Preventing or minimising the risk of residential robberies


November 10, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Security Information



Researched conducted for his PhD by Professor Rudolph Zinn, senior lecturer in Forensic and Crime investigation at the University of South Africa, found that community crime prevention initiatives could make a difference in reducing the risk of a certain area becoming targeted by perpetrators of house robberies. For example regular neighbourhood watch schemes, random community patrol initiatives, or guards stationed at street corners who are linked by radio communication will make a certain community less attractive to criminals. For example, the police precinct of Garsfontein recorded a decrease of 36.5% in residential robberies during the 2007/08 financial year following community based crime prevention initiatives. This was at a time when residential robberies were increasing substantially across the country.

The research also sought to identify measures that could be taken by people to minimise the risk of their particular residence becoming a target. The perpetrators were asked about the things that would make them hesitate to target a house or that would make it difficult for them to access a house. They generally answered that if the reward was big enough that nothing could keep them from attacking a house. Nevertheless, there were factors that would make their lives difficult and could hamper their attack on a house. Out of 119 different answers that were given, the most frequently mentioned preventative measures in order of effectiveness were stated as follows:

  • The presence of a number of small dogs inside the house that will bark when they become aware of suspicious activity outside. Teach any dogs not to take food from
    strangers as perpetrators will not hesitate to poison a dog to neutralise it as a threat.
  • Razor wire or electric security fences around the entire perimeter of the house. Beware of an electric fence alarm repeatedly going off as this could be caused by perpetrators deliberately causing a short circuit to the fence in order to get the residents to turn the fence off.
  • Pre-warning alarm systems such as security alarm sensors in the garden, along the outside walls, on the roof and in the ceiling. Alarm systems in garages or storerooms will make perpetrators lives difficult as they generally do not carry housebreaking tools with them. Usually break into a garage or tool shed first to get what they need
    to force the locks or break the windows of a house.An armed response service;
  • There is an ‘open view’ into the house or garden from the street or a neighbouring property. This means that the perpetrator could be seen by a neighbour or a person in the street;
  • Security lights that make it difficult to move around the outside of the house at night without being seen, especially sensor lights in front of bedrooms;
  • CCTV systems and an intercom system for speaking to people who are outside of the property;
  • Layers of security as opposed to a single security system;
  • Strong doors and security gates with good quality locks;
  • Door alarms that are activated when residents are at home;
  • Curtains are drawn at night which prevent perpetrators from identifying the movement and location of the residents in the house;
  • The existence of a “secure room” within the house where residents are able to escape to once they are aware of an attack.
  • Panic buttons should be placed where residents are most likely to need them. Apart from doorways, these devices should be kept in places where residents will be able to access them in places where they are likely to be held during the robbery. For instance in the lounge under chairs or tables, under beds in bedrooms, in bathrooms as people are often locked in bathrooms and bedrooms during a robbery.
  • Always check of signs of a forced entry when entering or leaving your home;
  • Keep a copy of the ID Book of any employees who have access to or work at the house including names and contact details of their relatives.

In analysing the responses, the researcher found that out of all the measures that would hinder a house robber, 68% of them refer to securing the outer-perimeter of house and garden while 32% refer to internal security systems. This is because once the perpetrators have managed to get close to the house, the advantage they have in terms of the element of surprise leaves the residents with fewer defensive options. However, if the residents are alerted to a person jumping over their wall, they will have time to lock doors and raise the alarm

Source – Institute for Security Studies

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