While most people want nothing more than to be indoors and cosy after dark in winter, darkness provides the cover criminals need to break into houses undetected or wait in the shadows for residents to arrive home, says ADT Residential Estate Manager Marcel Pienaar.
“Most of us don’t favour nocturnal outings in winter … criminals do. It’s important for residents to be extra vigilant and perhaps reassess their security routines in winter.”
While an increase in criminal activity is mostly due to the early onset of darkness, Pienaar says there are a few factors which influence higher crime levels in winter:
• Residents often keep animals indoors, out of the cold, and as a result don’t set their home alarm systems at night. With dogs indoors, there’s also no early-warning for residents should criminals enter the property.
• While vagrants are only responsible for a small number of crimes, they tend to move closer to built-up areas in autumn and winter, seeking protection from the elements, which can lead to the occurrence of opportunistic crime.
• Movement control in suburbs becomes tricky for security companies and the SAPS. It isn’t abnormal to see domestic staff and other workers making their way home through the suburbs after dark, which makes it difficult to identify pedestrians with ill intentions. In the fading daylight, domestic staff walking to taxi ranks etc, can also become easier targets for criminals.
• The risk of load shedding is much higher during winter. This impacts directly on lighting, non-functional gate motors and security systems, in general, if the necessary back up power is not in place.
• Criminals are often on the lookout for vehicles that are left idling and unattended while the owner waits for the car to warm up. Never leave a vehicle unlocked or running unattended.
• Criminals can easily disguise themselves in winter. Wearing a hoodie and/or gloves isn’t seen as suspicious.
Security tips from ADT:
• Leave outside lights on if you know you’re going to get home after dark.
• Petition alarms so that external beams can be set early in the evening, just after you get home.
• Check the tensioning of electric fencing as it shrinks in colder weather and this can cause false alarms.
• Link smoke detectors to your alarm system. Fires during winter can be caused by heaters, electrical appliances and the cosy fireplace left burning when you go to bed.
• Be extra vigilant when leaving and arriving home. If you notice anything suspicious alert your security company or the SAPS immediately.