At the Domestic Watch meeting held at the Linhill Soccer Club this week, domestic staff from Linmeyer, Oakdene, The Hill and surrounding areas were taught how to stay safe and what to do if they come in to contact with a criminal.
We are all aware that we need to take certain precautions to avoid criminal activity like ensuring our electric gates are locked at all times, our alarm is fully functional and we have all of our emergency numbers on speed dial, but what if you do come into contact with a criminal?
Linda Goodenough Community Development Manager at Fidelity ADT says it’s important to understand that these criminals are usually well experienced and seldom operate alone so they almost always have the element of surprise. They are also under pressure so they can make mistakes if they are challenged.
“We recommend that as a family you have thought through and discussed some “what if” scenarios just in case. Different situations require different actions and it is important to know what to do when,” she says.
WHAT IF? I am at home and criminals come into my home
She says if you are at home the first thing to do is push the panic button then at least you know whatever happens, help is on the way. “It’s very important to try and stay calm. Knowing what to do and having a pre-arranged plan for you and your family can save your life. Trying to think when you are under pressure is very hard to do. We advise that you have a couple of plans for different scenarios ready in your head so that you can just DO IT without having to think twice if it is the right thing to do,” she says.
WHAT IF? They have a firearm
Goodenough says it is never worth being a hero. Goods can always be replaced. She advises that you keep your eyes downcast and don’t offer any resistance or make sudden or jerking movements.
WHAT IF? You have children at home or in your care
Talk to your children and to domestic staff about different situations. Knowledge is powerful.
It is important to have prepared children without scaring them. Ideally you should have an emergency plan in place for “in case” and domestic staff should be aware of this plan for smaller children. The plan can be shared with teenagers and older children. Most criminals are generally not kidnappers. They want to get goods if they come into your home environment.
WHAT IF? I need to leave the premises and walk somewhere
Don’t be a creature of habit. Don’t go to the shop the same time every day for example. Criminals have usually been watching your house for routine activities. If you are walking on the street make sure you don’t walk with headphones in your ears listening to music or carry a lot of cash or valuables. If you are distracted this can make you a target.
WHAT IF? You are the first person on a crime scene
Push your panic button and call the police and ambulance to make sure you have back up on the way. If possible cordon off the scene. Don’t start cleaning up anything, i.e. broken glass etc.as this will tamper with the crime scene. We recommend you make some physical notes. You can do this on your phone until the SAPS or your private security provider arrives. If you can limit access to and movement from the area but also remain vigilant as criminals could still be on the scene.
WHAT IF? There are witnesses to a criminal activity
Not everyone wants to be a witness but a potential witness is anyone present, or in the vicinity of the scene. Ask them not to leave without taking their full details and encourage them not to discuss the incident amongst themselves. This could influence their recall. Also do not share photos on groups as this could negatively influence the outcome of the case.
WHAT IF? You think someone is a bogus police officer or worker
Always ask for ID. Blue lights and sirens can be bought anywhere. A badge on its own is not valid, it must be an appointment card. One way of checking is to hold it in the air. You should see a hologram effect. This is a very unique look and not easy to copy. You can also phone 10111, give the ID number and they will be able to identify if that person works for them or not and if they should be on duty.
WHAT IF? You have been subjected to criminal activity and are dealing with the effects
Generally, when an incident happens women experience terror and men anger. It is very important to understand that it is never your fault. You are the victim and have nothing to be ashamed of. “We always recommend counselling. In our experience if you don’t accept counselling it is going to take much longer to recover. You will often share things there that you may never tell your family. It is also recommended that you have a family counselling session because even if everyone was not present, there is often a ripple effect on other family members,” concludes Goodenough.