Exercise caution while exploring the outdoors again

More and more Gauteng residents are taking advantage of the wonderfully warm summer days and heading outdoors to exercise  and enjoy their wonderful suburban parks and other leisure areas.

Carlos Pronto community development manager at Fidelity ADT, says while the warmer weather and lifting of restrictions is good news, residents must bear personal safety in mind at all times when enjoying the outdoors.

“Crime has steadily increased as lockdown restrictions have lifted and what we are seeing at the moment is a lot of opportunistic crime – which is more than likely a sign of the desperate situations thousands of people find themselves in as a result of job losses and other pandemic-related factors,” he said.

Cell phone snatching on roads is very common for walkers and for cyclists theft of  bicycles and valuables has picked up.  The roads are not the only places to be cautious of however. “Leisure areas, like parks and dams, can also  be hotspots for these types of crimes,”he added.

“If you go out for a jog in your favourite park or walking trail the last thing on your mind is probably being confronted by a violent criminal, but it does unfortunately happen.

“Just last week four dog walkers were attacked by  four suspects armed with knives  at the Johannesburg Botanical gardens. The victims were walking their dogs at around 6:30am in the forest when they were confronted by the men. We have also had a couple of incidents at Delta Park and along the Bryanston Spruit.

According to Pronto, criminals who carry out these types of attacks often operate in pairs and will grab what they can in the frenzy of the attack.

“The obvious items they are after include cellphones, running shoes, bicycles, jewellery and cash,” he said.

Top 10 outdoor safety tips from Fidelity ADT: 

1: Carry as little as possible with you when you head outdoors to jog, walk, cycle or hike, leaving things like a cellphone, expensive jewellery or earphones at home.

2: While point one is important, we understand a cellphone can be critical in an emergency. If you are going to carry a cellphone keep it concealed and only take it out when absolutely necessary. Have an emergency contact, like your local security company or CPF, on speed dial.

3: Stick to areas which are popular with other outdoor enthusiasts, so that even if you are exercising or enjoying the outdoors alone you are still among people.

4: Always tell someone exactly where you are going and when you will be back.

5: Even if you are in an area full of people, are they all really there to relax and exercise? Take note of who is around and look out for any suspicious people, vehicles or activities. Security companies regularly patrol park and leisure areas, so if you are concerned about anything go with your gut feeling and flag a security vehicle in the vicinity down.

6: Carry pepper spray or a whistle with you to use in an emergency.

7: Take a self-defence class. Many community organisations offer these as charity fund-raisers or free of charge, so find out what is available in your area – and invite your friends along!

8: If you venture into areas you have not been before, to hike or cycle for example, rather go with a guide or someone else who knows the terrain and exactly what to expect on the trail.

9: It is not advisable to enjoy the outdoors before dawn or after dusk. Criminals do strike during the day but are so much more comfortable finding their victims under the cover of darkness.

10: Exercising or enjoying leisure activities (even a picnic) in  big groups is always safer.

“We all looked forward to regaining our freedom of movement but bear in mind our freedom of movement means more victims to target for criminals. There are ways to protect yourself from becoming a target though. Much of keeping yourself safe is about using common sense,” Pronto concluded.