- 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 homebuyers in South Africa, and advancing technology provides new and powerful ways of securing your home against invaders.
Security tips from the people who reinforce your homes
Two key things that homeowners should bear in mind when planning their security system:
- Some burglars are not really burglars, just opportunists looking for an easy take; they will move on at the first sign of any obstacle. But professional burglars are sophisticated. They watch homes for a while before making a move, so they can get an idea of patterns of behaviour among the occupants.
- The key to everything is to convince the burglar that your home isn’t worth the risk, and that there are easier targets to be found elsewhere.
With that in mind, here are some other valuable security tips provided by industry insiders:
Your go-to security measure is an alarm system, preferably one installed by an armed response company.
One problem is that homeowners get complacent and forget to regularly test their alarm system. Agnieszka Gryn, regional executive at Fidelity ADT, says “too often when there has been a break-in we find that either alarm systems aren’t functioning properly because they have not been tested or maintained”.
Agnieszka Gryn suggests putting burglar bars on the outside of the windows, even though they may not be as aesthetically pleasing. Ensure high-quality bars that are professionally installed, as burglars are able to remove cheaper, low quality bars by screwing them out of the anchoring walls.
Gryn also mentions the importance of having an escape route in place in case of a fire, so ensure the front and back doors are accessible, and that there are smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in place.
An electric fence or wall can be a solid deterrence. If it’s a wall, it helps to reinforce it with barb wire or spikes on top; otherwise burglars will be able to easily climb over it. Most homeowners will add a fence for the purpose of privacy anyway; plus it prevents passers by from easily seeing whether the house is currently occupied or not. Agnieszka Gryn suggests getting rid of any foliage in the area so criminals can’t use them as cover.
Chubb Security South Africa recommends exterior lighting, and even better if it’s motion controlled. Even the most hardened burglar is sure to feel like a deer in the headlights when they find themselves suddenly illuminated. It will also alert neighbours.
It’s not just about the equipment you have; it’s about psychological warfare. For example, an easy yet effective measure is to leave televisions and lights on. Chris McGoey, a Certified Safety Professional and Certified Protection Professional, writes that burglars usually target homes during the day when everyone is at work or school, or at night when the house is dark. Setting timers to turn TV, radio and lights on at specific times will give them the impression that the house occupants are up and about.
This tactic will be especially effective if you invest in a smart home system, so you can control lights and check security cameras remotely.
Beware of dog
Of course, a large dog is one of the best forms of security, serving as both a deterrent and an alarm system. 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.
But even if you don’t have a dog, a “beware of dog” sign can go a long way.
Hiding your valuables
Convicted burglars have confessed that they “always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet” first. So don’t stow your valuables in the obvious locations. You can also pull a bait-and-switch on burglars by storing seemingly valuable items that are actually worthless in obvious locations, such as a broken laptop. The burglar isn’t going to have time to test it before making off with the goods.
The classic approach to home security is making friends with the neighbours. That means forming a neighbourhood watch, and relying on neighbours to keep a watch on your home, especially when you’re on vacation. They can make sure your trash and mail don’t pile up, so as not to make it obvious that you’ve temporarily vacated the home.
Whatever your plan is, ensure that your security provider is a registered member of the South African Intruder Detection Service Associations (SAIDSA), so you can be confident that their equipment and training meets the necessary standards.
Of course, the first step to installing home security is owning a home, and if you’re looking to purchase one, ooba home loans provides a range of tools that make the home-buying process easier. Start with their home loan calculators; then use their free, online prequalification tool, the ooba Bond Indicator, to determine what you can afford. Finally, when you’re ready, you can apply for a home loan.