New data from Auto & General Insurance has revealed a 33% spike in home invasion claims over the festive period, particularly between Christmas week and new year.
The spike is likely due to people visiting family and friends, leaving their homes vulnerable. But Auto & General says this is also the time that people splurge on high-value goods as Christmas gifts.
There’s also a significant shift in how criminals gain entry into our homes.
Prior to Covid-19, most criminals gained entry through a window. But the pandemic has forced many to stay home, so criminals have to get more inventive, or in our case, brazen.
Nowadays, it’s quite normal for criminals to just walk through the front or back door.
“This could indicate that, with more people opting to stay at home, criminals would rather pounce on doors that are left unsecured or use tactics like impersonating a delivery person or technician to gain easier entry,” said Auto & General’s Ricardo Coetzee.
Night-time incidents (occurring between 6pm and 6am) have increased by 10% during the December month.
But the incidents are only reported some two days after they happen.
“We must remember that criminals don’t take holidays and that we cannot afford to let our guard down,” said Coetzee.
“But, with some good proactive planning and the necessary precautions in place, the festive season has a much better chance of being drama-free,” said Coetzee.
Festive season home safety tips
- Use every security measure available, even when you’re home. Leaving a perimeter fence or alarm unarmed, a second door unlocked or a window open – even if you go out very briefly – creates the perfect opportunity for a criminal to strike.
- Look out for suspicious vehicles or individuals leaving and entering your property, especially when you return from a festive shopping spree. Shoppers are high value targets are often followed home.
- Don’t pile up empty gift boxes where they are easily visible. Instead, tear up the boxes and hide them in bins or bags.
- Don’t leave new items in plain sight. Draw the curtains at night to keep them from seeing what’s inside and monitoring your movement.
- Mix up your daily routine to make it less predictable for criminals to know when you’ll be home.
- Notify your security company when you won’t be at home for extended periods of time. Also ask someone trustworthy to check on your home, collect your mail and switch on different lights to create the impression that somebody is home.
Eight lines of defence every home should have:
- A sturdy perimeter wall or palisade fence that offers privacy and acts as first line of defence.
- Secure and sturdy access gates and garage doors. Ideally, these should be operated remotely and opened and closed quickly to limit the window of opportunity for criminals. Ensure that gates can’t be lifted off their rails with a crowbar and that gate motors are well hidden and can’t be accessed easily.
- An electric fence offers an extra security barrier. Be sure to check for vulnerable spots where the fence can be bypassed.
- Security beams around and inside your home should be set up in such a way that different zones can be activated as needed. This serves as an early warning system, allowing you and your security company more time to react.
- An alarm system that is linked to a reputable armed response company, including a panic button.
- Burglar bars on windows and security gates on all doors. Some older homes are especially vulnerable if the weld that fixes burglar bars to the window frame isn’t sturdy.
- A clean act. Identify possible hiding places and clear them. Cut away tree branches and remove objects like garden tools that could be used as leverage for getting into the house.
- CCTV systems are becoming increasingly affordable and offer an easy way for you to keep an eye on your property. You can even monitor your home remotely via a smartphone app. This can provide valuable footage if your home is broken into.