The SAPS crime statistics released in September may have shown a marginal decline in house robberies but Dial Direct Insurance's claims data suggests otherwise. With the festive season approaching, we are warning South Africans to be extra vigilant as they gear down and criminals gear up for the holidays.
The SAPS recorded a decrease of 1.9% in house robberies in the 2011/12 financial year; however, our comparison of claims data from the 2010/11 and 2011/12 periods shows that house robberies increased by 5.06%.
I cite the findings of the 2012 Victims of Crime Survey by Statistics SA, in saying that house robberies and break-ins are experienced and feared by a lot of South Africans.
In this year's survey, 1.5% of the respondents reported that they had been victims of a house robbery at least once in 2011, which was the reference period for the 2012 survey. House breaking was experienced by 5.4% of the respondents in the past year, compared to 4.5% in 2010.House robbery is most feared
House robbery was rated the most-feared crime by 50% of the survey participants and 46% perceive it to be the most common. The majority (59%) of households declared housebreaking to be the most common crime and 57% said it was the crime they feared the most.
Certainly, having their home invaded by criminals, whether in a robbery or burglary, is ranked high on South Africans' list of crime-related fears. It also remains a prevalent crime, which usually increases over the December period when a lot of people go away on holiday. Typically, we experience about a 10% increase in claims relating to house robberies and break-ins over the festive season.
With this in mind, we are urging people to be on guard and step-up security at their homes even if it means using their end-of-year bonus or dipping into their savings. The return on investment is a safer home. Dial Direct recommends the following:
- Fit all access doors with security gates.
- Install burglar bars on windows.
- Cut away tree branches and remove other things that could be used as leverage for getting into the house.
- Install an alarm system to provide an early warning of a security breach. This should be linked up to a reputable armed-response service.
- Notify the security company/armed response company that you will be going away.
- Ask a trusted neighbour or friend who lives close by to keep an eye on your home. Ideally, ask someone to visit the property daily to clear the mailbox and switch lights on and off to make it appear as though someone is home.
- Store irreplaceable, sentimental items in a safe.
I would conclude by stressing the importance of having adequate home contents insurance in place.
Check that your home contents insurance is up-to-date and that the amount for which you are insured is adequate. It is a good idea to send an updated inventory list to your insurance provider before going away to ensure that all the goods you want insured are included.