Avoid becoming a crime statistic over holidays

Thuli Zungu Consumer Line
Make sure your house has burglars to avoid break-in.
Make sure your house has burglars to avoid break-in.

The festive season is only a stone's throw away and many people will be going away for holidays and posting their whereabouts on social media platforms.

House-breakings are most prevalent during the festive season as criminals target homes of these holiday-makers.

Last week's crime statistics report revealed that more than 21.2-million crimes were reported in SA since 2010 and two million of those were between April 2018 and March.

More than 71,000 burglaries were committed this financial year during holidays, the statistics showed.

Consumers do not upgrade their assets list with their insurers and as a results under-insurance remains a persistent problem.

The recent statistics suggest that more than 60% of South Africans under-insure their assets.

The South African Insurance Association (SAIA) also cautioned consumers to not post on social media that they are away.

"Not only do you run the risk of being a target for criminals to break into your home but you also run the risk of getting your claim rejected should something happen due to negligent behaviour," said Marius Neethling, an underwriting manager at Santam.

Neethling warned property and business owners to be vigilant and proactively protect themselves and their homes and businesses from burglars.

Neethling said though houses were still broken into during this financial year there was a decrease in property-related crimes compared to previous years.

"Positively, there was a decrease in property-related crimes. However, we urge South Africans to remain vigilant and to put simple methods in place to proactively protect themselves and their homes," said Neethling

According to the statistics, robberies at residential properties increased in Gauteng by 3.7% and in North West by 12.8%.

Nationally, there were 113,089 reported cases of malicious damage to property.

Neethling gives the following safety tips to owners:

Install burglar bars. Burglar bars and safety gates protect the entrance points of your home and act as a deterrent due to the effort in breaking through them.

Invest in a security system. A home security system is important for your peace of mind.

Consider one that allows for home automation, particularly if you travel often. This enables you to control your security system easily using your mobile device.

"It is common to forget to lock your doors or windows when you're excited about an international holiday," Neethling said.

Keep up appearances to make people think you're home. Ask a friend or neighbour to periodically pop by, check the doors, get the mail, open the curtains and switch the lights on for a while.

"They could even wheel out the wheelie bin on collection day to really hammer home the fact that you're on hand," he said.

Before going on holiday, have your geyser inspected by a registered plumber.

Alternatively, when travelling, you can also consider switching off your geyser as hot water won't be needed for this period. This would nullify the possibility of a geyser bursting while you are away.

Make sure you have fire extinguishers in good working order located close to any places where fires might be expected to break out.

Remember that using water on fires caused by flammable liquids could make the fire worse.

Make sure your home contents are adequately insured to reflect their current replacement values.

Remember, you will need to provide reasonable proof of ownership to substantiate your claim, either in the form of a proof of purchase, valuation certificates or photographs, as specified by your insurer.

Comply with the security requirements of your policy. If your insurance policy has a requirement that stipulates that you need burglar bars, this will be compulsory.

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