Are you living dangerously?

A home loan is the means that allows most people to buy a home.  Your home is your sanctuary: the place where you can relax and be yourself; the place where you can entertain and enjoy your spare time and most importantly, a safe space to raise a family.  However, have you made sure it is really safe?

In South Africa we all know that the crime rate is very high.  In 2015 the crime statistics released by the South African Police Service indicate that there were 20 281 “robberies at residential premises” and there were 253 716 “burglaries at residential premises”. The difference in definition between robbery and burglary is that burglary is the illegal entry into a premise with the intention of committing a crime (mostly theft), and robbery is theft that is accomplished with force or the threat of force (such the use of a weapon or violence).  A sobering thought.

None of us wish to end up a statistic.  We also do not want to live our lives in perpetual fear.  So what can do to make sure you don’t become a victim of crime in your home? Your home loan secured the house for you; now you need to secure your home.

Home Security Tips:

1. See it to Believe it!

The first thing you can do is look at the physical security of your home.  In times gone by you could build a deep moat inhabited by crocodiles.Today it is more customary to build a wall or fence around your perimeter.  Whilst many people choose a wall for aesthetic purposes, bear in mind that there is much more visibility with a fence and it makes it more difficult for an intruder to gain entrance to your property without being seen.

Burglar bars, security gates, electric fencing, razor wire.  These are all examples of devices that can be used to physically protect your home and its occupants.  You can often structure your home loan in such a way that you have access to money to finance these options.

2. Sound the Alarm!

Another obvious way of securing your property is using an alarm system.   This could be a sophisticated alarm with beams in your garden, motion detectors in the house, panic buttons, sirens, and a radio signal to an armed response company. It could also be a simple, makeshift, early-warning system.

3. Bring the Village back to the Suburbs

Most of us do not know our neighbours. High walls or fences separate our properties.  In the suburbs many live an insular existence, retreating into their homes behind gates and locked doors.   Have you considered how different it could be if you knew your neighbours?  What if your neighbour was keeping an eye on your house because they knew you were away?  How would it be if you could message your neighbour that there is a suspicious looking character loitering in the street?

Modern technology can be a facilitator for creating community and safe spaces. A Whatsapp group including all the people in a street or neighborhood can be a powerful tool to connect people and share information.  A Facebook group can assist people in getting to know each other, and create a community that feels connected and looks out for the welfare of others.

Now that you have the home loan and you have the house…

International statistics show that the majority of thefts in the home occur within the first twelve months of moving into a property. This is even truer in South Africa.  You are new to the area, and to your home, and you are not yet aware of the vulnerabilities of your neighbourhood and your house.  This makes you a prime target.

The best advice I have heard in this regard is “act like a skelm”.  Approach your home as if you were a thief that wanted to exploit the vulnerabilities your home presents.  Most burglaries are opportunistic – the weakness presents itself and is too good to pass up – and if you “case” your own property you can see what changes you need to make.

Your home loan has assisted you in getting your dream house.  Don’t let it become a nightmare.  You can secure your home by making simple changes and being more aware of your surroundings.  Connecting to your community, or being the catalyst that creates a community, is a worthwhile and valuable endeavor.

Yours in Property