Usefull Information

Playing it safe - Property24.com - 2008/10/30

Every South African owes it to themselves to do everything in their power to secure their homes as best as they possibly can.

The good news is that according to statistics from the South African Police Service, comparing crime statistics from 2006/2007 to 2007/2008, burglaries at residential properties have dropped by 4,7% from 249 665 reported cases in 2006/2007 to 237 853 in 2007/2008. Although the drop is positive, the sad truth is that these figures remain exceptionally high when compared to other foreign countries.

Although there is no doubt that installing high-tech security equipment and top-end security gates and bars is the ideal way to safeguard your home. However, there are also a number of easy and cost effective things you can do to further improve your home's overall security. Some of the solutions discussed below are logical and will cost you nothing, others will cost little and require only a small investment of time and effort – however each and every one of them promises to substantially improve the security of your home.

Securing the perimeter

• Never leave ladders, step stools, trash cans, lawn chairs outside. Apart from being at risk of being stolen, these items also offer potential burglars the opportunity to use them to climb up onto the roof or into high unsecured windows. Instead, it is wise to store these, along with your other garden equipment and tools, in a lock-up storage hut or in the garage.

• Lights with motion detectors are a convenient and efficient source for outdoor security lighting. Well positioned motion detectors make it virtually impossible for anyone to sneak up on your home.

• Your perimeter wall is important. If the burglar really wants to get over your wall, he or she will be able to, but it does act as a good deterrent and makes the task of breaking into your home that much more difficult. If you have the budget, laser beams and electric fencing is ideal. There are other less expensive options that also work relatively well, which include cementing broken glass on the top of your walls, planting thorny hedges or plants along both sides of the wall, or installing razor spikes along the top of our wall.
Make sure that your home's front entrance is visible from the road, as if a burglary is in progress, passers-by form the neighbours will be able to witness that something is amiss and the burglars won't have free reign to do whatever they like behind the privacy offered by your home's walls.

• Keep all bushes, hedges and foundation plants neatly pruned and trimmed so that they don't hide potential entry points to your home. Overgrown plants offer intruders a place to hide while they attempt to break in or from which to surprise you when you are entering or leaving your home. Trees can also troublesome, as they can often be used to scale walls and access high windows and home roofs for easy access.

Windows and doors

• It goes without saying that every opening window should be secured with burglar bars and every door should be accompanied by a security gate. These are a once-off investment and are not too expensive to buy already made up, and can be installed yourself.

• All doors and security gates should be fitted with quality and secure locks and deadbolts, which resist twisting, prying and lock-picking.

• Louvre windows are especially vulnerable, as the slats can be easily removed from the frame. Glue them in place using epoxy resin and fit a special Louvre lock.

• Even with burglar bars in place, open windows still pose a security threat – to eliminate this, fit key-operated window locks, which are easy to install and relatively inexpensive to purchase.

• If you have door that separates your living and bedroom areas, then be sure to lock it before you go to sleep at night or when you go out.

• Look after your home keys. Don't leave any spare keys outside your home. Do not give your house keys to anybody. If you take your car in for a service for example, then remove the car key and keep the home keys. Don't put ID tags on your key ring – if you lose them, the person who finds them will know who you are, where you live and which keys fit in which doors. It is also recommended that if you buy a house, you change all the locks as you don't know who might have a set of keys for your new home.

If you go away on holiday

• Do not advise the newspaper or any other service for that matter, such as your private security form for example, that you are going away on holiday. Instead, tell a close family member or neighbour to collect your subscriptions and post for you while you are away. For future reference, rather have everything delivered to a P.O. Box so that post will not well up in your home post box while you are away.

• Install time switches onto your lights and appliances in your home so that they get turned on randomly and make it appear that there is someone at home.

• Lock all your valuables, appliances and high-tech equipment up into one room before you go. Make sure that this room has very few, and even better, no windows at all, and that it has extra security such as added security bars and a secure security gate on the internal door.

• Ask a neighbour, friend or family member to check up on your home and mow the lawn while you are away. Even better still, arrange a trusted house sitter to move in while you are away.

• Give a trusted neighbour your number and the number of our security firm, so that if they see something suspicious, they can report it. Give them a set of spare keys as well.

Use your common sense

• Never leave items of value in plain sight or nearby a window on the ground level.

• Never store any item of value or cash in your bedroom drawers – this is the first place burglars look.

• Etch your name and ID number on the metal surfaces attached to all your valuables – this will help police identify your property and it will make it more difficult for the thief to sell them.

• Keep a log of all your jewellery and valuables and take photos of all of the items and if possible, keep a record of their serial numbers.

• Never keep large sums of cash around the house – rather deposit it into your bank account.

• Try and store valuables, cash and important documents in the bank or safety deposit box.

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