Housebreaking is the highest reported crime in South Africa, according to the state’s Department of Statistics. Every year, some 1.3 million homes are broken into. This is almost 5.8% of South African houses. Out of these, about 260,000 homes report burglaries. As alarming as these numbers sound, the reality could be even worse since a lot of crime goes unreported. Victims of burglaries come from varied locations, socio-economic background, race and gender. So, unfortunately, every South African householder is at risk and a potential victim.

With almost 600 houses being broken into every day, home security cannot be taken for granted any more. You NEED to take preventive steps to protect your home. A burglar might be eyeing your house for a long time, but normally, you would come to know about it only when it is too late to do anything. This article intends to change that by deep-diving into the mindset of a burglar to help you, the homeowner, understand how these criminals operate and how to upstage them.

How burglars mark houses in South Africa?

Before you secure your house, you need to be aware of certain weak spots that end up making your house look very inviting to a burglar. Given that we do not usually give it a lot of thought, we actually might be doing things that make it easier for burglars to do their thing. In fact, you might be unwittingly facilitating your own house break-in. The following list explains how a burglar goes about choosing the next house, as well as some home security tips that are a must for every householder in South Africa.

The easy way in and out

Most burglars, especially the experienced burglars, never rush into burgling a house. They begin by first surveying the house for a few days. This reconnaissance of the house and the locality, in general, give them a lot of information crucial for a successful burglary. Firstly, they look for easy house entry and exit points through where they can swiftly and safely break-in and escape.

This can come in many forms- an open window that stays open throughout the day, an unlocked door, an unlocked garage door, an open pet door, or an opening in the yard/ garden fence. All these can easily serve as potential entry points for a burglar. Apart from these, a window air conditioner on the ground floor can also be taken out to create space to get into a house. Some houses feature beautiful glass doors that look very charming but are sadly also very easy to smash in and force entry.

Secondly, keeping surveillance on your house reveals to a burglar your daily routine. They observe how many people live in the house, what time they all leave for work and school, and subsequently, what time they all return. If you, like most people, follow a predictable routine, then it will not be hard for the burglar to figure out what time and for how long the house stays empty. They can use all this information to plan and execute a perfect burglary.

Hence, it is always best to be alert and look around your block when you leave for work. If you notice a stranger loitering or a car parked near your house every time you leave and come back from work for several days in a row, then it is best to keep an eye on it. You can request the emergency police service to investigate the person or the car. It might just be a burglar on a stake-out.

Putting your things on display

Keeping your valuables in full sight of a window that has the curtains open is inviting trouble in. Cash and electronics are the most burgled items in a house. So, avoid keeping cash, laptops, iPads, and so on just lying around where they might be easily seen from a window or glass door. Similarly, if you have kids, ensure they pick up their toys from the yard once they are done playing. Expensive toys strewn about on the lawn can make a surveying burglar wonder what kind of gaming devices your kids have. Also, remember to keep the patio door closed when away from home to prevent a break-in.

School’s out

For a lot of people, summer around December is the time to unwind and travel. You plan trips the whole year-round to make the most of the long summer holidays. Unfortunately, this also becomes the best time for a burglar to do their deed. Mostly, it is easy to figure out whether a family has left for the holidays. You will see mails overflowing from the mailbox or newspapers piling onto the doormat. These are all giant giveaways of a house being empty, and therefore, an easy target for burglary. The best way to counter this problem would be to request a neighbour or a friend to clear out the mail and newspapers every few days to give the impression that people still live in the house. Such small steps can go a long way in protecting your home.

Do not be obvious

Most of us still keep our house keys in very predictable places, like under the door mat or under a potted plant. These are also going to be the first places a burglar checks. The easiest home security tip to keep in mind is not to hide the key and your valuables in obvious places.