Security proofing your home and business for the holidays

While many people may regard social media as a safe and fun platform to connect with friends and family, announcing your whereabouts on these services and posting holiday pictures while you are away from home can pose a huge security risk to home and business owners as it inadvertently alerts criminals that you are away. […]

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While many people may regard social media as a safe and fun platform to connect with friends and family, announcing your whereabouts on these services and posting holiday pictures while you are away from home can pose a huge security risk to home and business owners as it inadvertently alerts criminals that you are away.

So says George Fitzroy, Managing Director for Security Division at Servest, who issued this warning as the country heads towards the holiday peak season in December, amid relaxed lockdown regulations. The 2021/2022 crime statistics released by the South African Police Services (SAPS) showed a significant increase across several crime categories, with some of the double-digit increases attributable to the adjusted lockdown levels.

“Don’t let everyone you know that you’re going away, especially not on social media,” Fitzroy said. “This is very important because you could potentially be compromising the safety of your home. Criminals also use social media, and they lurk on social media platforms to search for areas of vulnerability. You cannot be entirely certain of everyone’s true intentions.”

Fitzroy advises social media users to keep what they share to the bare minimum and recommends that they should rather share their vacation pictures and updates when they are back from their holidays.

He also urges homeowners to take proactive steps to beef up security in and around their homes. Home and business owners should make an honest risk assessment test on their property to identify areas of vulnerability.

“The first thing you will need to do is to do a comprehensive risk assessment of your premises and then ensure that you address all shortcomings from a security perspective,” he said. “Think like a potential burglar would and identify areas of vulnerability, ask yourself how you could access the property. Private homes are easy targets as most properties lack reliable security systems. During the festive period criminals will often look for soft targets like homes because corporate businesses are closed during this period and they are dissuaded by the physical and technical security normally found in those premises,” says Fitzroy.

He advises homeowners to do routine tests such testing their alarm system and batteries to ensure that they are fully operational, particularly after the numerous bouts of load shedding we have experienced. Fitzroy also recommends that homeowners invest in active security solutions such as an active CCTV system that can be securely monitored offsite from smartphones or tablets.

“The perimeter fence or wall is the first line of defence and this needs to be high enough to discourage any would be burglar. Homeowners should also consider investing in an electric fence that is also linked to an armed response company,” says Fitzroy.

Not all security measures require a huge monetary investment. With a limited budget, homeowners can mitigate the risk of their homes being burglarized when they are away on vacation by either buying battery operated lights that they can leave on, or they can simply inform their neighbourhood watch or armed response company to keep a constant lookout for any potentially suspicious activity.

Fitzroy also advises homeowners to switch off and unplug non-essential items such as Christmas lights while they are away as this will help them to save electricity and prevent the outbreak of any fires.

“Life is unpredictable, which is why homeowners should check the status of their insurance policies to ensure that they are covered should anything happen. Homeowner’s insurance will cover the exterior of your property, whereas home contents insurance protects you against theft and possibly loss from natural disasters that could damage your valuables. Knowing the differences between the two is important,” says Fitzroy.

He advises people who plan on travelling to consider signing up for travel insurance to cover them against unexpected loss while they are away. “The holiday season is exciting. It is a time where we can feel free of responsibility. While this is so, it’s quite important to make sure that certain aspects of the home are taken care of before leaving for the holidays. This will protect you, your home and your belongings.”

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