There has been an exponential growth in residential estates in recent years. These range from estates of around 40 units to the big developments of 3 000 to 4 000 units. But they all have one thing in common: they satisfy the needs of those who are seeking an aesthetically pleasing and secure lifestyle.
Unfortunately crime syndicates that target lifestyle estates have mushroomed too. They ferret out informants in informal settlements and other communities who, knowingly or unknowingly, provide information on what they see and hear as contractors or service providers on estates. A particularly serious problem is information passed on by people who live on or have regular jobs within estates.
Armed with information, and their own reconnaissance, criminals have found new ways of gaining access to estates.
“While security companies are constantly on the look out for ways to improve their service to residents, residents too can play a part in dealing with crime in estates,” says Clive Humphrey, Managing Director of ADT Central Region.
He offers the following safety tips for estate residents:
Don’t rely on perimeter security alone
While perimeter security measures have been successful in driving down crime in estates, once criminals gain access to properties within estates they often have free reign. This is because residents become complacent about their personal home security. Be sure to lock doors and windows and ensure vehicles are locked even if parked in a garage. Don’t leave valuables lying around, particularly where they may be visible to a passerby.
Check references of your domestic worker and gardener
Very often crimes within estates are carried out with the assistance of a domestic staff member. Make sure you have properly checked your domestic worker’s and gardener’s references and educate them on keeping your home secure when you are not there. Remember ADT runs a Domestic Watch programme and it is useful to send your domestic worker to one of these sessions which is usually run in conjunction with the SAPS.
Watch out if there is construction on the go
Having construction workers on site within estates has historically resulted in elevated crime levels. Whether this is a direct result of construction workers having access to the estate or the increase in traffic in and out of the estate, you need to be extra diligent about ensuring your home is secure. Remember they are non permanent visitors to the estate.
Report suspicious behaviour
A growing trend in estates is for a crime syndicate to move into a home for a period of time. During this time they monitor the behaviour of residents and initiate house break-ins in the estate before moving out. If you notice any suspicious behaviour, i.e. blinds or curtains permanently drawn, report it immediately to your security company.
Be alert when entering and exiting the estate
Criminals have targeted residents leaving from or returning to estates and hijacked them a few metres from the gates, if not right in front of the gates. The reality is that people relax and become less and less alert the closer they get to home. Don’t think that just because there is a security guard at the gate that you can become complacent. Even if a security guard is in a guard house at the entrance and a hijacking is taking place within his vision, the best thing to do is to not intervene but rather take down the vehicle’s details and call an armed reaction service.
Hijackers are highly charged when they approach a vehicle and any unexpected movements or events could mean life or death for the driver. The safest approach that a security guard can take to ensure all parties remain calm is to call for help and lay low. However, a comprehensive description of the vehicle and the hijackers could go a long way to the recovery of the vehicle after the incident. If you notice anything suspicious at the gate rather don’t pull in right away but watch from a safe distance. If a hijacking does take place, stay calm, get out of the vehicle and let them take it. It’s not worth your life or those around you.