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By Liam Ngobeni

Freelance journalist

80% of house robberies result from informants

Robbers who scout carefully are put off by regular patrols and strong neighbourhood watches.

A recent uptick in residential robberies in the east of Pretoria has prompted a private security company to warn the public to properly vet staff before hiring them.

“A 2016 Unisa study has shown that eight out of 10 residential robberies are committed using information from domestic workers, gardeners and former employees,” Fidelity ADT spokesperson Charnel Hattingh told the Pretoria East Rekord.

“This is particularly worrying as residents usually view their domestic staff as a home’s first line of defence because they play a critical role in security,” she said.

“Homeowners need to be aware of the importance of vetting all staff very carefully.”

“We recommend using a specialist placement consultancy to do the necessary background checks.”

She said although the study by Unisa’s school of criminal justice was almost three years old, it was still relevant.

Hattingh highlighted the below findings by the study:

– Robbers will monitor a home for as long as two weeks.
– Most attacks happen between 19:00 and midnight when people are relaxed, sleeping, cooking or watching TV and security systems and beams are not activated. Robberies can be as late as 04:00.
– 97% of robbers are armed.
– On average, an armed robbery gang has four members.
– The average age of a house robber is 19 to 26 years of age.
– An average of 30% of all house robbers have either committed murder or won’t hesitate to commit murder.
– Of all arrested robbers, 90% had no matric qualification or were unemployed.

“In our experience security measures such as electric fences, detection beams and CCTV are still key crime deterrents, as are pets.”

She said small dogs that sleep inside the house can be seen as a deterrent.

“How secure your neighbourhood is, is also important.”

Robbers who scout carefully are put off by regular patrols and strong neighbourhood watches.

“It is equally important that domestic staff always keep security gates locked – they may not hear an intruder over the noise of the vacuum or know that someone has entered the house while they are in the backyard.”

“The alarm system must always be armed when they leave the house; even if it is only for a few minutes.

“The bottom line is you must always be vigilant. Act as if you are being watched and take all necessary precautions.”

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