and ask them to regularly patrol the boundaries to check for any misconduct. If you are going to be in an area where you are unreachable by phone, ask a family member or friend to have their number on standby in case of an emergency.
It may seem like a grand idea to let all of your friends on social media know just how excited you are about your fancy holiday in the Maldives, but they may not be the only ones who are watching. Criminals are extremely clever these days and just as active on social media as the rest of us. Don’t advertise your time away for criminals to take advantage of.
It’s always a good idea to let someone know that you will be away so that they can keep an eye on things for you. Ideally, a neighbour is best as they are in close proximity to your home and will be able to watch things throughout the day. If you are in a complex this is even easier, with lots of neighbours around to check on things for you. Alternatively, ask a friend that lives close by and is happy to help, to pop in every couple of days or so and make sure everything is ok.
Most areas around South Africa have become really good at forming a neighbourhood watch group on Whatsapp or email. Make sure you are a part of this and take advantage of your friendly neighbourhood folk. Let them know that you will be away and for how long, and ask the patrollers to keep their eyes peeled over this period.
The worst thing you can do is shut all the curtains, turn off the lights and tell the world there is nobody home. Try to keep your home looking like there is somewhere there at all times. Leave curtains open that you would usually have open when you are home. Don’t leave unnecessary lights on during the day, but rather install time-sensitive lights that turn on and off at certain times of the day to make it look like someone is home. Don’t leave bags of rubbish sitting outside for everyone to see, rather keep these in a garage or room to put out for the refuse removal when you are home.
It is found that the majority of house break-ins occur at nighttime, sitting at a high of 49.4%. This should indicate to you the importance of keeping your home well-secured, well lit and looking homely while you are away, to try ward off any potential criminals.
Lastly, and most importantly, ensure that your home is insured in case of anything going wrong while you are away. Chat to one of our qualified consultants today.
“The article should not be considered legal or financial advice and is for information purposes only. You should consult with a professional financial advisor to determine what may be best for your individual needs.”