National News

A secure suburb is everyone’s responsibility

If you find yourself in the market for a new home or a rental, one of the prime considerations will be how safe the suburb is.

Security estates and boomed areas are one of the safer options, because they offer residents rigid security protocols which are to the benefit of everyone in the complex.

While many suburbs have rallied to be boomed off to control who enters the area, thus tightening the net for criminals, it is a vision which needs the cooperation of all residents, and shared funding. Unfortunately, many of these proposed schemes never come to fruition, because not all residents share the same security sentiment or can afford their share of the proposed costs.

The result is that there are many suburbs in which a large majority of people continue to be very security conscious, but struggle with some residents in their street or neighbourhood caring as much about security. To protect a suburb from criminals when this responsibility is not formally that of a private security provider also requires buy-in and a shared neighbourhood vision.

We have often experienced the frustration of residents who are vigilant about their security having this jeopardised by neighbours who are careless and disregard security.

For example, most South Africans today protect their homes with measures like automated gates, outdoor beams, electric fencing, security gates, burglar proofing and alarm systems linked to an armed response service provider.

However, if six houses in your street have none of this – instead, only have low walls, no dogs, leave their gates open and park their cars on the pavement – they are creating an opportunity for criminals. Once in your street to steal a car or break into a house, they will be on the lookout for other opportunities.

It is not easy to get all residents on the same page when it comes to crime, but there are things one can do to gently nudge resistance into action:

Please take note of the following 4 tips for promoting a secure neighbourhood:

  1. Lead by example. Be vigilant about closing your gates. An open gate is an invitation to criminals, as is a car parked outside the property. Support the private security companies which patrol your suburb by reporting gates left open at their clients’ homes.
  2. Get to know your neighbours. By speaking to them, you will ascertain whether you are on the same page when it comes to preventing crime. If they have minimal security in place, offer to at least be each other’s eyes and ears and exchange contact numbers.
  3. Be part of a security Whatsapp group for your suburb. Stick to the rules of the group and make valuable contributions by reporting any suspicious vehicles or activity. If your neighbour isn’t on the group, ask if you can get them added. Use the information on the group to track crime trends in your suburb and in surrounding suburbs, and spread the word. Don’t spread unnecessary panic though and always ensure information is verified before telling others.
  4. Ultimately, be responsible for the protection of your own home and family. You can’t change the world overnight, but you can keep your property and loved ones safe. This involves arming your alarm whenever you leave the house, connecting electric fencing and outdoor beams to an armed response service provider, ensuring security doors are locked at all times and educating everyone in your household – including helpers – about security and who to phone in an emergency.

It is unfortunate that we have to constantly be on alert for criminals, but it is a reality in this country. The more security conscious an entire suburb is, the less opportunity for criminals. It does not have to cost a fortune to enhance security at your home and much of it is pure common sense too.

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