Tuesday, March 11, 2014

According to the latest research by SAPS, there is no evidence that “markings” are used by criminals to target your house.

“These stories of painted letters, piles of stones, soft drink cans and plastic bags are just urban legends,” says Warwick Scott-Rodger, Head of Dialdirect Insurance, adding, “these and some other social media warnings are fabrications with no basis in facts.”

Facebook postings have reported that everything from empty chips packets to shoes - as well as how they are positioned - can indicate if the homeowner is armed, if the occupants are home and where there are escape routes. However, this is not true.  Security Company ADT has corroborated this by agreeing that their security guards have not encountered this technique.

“Although criminals can be very creative with their modus operandi, nothing has shown that homes are marked in some way or another so that a burglary can be perpetrated,” says Scott-Rodger.

It seems that these so-called “alerts” are based on myth. In fact, it turns out that the majority of crime is opportunistic - for instance, a criminal seeing an open window and a flatscreen TV and going for it. The studies show that planning tends to only take place when criminals are targeting a business or premises with high value items and then the criminals will carry out reconnaissance.

Preventative security measures are the best way to avoid being a victim of crime. “Deterrants are the way to go,” advises Scott-Rodger, “you need to make it as hard as you can for your house or business to be targeted.”

Instead of looking for markings, rather take these simple precautionary steps to ensure your safety at home:

  • Most insurance companies will recommend that you have an alarm system installed that is linked to a reliable armed response company.
  • Electric fencing, CCTV, infrared beams and even dogs are excellent deterrents and are invaluable as early warning systems when someone manages to breach the perimeter of your property. But, without the back-up of a reliable, fast-reacting armed response service, they are really just noise-makers.
  • Having burglar bars fixed to all opening windows and security gates fitted to all external doors is essential.
  • Remember to have back-up power supply sources, such as batteries, on electric fences, gate motors and CCTV monitors, and alarms must be checked every two to three years to ascertain that they are working properly.
  • Burglar bars and window frames also need to be inspected regularly and any weak or degrading sections must be repaired or replaced.
  • Investing in comprehensive short-term insurance should also form part of every homeowner’s protection strategy so that if all else fails and they do fall victim to a robbery, they will not have to suffer the financial burden of trying to replace damaged and stolen property.
  • Make sure your driveway perimeter and garden is well-lit and that the sides are not obscured by bushes where would-be intruders may be hiding.
  • Remain vigilant and alert at all times. If you see or suspect anything suspicious, call the police or your security company – don’t ignore it!

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