Any time when a person is forced to comply with a criminal’s demands and submit to their will is a traumatic experience. We really should be, with every possible means at our disposal, planning and moulding our surroundings in a manner that drastically reduces the risk of this ever happening to us.
Blame is the mantra of the eternal loser. We need to move out of this vicious cycle of pointing fingers at everything else and start putting workable procedures in place that both protects and empowers ourselves.
1st Commandment: Secure ye thy boundary.
If you have fences or walls that your average teenager can scale then criminals can too. Do what you must to make your fences or boundary wall as uninviting and difficult to climb as possible. Reinforce outside gates or doors with strong bolts that are welded to the gate or fixed to the door. After hours or when there is no pedestrian traffic you can latch it and lock it with the biggest padlock you can find.
2nd Commandment: Guard thy gate.
Nobody comes on your property until their identity is confirmed and their credentials verified. This rule must be employed by every single person who lives or works on or even regularly visits your property. “Most of the time” is the formula for failure. If the person wanting to enter is not a verified, recognised or identified guest or visitor, entrance is refused and you can call your armed response or the SAPS to investigate. You do not bend. You do not go outside to “see”. You do not enter into negotiations or discussions. Practice the words, “Go away.”
3rd Commandment: Thy employees shalt follow the rules.
No matter whether they work in your house, in your garden or in your office on the property, they abide by the rules all the time with no exceptions. I am the boss and I make the decisions. I do not care for, “oh it’s my son’s friend.” This is MY house. I decide who comes in. Do your employees have keys/remotes/swipe cards to enter your property or home? How secure are these? It is your home. Take control of it.
4th Commandment: Thy employees art human.
A domestic worker becomes the gatekeeper when you are not home. It is her responsibility to control entry to your property. Read that as nobody comes in unless she recognises that person or is a vetted visitor or guest. Time and time again I see crimes occurring because “the maid let them in.” This is unacceptable. This is not to say she is an armed guard, but she isn’t a “Welcome” mat either. A domestic worker can however be a victim. Many house robberies occur against domestic workers. They are severely assaulted and dragged around the houses, made to point out items of value. Get rid of the myth of racism in criminals. The label “criminal” does not have a coloured tag attached.
5th Commandment: Ye shalt not be predictable.
As with hijackings, routines can work for you and against you. Arriving home or leaving are points of contact where a criminal knows you will be at your weakest. Switch on. Don’t be complacent. Check your surroundings. And please alert. Lerts live longer.
6th Commandment: Closeth thy damn doors.
According to victims own statements, what possesses them to have driveway gates and house doors standing open at 8 or 9 pm? What more could a criminal want? Community members seemed to have eventually learnt a lesson. Close your front door, lock it, and crooks don’t walk in. Amazing. This applies to garden gates too. Almost every night neighbourhood watch patrollers and Police are finding people leaving their driveway gates open. How much more of an invite would a prospective crook want than to be able to drive into your yard, conceal their vehicle from casual glances from the road and then do their business? Don’t tell me about the “gate crash gang”. There are enough free opportunities out there. Reduce the risk. Close up.
7th Commandment: Thy cannot fight what thy cannot see.
Don’t illuminate yourself. You should know who you are. If you blind yourself coming home with a gazillion Watt lamp above your garage door you will not see any threat that may be waiting for you. Light up the dark corners and shrubbery. That’s where criminals hide. Illuminate your outside walls in a manner that it does not blind you or anyone else, including your neighbours. Close your curtains at night. You will be amazed by what can and be seen even from the road. Your privacy is a protection. A prospective crook should not be able to gather information about you through your windows, especially when you are vulnerable at night.
8th Commandment: More than one of thy guests should remain sober.
Yes, there have been incidents where parties have been pooped by crooks coming in and holding everyone up. You should have at least a few designated drivers who stay sober. These people become your Gate keepers. It is not only crooks we are worried about. Any emergency at the residence cannot be appropriately dealt with if everyone is smashed out of their minds. Think if you had a medical emergency or a child has an accident in a pool. If everyone is drunk, nobody will be able to react appropriately to that, let alone drive drunk to a hospital. Behave yourselves.
9th Commandment: Limit thee thy loss.
Just about everyone has a safe in the back of the cupboard. So too, do not put all your jewellery, watches, cash, cards, guns, etc in one safe. Get another safe, hide it properly and put your most valuable stuff in there. Put things that are replaceable in the decoy safe that everyone knows about. Mark your property in a permanent way. Microdots or even scratching or branding your name and telephone number into your valuables make it much more difficult to fence stolen property. The more people do this, the less criminals will see them as viable targets. Be careful what you say around staff. Guard your information.
10th Commandment: Thy shalt reap what thy spendeth.
You simply cannot buy the cheapest rubbish or duck and dive and expect it to protect your million plus Rand home. How much do you spend on entertainment against how much do you spend on security? To effectively protect yourself and your family you need to set bucks aside every month or every three months and conduct some level of security upgrade. Your mind set and attitude towards yourself, your home and your community dictates very simply to whether you are a happy person or not. Some of the most fulfilling work you can do is volunteer work. Street Watches, Neighbourhood Watches, Street Committees are a moral and physical drawing together of like-minded people who want to do something positive in improving the communal area. It evolves from a “my problem” to “our solution”.