The most important element for all readers of this guide is to change your mindset. If you are under the impression, albeit subconsciously, that crime only affects others, then it’s time for a reality check.
Prevention is better than cure, therefore we urge property and business owners to make every effort to prepare their properties, businesses, staff and themselves against criminal action.
Although we distribute local SAPS and Law Enforcement contact details we suggest the following: “If there is an emergency, call 10111. You could be wasting time in an emergency if you contact a sector vehicle or local SAPS. A sector vehicle could be attending to another crime. It is best to call 10111 because available police officers will attend. People also tend to call the SAPS first if someone is stabbed or shot for example. In instances like this, first call an ambulance. It could save the person’s life.
We scoured various guides and articles on safety and security and have summarised the following safety tips and guidelines. We realise that not all these may be applicable to everyone, nor do we suggest that our lists are comprehensive and all-encompassing. We do however believe that these tips make good business sense.
SAFETY TIPS TO PREVENT PROPERTY CRIME
- Ensure that your property can be secured properly. This includes checking all locks, gates, doors, windows and roller shutters.
- Ensure there are no gaps in your fence or perimeter wall or unintentional points of access to your home which may need additional security.
- Make sure that all bushes or trees close to your walls, gates and fences are trimmed, to avoid the possibility of intruders hiding behind them or using them to access your property.
- Adequate lighting around the perimeter of your house acts as a good deterrent
- Connecting outdoor lights to timers and motion sensors act as an additional deterrent.
- Have an alarm installed by a reputable security company with armed response.
- The key to effective security lies in being able to detect a potential intruder before they gain access. Adding detection beams and sensors of electrical fences vastly contributes to property security
- Ensure that your alarm is in working order. Business and property owners should test their alarms at least once a month and should the system require servicing this should be arranged as early as possible.
- Please ensure that all the key holder information is available and ensure that key holders are available and able to come out to the property should the alarm activate, and checking be required.
- Don’t leave ladders, spades or tools outside as these can be excellent break-in tools.
- Ensure that remote controls for automatic gates and garage doors are not left lying around.
- Always be alert to vehicles or persons following you into your entrance or the parking area.
- If people arrive to read electricity or water meters on your property, insist on seeing official identification and if possible, follow up with the relevant department before you allow them in.
- Be aware that people may present themselves with a ruse that they are doing collections for various ‘charities’ – this is almost guaranteed to be a scam.
BUSINESS AND RETAIL SECURITY
- Keep a list of emergency numbers next to the telephone
- Place static panic buttons in strategic areas of your store, e.g. in the cash office or storeroom.
- Keep the premises well-illuminated, both inside and out.
- Be Observant! Employees and employers should remain alert and observant. Things to watch for:
- Suspicious persons or vehicles around the business, especially at opening and closing time.
- People wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather, such as heavy coats during warm weather.
- Take special precautionary measures at the opening and closing items. Ensure that two or more staff members are present when the premises are being locked or unlocked.
- Try to use the most visible entrance to the business and avoid back/secluded entrances when opening/closing the business.
- Employ surveillance cameras strategically
- Implement some form of entrance and exit control. Make sure persons can be clearly identified by the cameras as the video footage assists the SAPS with their investigation.
- Inspect your CCTV cameras regularly, ensuring these are functioning optimally without any blind spots.
Shop owners can use the following tips:
- Maintain visibility throughout the store
- Do not keep a large amount of cash inside the store and change your pattern of banking
- Remain alert and watchful for suspicious activity
- Take precautions during the opening and closing of the facility
DEALING WITH CASH IN YOUR BUSINESS
- Alternate the days and times on which you deposit cash
- Never make your bank visits public, even to people close to you
- Do not openly display the money you are depositing while you are standing in the bank queue
- Avoid carrying money bags, briefcases or openly displaying your deposit receipt book
- It’s advisable to identify another branch nearby that you can visit to ensure that your banking pattern is not easily recognisable or detected
- If the amount of cash you are regularly depositing is increasing as your business grows, consider using the services of a cash management company
- Refrain from giving wages to your contract or casual labourers in full view of the public, rather make use of wage accounts that can be provided by your bank
- Refrain from driving to the bank in your company branded vehicle on a typical “pay day”
- Consider arranging for electronic transfers of wages to your contract workers or casual labourers personal bank accounts or using the “cash send” facility
BE CAREFUL WHO YOU HIRE
Businesses are suffering losses due to theft by their own employees. Unfortunately, businesses often employ staff without any background checks, copies of IDs or proof of address which means that the business has no details to assist the SAPS in conducting their investigations and resolving a case or finding their property back. We therefore urge businesses to please follow some basic good practices when hiring new staff, even if it is deemed casual or short-term staff:
- Make sure who you are hiring – insist on a proper ID and proof of residence
- Make copies of these documents and keep securely
- Insist on and check for previous working references – phone them and check
- Do random checks on staff before they leave the premises
- Secure unused equipment and tools to avoid items “walking out the door”
- There are many other good HR practices and safeguards that can be researched and applied with minimal cost implications. Please don’t be a victim and take the necessary precautions.
SAFETY TIPS FOR COMMUTERS & STAFF USING PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Here are some tips to remember, especially when walking alone at night:
- Awareness is your first line of defence – be aware of yourself and your surroundings
- Avoid walking alone;
- Trust your instincts: if something feels wrong, it most probably is;
- Avoid headphones: you need your ears to hear what is going on around you;
- When walking alone, don’t talk on your cell phone – you will be distracted and not aware of what is going on around you. Also, keep your phone out of sight;
- Strap your bag across your chest and hold it tight, without looking nervous. Keep the zip opening towards you. Remember, backpacks can easily be tampered without you noticing it;
- Do not carry too many packages at once – you must always have clear visibility and freedom of motion;
- Do not wear expensive jewellery;
- Do not carry large amounts of cash and avoid drawing money when walking alone at night;
- Stick to well-lit and busy streets. Avoid dark areas, parking lots or alleys;
- Don’t wear shoes or clothing that restricts your movements; and
- Carry a noisy friend – a whistle! Carry it around your wrist or in your hand, it will not be of any use in your bag.
- Use ATMs in well-lit and safe areas.
- Don’t allow your card to be removed from your sight.
- Don’t accept help from strangers or give out your pin, not even to persons claiming to be bank officials.
- Watch out for people standing very close to you and looking over your shoulder as you type in your pin.
- Never leave your card in the ATM, if stuck, follow instructions provided on the ATM machine.
- When cancelling an ATM card if it has been stuck please use the numbers on the wall in and around the ATM to cancel the card.
- Make sure you are not followed AFTER a transaction – After the transaction has been completed please remove printed slip as this will give information on the balance in the account.
SAFETY TIPS TO AVOID HIJACKINGS
Before Leaving your location:
GET OFF YOUR PHONE while approaching your vehicle. Yes, we all say we can multitask, but can we really?
- Take a walk around your vehicle to confirm that there is no one lurking around or in your vehicle before getting into your vehicle.
- Ensure your number plates are both on the vehicle and no papers are stuck to the rear or front windows of your vehicle. This is a trend used by suspects to lure you into stopping while your vehicle is running to either retrieve the number plate or remove the papers.
- Place all valuable items out of sight either under the seat or in the boot of your vehicle.
- Ensure your windows and doors are closed and locked before leaving.
- Plan your route before departure.
REMAIN OFF YOUR PHONE UNLESS THERE IS AN EMERGENCY. Not only are you at risk of being involved in an accident while driving and being on your phone, you are also placing your fellow drivers at risk. Not to mention it is illegal. Put your phone on silent or out of reach while driving.
- Be vigilant always and report any suspicious behaviour to the SAPS and your Local Security Service Provider.
- Leave enough manoeuvring space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
- If your windscreen or tyre is damaged while driving, drive to a well-lit area before stopping to inspect the damage.
- Do not stop for anyone that might indicate they need help in deserted or high-risk areas. Contact Law Enforcement, the SAPS or Security Company to assist.
- Take a different route daily when leaving home or returning home. Criminals pounce on the fact that we are following the same routine and routes.
- Though there is a misconception that only certain makes and models are being stolen or hijacked, if there is a need for a certain make or model vehicle in the vehicle crime market, any vehicle becomes a target.
- Lower your music, eliminating distractions and be extra vigilant 1 km from your destination, ensuring that you are not being followed.
- Park parallel to your home opening the gate prior to pulling into the driveway. Parking in your driveway while opening your gate might get you boxed in.
In the unfortunate event of a Hijacking:
- At no given time resist the attacker or suspects.
- Keep your hands visible always as the suspects are as nervous as you are.
- Be submissive and listen to the suspects’ instructions.
- Do not resist once you have exited the vehicle.
- Remain calm and try to identify any useful information about the hijackers without staring at them.
- Create time and space as quickly as possible between yourself and the threat.
- Take note of the Language the suspects speak
- Count the number of voices.
- Listen to the information the suspects share amongst themselves and possibly via cell phone.
- Estimate the height of the suspects by comparing it to your own height.
- Identify any clothing, markings and shoes of the suspects. Some suspects change their clothes but not their shoes.
WHY CRIMINALS OUTSMART MOTORISTS IN SMASH AND GRABS
“Checking your phone at a traffic light instead of your surroundings gives the criminal an advantage.” It is extremely important to never grab your phone to check your messages when stopping at a red traffic light. Although we understand that messages need to be checked. It is always advisable to get to your next destination first and check messages there.”
- Criminals usually target intersections after peak hour traffic. Be aware at all times. “They approach at an angle where the driver won’t really see them. Motorists should always be on the look-out when they approach a robot.”
- Criminals usually attack from blind-spots. Have enough space to manoeuvre.
- Use the car hooter to your advantage. If you feel you are being targeted and the culprits are headed your way while you are stuck between other vehicles. Press the horn and draw attention.
- Boot it or lose it – that is our motto. Make sure your valuables are safely locked away in your boot.
- Even though a smash-and-grab remains a traumatic experience, motorists should try to remain calm, and contact the police as soon as possible after an ordeal. Drive to your nearest police station or a populated area and contact the police. Inform them of the incident, where it happened, the time it happened, and if possible, a description of the clothing worn by the suspect.
- The criminals target people who leave their belongings on the car seat or under the seat, especially women.
- Avoid stopping in remote places.
- Always lock your vehicle doors and keep the windows closed.
- Do not open your windows for hawkers along the road or at traffic lights.
- Park your vehicle in well-lit areas at night.
- If a stranger wants to talk to you while you are in your vehicle, do not open the window too far. Rather open the window 5cm, enough to have a discussion.
- If something looks suspicious, do not talk to strangers, rather drive away.
- Limit your trips at night or let someone drive with you.
- If you are approached by a stranger while in your car, drive off if possible or sound your hooter to attract attention.
- If strangers loiter near or at your driveway, rather drive past. If they loiter for a long time, report it to your nearest police station.
- Be aware that car hijackers may stage a minor accident in order to approach your car.
- Avoid parking your vehicle where there are no security guards cars.
- Do not leave your firearm in the motor vehicle’s glove compartment or anywhere in the vehicle when you park (this is against the law).
- Valuable items like a laptop and camera should be put in the boot of your car.
- Be aware of people approaching you about a flat tyre; the intention can be to steal items they see inside the car or hijack your car.
- Do not use a cell phone while driving unless you have a hands-free kit.
- Do not leave your handbag/briefcase or any goods visible in the car.
- Do not leave your keys in the ignition when you’re not present or not attending to your vehicle.
- Have your keys ready in your hand as you approach your car, especially if they are difficult to find in your handbag.
- Remove detachable radios and the radio’s face when getting out of the car.
- Fit your car with anti-smash and grab windows.
- Always be vigilant of your surroundings.
- Smash and grab criminals will target valuables that can be sold, such as purses, handbags and wallets, briefcases and backpacks, cell phones, MP3 players and tablets, loose change and CDs.
- Before entering your vehicle, look through the back window to ensure no one is already in your vehicle.
- When locking your doors via remote control, make sure the doors are locked before walking away.
- Be familiar with alternative routes.
- Be vigilant at stop streets, robots and intersections.
- If you are involved in a minor accident where no one was injured, and you feel your environment is unsafe, drive to the nearest police station immediately or a public area and report the accident to the police from there
SAFETY TIPS IN RAINY WEATHER
Driving in the wet requires that motorists take extreme caution to ensure their and other road-user’s safety.
- Expect and be prepared for delays on the road during poor weather conditions.
- Always turn on your headlights
- In heavy rain, use the brightest setting for you tail lights to improve visibility
- Ensure that your wiper blades are in good condition before the rainy season starts
- Always ensure that you have sufficient tread on your tyres
- Adjust your speed and following distance to ensure that you can stop safely
- Avoid abrupt acceleration, breaking and steering movements
- Do not drive through flooded areas
- If you experience car trouble, turn on your hazard lights and pull off the road
- Spray from other vehicles reduces visibility considerably. Take extra care when passing other vehicles
DON’T BE A VICTIM OF CYBER-CRIME
Cyber-crime is a fast-growing area of crime. More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities that know no borders, either physical or virtual. These crimes can be divided into the following three broad areas:
- Attacks against computer hardware and software, for example, botnets, malware and network intrusion.
- Financial crimes and corruption, such as online fraud, penetration of online financial services and phishing.
- Abuse in the form of grooming or ‘”sexploitation”, especially crimes against children.
Here are a few cyber-crime prevention tips, to help avoid becoming a victim of such crime.
- Use strong passwords – use different user ID/password combinations for different accounts and avoid writing them down. Make the passwords more complicated by combining letters, numbers, special characters (a minimum of 10 characters in total) and change them regularly.
- Secure your computer –
- Activate your firewall – Firewalls are the first line of cyber defence. They block connections to unknown or bogus sites and will keep out a number of types of viruses and hackers.
- Use anti-virus/malware software – Prevent viruses from infecting your computer by installing and regularly updating anti-virus software.
- Block spyware attacks – Prevent spyware from infiltrating your computer by installing and updating anti-spyware software.
- Be social media savvy – make sure your social networking profiles, for example, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MSN, among other social networks, are set to private. Check your security settings. Be careful of what information you post online. Once it is on the internet, it is there forever!
- Secure your mobile devices – be aware that your mobile device is vulnerable to viruses and hackers. Download applications from trusted sources.
- Protect your data – use encryption for your most sensitive files, such as tax returns or financial records, back up all your important data regularly and store it in another location.
- Secure your wireless network – Wi-Fi networks at home or the office are vulnerable to intrusion if they are not secured properly. Review and modify default settings. Public Wi-Fi, also known as” hotspots”, is also vulnerable. Avoid performing financial or corporate transactions on these networks.
- Protect your e-identity – be cautious when giving out personal information, such as your name, address, phone number or financial information on the internet. Make sure that websites are secure, for example, when making online purchases, or that you have enabled privacy settings, for example, when accessing/using social networking sites.
- Avoid being scammed – always think before you click on a link or file of unknown origin. Do not feel pressured by any emails. Check the source of the message. When in doubt, verify the source. Never reply to emails that ask you to verify your information or confirm your user ID or password.
- Call the right person for help – do not panic if you are a victim, if you encounter illegal internet content, or if you suspect a computer crime, identity theft or a commercial scam, report this at your local police station. If you need help with maintenance or software installation on your computer, contact your service provider or a certified computer technician.