The release of crime statistics this morning by the South African Police Services (SAPS) has highlighted the importance of South Africans taking extra precautions to ensure their personal safety, as well as to protect their personal belongings.

The release of crime statistics this morning by the South African Police Services (SAPS) has highlighted the importance of South Africans taking extra precautions to ensure their personal safety, as well as to protect their personal belongings.

The SAPS annual crime statistics for April 2014 to March 2015 were released by National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, and highlight an alarming increase in a number of crimes. These statistics paint a concerning picture for the personal safety of South Africans.

Lizette Erasmus, head of insurance expertise at IntegriSure, says that these stats should serve as an important reminder to all South Africans to take whatever measures possible to protect themselves and their property. “It’s more important than ever for South Africans to be aware and vigilant at all times, and ensure they are protected,” she says.

Residential robberies, where fear or force is used by criminals, are among of the crimes that South Africans fear the most. “With this in mind, it is a source of great concern that residential robberies have seen an increase of 5.2%. However, residential burglary (a residential theft without any force or fear factored in) have seen a welcome drop of 2.3%,” says Erasmus. “The latest figures also show an increase in carjacking of 14.2%, as well as an increase in robbery with aggravating circumstances of 8.5%, while common robbery has increased by 2.7%.” Erasmus says that one of the most crucial statistics highlighted is the massive increase of truck hijackings, which has risen by 29.1%. “This highlights the need for greater security measures to be put in place by truck and fleet owners, in order to protect their drivers as well as their cargo.”

Erasmus says that aside from the emotional and mental trauma of being a victim of a crime, the high associated costs are a major issue as well. “With the rate that crime – particularly theft – is occurring, making sure your car and your household contents are covered by a comprehensive insurance policy has become a must-have,” she continues. “The chances of this happening to any one person are just too high to not consider this. The costs of being robbed can be crippling, and being properly insured is the most effective way to avoid that kind of financial distress.”

Furthermore Erasmus also advises South Africans to make sure they are aware of the latest security developments and techniques being used. Aside from ensuring that they have the appropriate insurance cover, Erasmus also says there are a few basic steps that can be taken which will greatly minimise the risk of crime occurring, and even individuals with minimal resources should be able to implement these.

Erasmus goes on to say that common sense and general awareness are some of the most important ways to prevent crime and ensure the safety of homes, cars and residents. “Criminals tend to take advantage of situations where the surrounding community seem unconcerned and inattentive – being constantly and openly aware can prove to be a major deterrent to these types of fiends. Although these measures may not eradicate crime altogether, Erasmus advises that observing some of the below precautions can significantly increase the safety and wellbeing of a home and its residents:

Home precautions:

  • Perimeter fencing should be present as a first and major barrier to entry;
  • Encourage a culture of keeping doors and security gates locked at all times;
  • Keep a minimal amount of cash in the house;
  • Make sure to keep plants and trees around the property neat and trimmed to ensure clear visibility;
  • Install lights to properly illuminate any dark pathways and outdoor areas;
  • Follow the local council and policing newsletters, and ask to be kept abreast of any happenings in the area;
  • Taking out background checks on potential employees before hiring – many incidents are a result of “inside information” being passed on by new staff members;
  • Should a staff member leave your employ, make sure you collect their keys and change combinations to security features such as safes and alarms;
  • In the event of a burglary or suspicious person entering / loitering around your house, train staff and family members to make note of features such as height, ethnicity, clothing, hair colour etc., as this information can be vital for police investigations, should they be necessary;
  • Hire a reputable security company with a proven track record of positive results for households. This may include the provisions of security guards on site, CCTV monitoring, alarm systems, and roaming armed response vehicles – make sure that a clear and prominent sign is displayed outside the property stating that these measures are in place, and that these systems are regularly tested for their effectiveness.

Vehicle precautions:

  • Install tracking devices in vehicles;
  • Ensure that you are aware of and know the major hijacking hot-spots in your area and try to avoid these;
  • Ensure that your car is properly locked before walking away to mitigate the risk of car jamming, or make use of an anti-jamming device;
  • Install anti-smash and grab in your vehicles.