October and November have seen an alarming rise in the number of armed house robberies across Gauteng.
According to Wahl Bartmann, CEO of Fidelity Services Group, Fidelity ADT alone has recorded 20 incidents in the South and East of Johannesburg with Alberton, Springs and Turffontein recording the highest numbers of armed robberies. There have been nine recorded incidents in the North of Johannesburg, three of these have been residential robberies and the balance commercial robberies.
“In our Pretoria footprint we have had 15 incidents from October to date. Five of these have been commercial and eight residential and in our more outlying areas we have recorded 10 incidents, seven commercial and the balance residential,” says Bartmann.
He says what is concerning is that all of these incidents have involved armed suspects. “We know traditionally that a staggering 8 out of 10 residential robberies are committed using information from domestic workers, gardeners and former employees.
“Home and business owners need to be aware of the importance of vetting all staff very carefully. We recommend homeowners particularly use a specialist placement consultancy who can do the necessary background checks,” he says,
In 2016, UNISA’s School of Criminal Justice conducted research into understanding and preventing house robbery in South Africa. Although the survey is almost 4 years old now a number of the findings are still relevant, says Bartmann:
- Robbers will monitor the home for as long as two weeks.
- Most attacks occur between 19:00 and midnight as people are relaxed, sleeping, cooking or watching TV and the security systems and beams are not activated. Robberies can continue until 04:00.
- 97% of robbers are armed.
- On average, an armed robbery gang has four members.
- The average age of a house robber is 19 to 26 years of age.
- An average of 30% of all house robbers have either committed murder or won’t hesitate to commit murder and of all arrested robbers, 90% had no matric qualification or were unemployed.
“In our experience we have found that security measures like electric fences, detection beams and Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) are still key deterrents to crime, as are pets. For homeowners small dogs that sleep inside the house are seen as a deterrent. How secure your neighbourhood is, is also a meaningful factor. If robbers are scouting carefully they will view regular patrol and a strong neighbourhood watch system as a good reason to move on,” he says.
“It is equally important that domestic staff always keep security gates on doors locked – they may not hear an intruder over the noise of the vacuum or know that someone has entered the house while they are in the backyard. The alarm system must always be armed when they leave the house; even if it is only for a few minutes.”
“The bottom line is you always need to remain vigilant. Act as if you are being watched and take all necessary precautions. Your security starts with having the correct domestic and gardening employees who are well vetted and au fait with your security protocols, to having the right security measures around your home; to living in a community that supports and has good security protocols,” he concludes.