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How to establish good home security habits

By S. Van Rooyen · Oct 19, 2021
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We too often have to respond to incidents where someone might have installed a brand-new and top-of-the-range home security system, but suffered a theft or break-in because they left one of the house’s windows standing open or forgot to close the garage door. This is essentially the issue we face – the presence of sophisticated technology does not mean we can forget our own personal responsibility. 

These are some safety habits that we recommend, and that anyone can implement at little or no cost:

Lock all doors and windows. This applies to your house, your car and any outbuildings on your property. This applies whether you are at home or not.

If you are away, make it look like someone is home. Use automated lighting, either with timers or using your home security system. Keep a car in the driveway. Have a neighbor pick up packages. Close curtains on the ground level so no one can see in your windows.

Keep valuable items out of sight. Never leave keys, wallets, cellphones or any other small items on a table or anywhere close to a window.

Make sure your loved ones know the exact steps to take and who to call in an emergency situation. Keep up-to-date emergency numbers in your family and staff’s phones, and post them somewhere easily accessible in your home as well - like on the fridge.

If you have an alarm, make sure everyone in your family and domestic staff has a panic button, or knows where the fixed panic buttons are.

Educate your staff on personal and home security. They are your first line of defense when you’re not home and their safety is just as important. 

If your security company offers an app, upload it and make sure everyone knows how to use it join local WhatsApp groups to keep update on the movement in your area. 

Get to know your neighbors, have each other’s contact details and look out for one another. Report anything amiss.


Protect your property

We recommend a layered approach to ensuring that your home is safe and secure. This involves working from the outside in to evaluate what measures you need to put in place to protect your home – even if you only have a limited budget.

Your perimeter:
Make sure that there is nothing that could help a burglar easily get into the property, for example a bin or pile of rubble that they could climb onto and over the wall. Also, trim back any low-hanging tree branches that could be used to gain entry. If you have an electric fence, keep it clear of foliage and make sure it’s always working and switched on.

Check the hinges and locks of any gates or external doors to make sure they are not old and rusted and could easily be broken or forced to gain entry.

Your garden:
We advise looking out for anything that could be used as a weapon or to gain entry to your home. This includes garden equipment like spades, or sporting equipment kept in an unsecured shed or container. Keep these locked away. 

Your house:
We advise again looking at the quality of hinges and locks, including on windows, and to pay attention to the condition of burglar bars. Install deadbolts for outside-facing and garage doors.

Seek expert advice

While all of these measures, taken together, will go a long way to securing your home, it’s a good idea to seek specialist advice, especially on the more technical aspects of home security. 

Stay safe

It’s never pleasant to think about the worst that could happen, but it’s worth looking at your property with a critical eye and imagining what could be useful to a thief trying to gain entry. Take every practical step you can to keep your family and your belongings safe right away.


Professor Rudolph Zinn, a senior lecturer in forensic and crime investigation at UNISA, spoke to convicted burglars to find out what kept them from breaking and entering. 


Small yappy dogs inside the house

Razor wire or electric fencing around the entire perimeter

Pre-warning alarms such as sensors in the garden and outside walls

Armed response service

Security lights outside, especially in front of bedrooms

CCTV systems and intercom system

Door alarms that are activated even when at home

Curtains that are drawn at night so that movement cannot be seen. 

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