South African citizens have been urged to practice extra caution following the release of the South African Police Service (SAPS) annual crime statistics for April 2013 to March 2014 by National police commissioner Riah Phiyega.

South African citizens have been urged to practice extra caution following the release of the South African Police Service (SAPS) annual crime statistics for April 2013 to March 2014 by National police commissioner Riah Phiyega. The shocking numbers paint a grim picture, with alarming increases being noted, particularly within the trio crimes sector – crimes relating to personal and business safety such as carjacking, house robbery and business robbery.

Arnold van der Linde, Executive Chairman 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 properties. “It’s more important than ever for South Africans to be aware and vigilant at all times, and ensure they are protected,” he says.

These rates of trio crimes occurring have indeed increased steadily over the years, and have been described as ‘stubborn’ by Phiyega. The latest figures show an overall trio crime increase of 10%, with carjacking going up by 12.3%, robbery going up by 13.7%, and residential robbery seeing a 7.4% increase. On a broader scale, over the last five years, trio crimes have increased by 4%, and a massive 95.3% over the past ten years.

Van der Linde 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,” he 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 van der Linde also advises South Africans to make sure they are aware of the latest developments and techniques being used. Aside from ensuring that they have the appropriate insurance cover, van der Linde 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. As many of the measures are also likely to lower insurance premiums, they can even save you money in the long run.

Van der Linde 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, van der Linde advises that observing some of the below precautions can significantly increase the safety and wellbeing of a home and its residents:

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;

Install tracking devices in vehicles;

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.