3 of the biggest crime risks in South African residential estates right now

While the growth in residential estates continues, crime syndicates continue to target lifestyle estates – more often than not, using inside information to gain access.

“Although lifestyle estates and complexes offer greater security, crime is still a factor,” warned Marcel Pienaar, estate and risk security specialist at Fidelity ADT.

“Electric fences can and should be incorporated and integrated with the cameras. When there is a disturbance at the electric fence, the camera focusing on that specific zone will kick into operation,” he said.

“An alarm will be triggered and the officer monitoring the cameras can watch that zone to see whether it is a legit breach and a response team can be dispatched.”

Residents need to do their part

While perimeter security is a non-negotiable, Pienaar said that very often crimes within estates are carried out with the assistance of a domestic staff member.

“Make sure you have properly checked your domestic worker’s and gardener’s references and educate them on keeping your home secure when you are not there.”

He added that while security companies are constantly on the look-out for ways to improve their service to residents in estates, residents have to do their part too.

“You can’t rely on perimeter security alone,” he said. While perimeter security measures have been successful in driving down crime in estates, once criminals gain access to properties within estates they often have free reign.

“This is because residents become complacent about their personal home security. Be sure to lock doors and windows and ensure vehicles are locked even if parked in a garage. Don’t leave valuables lying around, particularly where they may be visible to a passer-by,” said Pienaar.

Entrance risks

He added that it’s important to always be alert when entering and exiting the estate.

“Criminals have targeted residents leaving from or returning to estates and hijacked them a few metres from the gates, if not right in front of the gates,” he said.

“The reality is that people relax and become less and less alert the closer they get to home. Don’t think that just because there is a security guard at the gate that you can become complacent. If you notice anything suspicious at the gate rather don’t pull in right away but watch from a safe distance.”

Construction and new neighbours

“Watch out if there is construction on the go. Having construction workers on site within estates has historically resulted in elevated crime levels. And report suspicious behaviour,” said Pienaar.

“A growing trend in estates is for a crime syndicate to move into a home for a period of time.

“During this time they monitor the behaviour of residents and initiate house break-ins in the estate before moving out. If you notice any suspicious behaviour – ie blinds or curtains permanently drawn – report it immediately to your security company,” he said.

Read: Police minister Cele announces new measures to stop violent crime in South Africa

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3 of the biggest crime risks in South African residential estates right now