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Home security features to look for when buying a home

Home security is a key feature for home buyers in South Africa, and advancing technology provides powerful ways of securing your home against invaders.

Home Security Tips

Article summary

  • In South Africa, the vast majority of prospective buyers consider security features to be a top priority when choosing a new home.
  • An alarm system is important, but not enough by itself. Homeowners need to focus on making their home a hard target.
  • Professional burglars watch homes to try to identify patterns of behaviour, so security devices that make it seem as though the house is occupied are a powerful tool. 

Security is a key feature for home buyers in South Africa, and advancing technology provides new and powerful ways to secure your home against invaders.

Home security: What’s on offer

Here are a few examples of powerful security features:

  1. Alarm systems. The go-to security measure.
  2. Burglar bars. Tried and tested.
  3. Fences. We discuss your options.
  4. Dogs. An effective form of security since prehistoric times.
  5. Exterior lights. Surprisingly effective.
  6. Smart home system. Keep watch on the home from remote locations..
  7. A safe neigbourhood. Reliable neighbours can’t be beat.

1. Alarm systems

  • Alarm systems installed by an armed security company are an essential form of security.
  • Alarm systems need to be regularly tested. Many homeowners forget this.
  • Smart criminals will sometimes deliberately trigger an alarm system several times, assuming that the owner will eventually switch the alarm off because they think it’s malfunctioning.
  • An inefficient alarm system that reacts to any stimuli will be like the boy who cried wolf; home owners and even neighbours will begin to ignore it.

2. Burglar bars

  • They may not be aesthetically pleasing but they’ll put off your average hooligan.
  • Bars need to be high-quality as burglars will easily break off cheap bars.
  • Bear in mind that burglar bars close off possible exits in the case of a fire, so ensure you have fire protection and escapes in place.

3. Fences

  • You can splurge on an electric fence, or get a simple wall with barbed wire on top.
  • Fences have the additional benefit of preventing passers-by from seeing whether the house is occupied. However this can also backfire; it provides intruders with cover if they do bypass it.
  • Like alarm systems, electric fences need to be maintained.
  • A fence is not enough by itself. A lot of criminals actually target houses with fences because they assume that the homeowners rely so much on the fence that they haven’t put other measures in place.
  • Professional criminals can breach any fence, but even then, putting this obstacle in place at least buys time for the home occupants to react.

4. Dogs.

  • The South African Police Service website recommends having at least one dog trained to sleep inside the house, and having a fence or wall in place so that the dogs can move freely around the property.
  • Bear in mind that dogs kept outside the property are at risk of being scared away or even poisoned by determined intruders.
  • Dogs serve as a deterrent and an alarm system. In fact, the noise they make if there’s an intruder is a bigger deterrent to criminals than the actual dog itself.

5. Exterior lighting

Exterior lighting that is motion-controlled is even better. Any burglar will feel like a deer in the headlights if the lights suddenly go on while they’re approaching the property.

6. Smart home system

  • An effective smart home system allows you to check security cameras from whereever you are.
  • They can also be used to turn electrical appliances off and on, giving any onlookers the impression that people are active in the house.
  • Common crooks prefer to target homes during the day when people are at work or school. They’re unlikely to approach a house that seems occupied.

7. A safe neighbourhood

  • Forming a neighbourhood watch is a highly effective measure. 
  • Police services suggest that cooperation between members of a neighbourhood is one of the most effective measures in preventing break-ins.
  • Either way, you’ll want to be able to rely on your neighbours to look out for suspicious activity while you’re away.
  • When you first purchase a home, estate agents can advise you on crime levels by location. 
  • The position of the home in the neighbourhood is a factor. Criminals tend to target homes closer to steet corners as it allows them to more easily keep watch for approaching vehicles.
  • You should also do your research and investigate whether there have been break-ins in an area before purchasing a property there.

The key thing to remember…

Most burglars are opportunists looking for an easy target. Just doing enough to convince passers-by that there are easier targets elsewhere is usually sufficient.

What about professional criminals?

Professional criminals have an array of methods for bypassing standard security features.

Their primary tool is inside information. This is what professional criminals rely on the most. If someone has told them there is something very valuable in the house, they are prepared to take greater risk to obtain it.

A combination of advanced security methods; such as an effective alarm system, a dog, neighborhood watch and constant communication with neighbours is key to foiling cunning criminals.

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