With many South Africans travelling to see family or loved ones, and residents being out and about, the December holidays are also unfortunately prime season for various criminals, like burglars, porch pirates and scammers.
“December is crunch time for opportunistic thieves and home invaders,” advised the head of marketing and communications at the Fidelity Services Group, Charnel Hattingh.
“Remember, these thieves will actively seek out the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of residences where they can identify breaches or weak points. Be proactive about your home security and don’t let yourself be an easy target,” she added.
“Firstly, make sure that anyone who works for you, or on your property, is someone you know and trust. Don’t just hire someone new without a background check.”
Vigilance is key, she said.
“Talk to your family, as well as your staff who work at your residence about the importance of keeping doors and gates locked, and what do to in case of a security emergency. This planning should include everyone who is old enough to have access to either a panic button or an appropriate emergency response number saved on speed dial. Remind them to always keep a lookout, and don’t just trust the word of any strangers who arrive at your gate, as they could be thieves, scammers, or con artists.”
Work together with your community. Make friends with your neighbours and join your area’s WhatsApp neighbourhood security groups.
Do the necessary home maintenance work to keep your property secure and invest in your outdoor security systems if you need to. Start with the basics, such as replacing all outside lights or bulbs that might be faulty, to keep your home and garden areas well-lit at night.
Then, secure your perimeters. Double-check your windows and doors, and make sure your garage area is properly secured.
“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Systematically check all areas of your fences and security gates, to ensure a secure perimeter with no weak spots,” Hattingh urged.
“Also be wary of porch piracy; a new kind of crime where thieves impersonate you, only to steal goods and gifts delivered to your house by online shops and e-hailing delivery services. If you’re expecting parcels, get in touch with the courier or online store, and make a note for the drivers to make sure you sign the receipt for your delivery and call ahead of time to ensure you’re home at the time of delivery. But staying safe these holidays isn’t just about fortifying your home. Your safety when you’re travelling, on holiday, or out and about, is just as important,” she continued.
She further warned that “when taking to the roads, or travelling by aeroplane or train, be extra careful, plan ahead, leave early, and drive slowly. There may be heavy traffic, as well as the dangerous possibility of sharing the roads with illegally inebriated or over-tired drivers.”
“If you’re attending a street carnival, public celebration, festival, or going to any busy urban areas, remember to keep your people together and be on the lookout for pickpockets. Keep your valuables in the car if possible, and always remember to lock it!” she added.