If you have jumped on the semigration bandwagon you are likely in foreign territory when it comes to the ins and outs of security in your new neighborhood.
The pace of life may be quieter and the view better, but crime remains a reality in South Africa regardless of how picturesque your new address is, warns Charnel Hattingh, Head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity ADT.
She says that regardless of whether you are buying into a gated community, townhouse complex, cluster or normal residential area, it is wise to research the suburb to find out what the crime statistics and trends are before taking the leap.
Local security companies are one avenue for good advice. Another is to talk to neighbors.
Hattingh urges established residents to share security information with families that have just moved into the area.
“Moving into a home can be chaotic and overwhelming. All the activity and distraction could create a gap for criminals to pounce, so go across the street and introduce yourself and offer to keep an eye out from your home while your new neighbors settle in.”
“In a couple of days you can have a more formal sit-down and chat about the neighborhood and the security concerns or protocols.”
One of the things Hattingh advises new neighbors are made aware of is the predominant security provider for the area.
“New residents will more than likely be looking for a security company. It would make sense for them to sign up to the same security provider as the more clients in a street or suburb, the more resources can ultimately be dedicated to patrolling and armed reaction,” she explains.
5 other points to discuss with new neighbors:
- Crime trends and what is being done about them.
- CPF and neighborhood watch – when do they meet, who to contact.
- Community Whatsapp groups
- Crime hotspots and what is being done about them.
- Community initiatives, like grass clearing, removing of illegal dumping, information sessions for domestic workers.
“New residents often bring renewed enthusiasm and ideas, so take advantage of this to come up with more ways to keep your suburb safe. The best solutions are not always necessarily the most elaborate or expensive,” says Hattingh.
“For example, an information session for domestic workers could take place in a park under the trees every month with your security provider present to give advice and keep you all safe.
“Hiring help is a two-way street. Domestic workers have a responsibility towards homeowners and their property and homeowners have a responsibility towards the safety of their workers while they are on the property,” Hattingh says.
She adds that it is imperative that homeowners equip their staff with the knowledge and tools they need to protect themselves and those in their care.
A regular info session is also a great opportunity for domestic staff to share phone numbers and share experiences and advice.
Another tip is to get to know the daily routines of your neighbours as this is one of the quickest ways to spot whether something is out of place and initiate assistance from your security provider.
“Security is not the sole responsibility of the police and private security companies. Residents are a vital link in the chain and the more we all invest in our own streets and suburbs to keep them safe, the greater the impact on crime fighting efforts,” Hattingh concludes.