The recent crime stats released by the South African police point to an alarming increase of 8.5% in robberies with aggravating circumstances. This is reflected in Santam’s own internal data for the last year with a 21% increase in reported household robbery claims (theft by use of force or violence) and a 19% decrease in domestic house breaking claims (breaking and entering a property).
So, how do you go about ensuring that your home is burgle-proof?
“The first step to ensuring protection is to take personal responsibility for your family’s safety. Just as you would carry out an annual inventory of possessions and house contents for insurance purposes, you should do an annual ‘home safety check’ to highlight any risks that could have arisen during the year,” says Marius Neethling, manager of personal lines underwriting at Santam.
An annual ‘stock-take’ involves much more than just ensuring that your alarm is working. Neethling says policyholders often overlook the smaller – but just as crucial – aspects, such as checking and replacing the batteries of the alarm system, as well those of alarm remotes. Other important safety precautions include regular electrical safety inspections, and making sure fire extinguishers – which may lose their charge over time and become ineffective – are in a good working condition.
Check your fire extinguisher by verifying that the locking pin is intact and the tamper seal is unbroken. Examine the extinguisher for obvious physical damage, corrosion, leakage, or a clogged nozzle. Confirm the pressure gauge or indicator is in the operable range or position, and lift the extinguisher to ensure it is still full.
Having a fire blanket, fire extinguisher and a well-stocked first aid kit in the house and around the braai area could save lives, as well as homes and possessions in the advent of a fire or similar emergency,” Neethling advises.
Install deadbolts on all doors that lead outside the house…and make sure you use the deadbolt when you are at home. Keep your curtains closed in rooms that are visible from the street. If criminals can’t see in, they can’t “case the joint” or determine if you have valuables worth stealing.
You might enjoy a green, leafy garden but be aware that overgrown gardens pose a significant risk, as they provide a place for criminals to hide. They also reduce visibility into a property from the security company’s point of view when they need to act on alarm activation.
Neethling says the most important security measures for home-owners are perimeter protection (such as a wall or palisade fence) and proper lighting within the perimeter. “The aim is to deter criminals from entering the property in the first place. Proper lighting need not be expensive – low energy lights with motion sensors can be very effective.”
“We find this surprising. Most people spend thousands of rands on monitored alarm systems, burglar bars and security gates. Having their safety arrangements checked once a year to ensure that everything is working as it should, can be very helpful in terms of identifying possible risks which need to be addressed,” says Neethling.
“Looking after the safety and security of a family involves a lot more than selecting the best insurance cover. It takes proper regard and time to understand the dangers that could arise every day and to minimise the possibility and impact of those risks. Simple safety measures can hugely reduce risk and therefore also your monthly premiums,” Neethling concludes.
Visit our home advice page for more useful tips.