9 Ways To Decrease Your Chance Of A Break-In

With robberies at homes at a steady increase in South Africa, you need to know how to protect yourself

Kelleigh Korevaar |

In South Africa, unfortunately we have grown up accepting certain things as the norm; crime being one of these things. After years hearing about break-ins, hijackings and muggings or having had them happen to you, yourself, it’s common to take action in an attempt to protect yourself and your family.

And rightfully so. The 2017 Global Peace Index by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) has ranked us as one of the most dangerous and unsafe countries in the world. Our own stats from the South African Police Service are grim, too. Robbery at residential premises is up 7.32% since 2016. With break-ins on the rise, people are spending exorbitant amounts of money on securing their homes in the hopes it will keep them safe, but it’s difficult to know where to start and what’s more hype than hero.

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However, it’s not all about spending on security systems. There are a lot of things you can do yourself to decrease your chance of being broken into and prevent a burglary. Here’s what you can do:

1. Stay Alert, Avoid Break-Ins

You might think that you are at your most vulnerable when you’re fast asleep, but that’s not actually true. Research has shown that most burglaries happen between 7pm and midnight when people are cooking, watching TV and relaxing. Why? You don’t activate you security systems and beams – for most of us we only turn on the tech when we go to bed. The solution isn’t to be on lockdown as soon as you get home from work, but rather just be alert. Knowing that you’re at high risk at the times you’re most relaxed and remaining alert is the first step to decreasing your chance of having a break-in. Listen out for noises, don’t blast the TV too loudly and definitely don’t leave your windows and doors wide open on the other side of the house.

2. Get To Know Your Neighbours

They’re not just good for letting you know when your dog’s out or for lift club; tight-knit communities have substantially lower crime rates, according to a study. When everyone knows each other, they not only care more but they are also far more aware of when there is a stranger or someone foreign to your neighbourhood in your area. Your neighbours are one of your best lines of defense and it helps if you have different work schedules, too. You can be eyes and ears for each other which is especially beneficial if you’re at work and they are at home.

3. Get On Your Street’s Whatsapp Group

This gives you the chance to get to know your neighbours. A whatsapp group is pretty much the modern version of a neighbourhood watch group (which if your neighbourhood has, you should join too). It’s not just for complaining about the noisy party happening down the road or the serial newspaper thief. This is a live feed to the danger your home might be in as told by your neighbours. You get a different perspective on events that are happening and will be alerted when something is out of the ordinary. If your neighbourhood doesn’t have a whatsapp group? Simple! Create one yourself; most people will be more than happy to join the group.

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4. Do An Audit Of Your Lighting

Dark corners in walkways and gardens are a burglars best friend. Spend one night auditing your lighting and consider which areas you would consider dark enough for someone to hide. Most of us don’t bother providing sufficient lighting because we think in terms of use instead of safety. Why light up the dark corner in your garden when you could light up the driveway and path that people use every night. Don’t overlook this safety precaution that could help you in preventing break-ins.

If you don’t want lights on throughout the night, invest in motion sensor lights. If someone enters your property the light will scare them off and alert you. It’s one of the most budget-friendly ways to secure the home; outdoor lighting has been proven to drastically reduce your crime risk.

5. Do Your Gardening Strategically

You need to worry about more than just your lighting in your garden, though. As bizarre as it may sound, your garden itself could be used as a way to deter burglars. First, make sure all bushes and trees are trimmed and not overgrown; they’re the perfect hiding place for burglars. Second, consider planting thorny bushes around your windows or fence. Break-ins will be difficult and painful for the burglar; no one wants to land on a surface of thorns. Thirdly, gravel makes a noise when you walk on it which could alert you to people walking outside. Combine these gardening strategies with good outdoor lighting and being aware of noises.

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6. Make Sure You Don’t Advertise

Ensuring you don’t have an assortment of easy-to-steal and valuable items lying in the garden on display is a no-brainer. Make sure your expensive braais, bikes, and toys are packed safely away instead of strewn around. Leaving items around shows you’re careless about your belongings which could make burglars think that targeting your house would be an easy break-in.

Another way people advertise their house to burglars is when they go on holiday. When you go away, make sure it doesn’t seem like your home is unoccupied. Leaving the lights on 24/7 is a bad move rather ask someone to house sit.  If you can’t get a housesitter, ask your neighbour to turn the lights on or get lights that are set to a timer and turn on when it’s night time. Added measures include not putting on your voicemail that you’re away; thieves can find out your number and phone you.

7. Download An App

Namola, a South African creation, has been described as the Uber of emergencies. All you need to do is download this app which is completely free and if you’re in an emergency you can open it up and request help. The app is able to pick up on your location and operators verify the incident before they send out the correct responders that you will need. This one might not prevent break-ins but it can help them from causing serious damage. Being able to request emergency services if you suspect a burglary is happening or if you see someone in your garden can help prevent thieves from actually being able to break in. Download Namola here.

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8. Turn Your Phone Into A Security Camera

There’s no need to leave your old phones lying in drawers when you can use them to secure your home. As long as the back camera works, you can use it as a wireless security camera. There are a number of apps that you can download that offer more or less the same features such as local streaming, cloud streaming, recording and storing footage as well as motion detection and alerts.

Alfred is a great app because it works on both Android and iOS and it’s is free to use and offers everything you need. You can also upgrade for an extra fee and you will then have access to higher-resolution viewing and more. You just need to download it onto your old phone and your new phone and follow the prompts. Secure it in the area you want the camera to monitor with a phone tripod or suction cup. Make sure it’s near a charger and power source because 24/7 streaming can use a lot of battery. You get to use your phones that are lying around and you have peace of mind when you’re not at home.

9. Install Reliable Security Services

If you are going to get security services, you want to invest your money in a reliable and top-quality security system. Ring, a leader in neighbourhood security, has announced that they will finally be coming to South Africa. The Ring range includes connected doorbells, cameras and lights. These products are easily installed and configured, with an app that provides various control options. Their products are affordable, proactive, easy to install, and comprehensive so; your security will be in the best hands.

“Security, especially home security, is a priority in South Africa. Almost all homes in the country have some kind of security already in place – alarm systems, electric fences even armed response companies protecting almost every home. Ring’s mission is simple: to reduce crime in neighbourhoods and empower consumers by creating a ‘Ring of Security’ around homes and communities with our suite of preventive smart home security products,” says Mohammad Meraj Hoda, Vice President – Business Development at Ring.

Incredible Connection, Dion Wired, Makro, Builder’s Warehouse and premium security installers will soon have the full range of Ring products.

READ MORE ON: bad habits crime family home risk safety

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