Credit: gleangenie @ morgueFileJohannesburg is the economic center of South Africa. With a wide disparity in income levels, it also makes it a hot spot for crime. As you drive through Jo'burg's leafy green suburbs, home security systems abound. Things like high walls, electric fencing and surveillance cameras are easily visible from the street. These security methods may be completely out-of-place in your neighborhood, but there are other tips and tricks practiced daily by Jo'burg natives that will help you to guard your home from intrusion.
It may seem obvious that you need to control access to your home, but many people forget about the small access points like basement windows. Fresh air is terrific for your home, but it is also an easy way for someone to get in without making enough commotion to alert your neighbors. Make sure to keep all accessible windows closed and locked when you are not at home and when the family is asleep.
Burglars will often watch a home for a few days or weeks before they break in. They will be looking for any security systems, dogs that may prove a problem, easy ways in and out, as well as the routines and schedules of the family that lives there. They will also be checking for when your neighborhood is quiet. The trick is to vary your schedule as much as you can. You may not be able to leave later for work, but you can vary your schedule by leaving earlier some days. If there is no one home during the day and you live on a quiet street, try to stop home occasionally during your lunch hour. If one of your neighbor's has a family member who is at home during the day, you can always ask them to cast an eye on your home every now and again. Although this will not detract from opportunist crime, it can help if you house is on a criminal watch list.
Your Address Is Private
Be careful of whom you give your address to. Of course you need to have an address that you give to the bank and creditors, along with many other institutions. Be wary however of people who show interest in where you live. From co-workers to friends of friends, you never know who is trustworthy and who isn't. If you have just shared information about expensive interests with a stranger, it isn't a good idea to tell them where you stay. As much as you can, keep anything with your address out of your car and your purse, in case any one decides it is a good time to have a look. On that note, if you happen to notice a car trailing you after a shopping spree, don't ever go home. Go to the nearest police station or head to a place crawling with security.
Call the Police
If you notice a strange car or person outside your house, just call the police. If you have a security company, you will find that they will be happy to send a car around, if don't you will need to call your local police. You may not want to make a big deal out of nothing, but you can always call if you are feeling insecure about your home (or your own) safety. It may be nothing, but police would far rather avert a crime than investigate one that has already happened. Prevention is key.
There are many home security companies around the world and in your neighborhood. Their job is to watch your home while you are gone. Your area will have a standard package that may include a link to your home security system or neighborhood monitoring with a patrol vehicle. They charge a small monthly fee for their service. If your home is often vacant due to your schedule or you have a heavy insurance bill, you should investigate the security companies in your area. You will need to weigh up the cost of the services with the service you will receive. Look for the companies that are most popular in your city, but also consider smaller operations that are often patrolling your neighborhood.
If all the homes on your street have an alarm system, it is a good idea for you to get one too. You may think that having a security system encourages burglars to believe there is something of value in your house. However, if everyone but you on the block has one and you don't, your home has just become a target. At the same time, keep in mind that an obviously secured home in a sea of unsecured houses will make your home one of interest. It doesn't mean you shouldn't install a security system, but you should be discreet about it. Start with a system that can be upgraded.
In Johannesburg, locking your front gate is almost the same as brushing your teeth. It is just something you do to protect you and yours. Whether you live in a big city or a quieter suburb, it is worth taking the time to look around you and secure your home.