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  • Posted by: Lloyd Gitonga

The much-awaited Easter weekend represents all that the average working class citizen wishes for: a longer weekend. However, while you make plans, book hotels, plan road-trips and make travel arrangements, unscrupulous individuals are eagerly waiting for you to close your businesses, pack your bags and leave your homes unattended.

Common targets include:

1.      Residents aged 20-35:

First of all, our youth today are most likely to possess high-end technology gizmos. A typical household belonging to a youth would have an expensive television, home theatre sound system, a computer, a decoder, amongst other valuable items. On the other hand, the youth are perceived to be the least likely to invest in securing their homes. A quick spot-check would reveal few have more sophisticated security than a singular padlock.

2.      Residents who have recently moved in:

Burglars get smarter by the day. They know that you will take time before you “bed in” your new environment and develop a strict security regime. You’re probably yet to get your security provider to install your intruder alarm in your new premises. Or you moved into a new home and forgot to change the locks. Or better still, your neighbours are yet to know you hence reducing the risk of a nosy neighbour reporting any suspicious activity.

3.      Residents who live in easily-accessible houses (not in gated communities):

A gated community is likely to have an organized and focused approach geared towards protecting the estate, not just one home. Furthermore, the escape routes for a burglar within a gated community are limited, increasing perceived risk of getting caught. Burglars prefer houses that are easily accessible, perhaps next to a road or shopping centre that is buzzing with activity, where it will be easier to escape after a raid.

4.      If a neighbour has been robbed recently:

If one of your neighbours has been robbed recently, invest in securing your own home today. Subscribe to a security alerts service to easily monitor prevalent crime trends in your locality. One of your neighbours getting robbed points towards a gang operating in the area.

5.      Residents whose houses look unoccupied:

Contrary to popular belief, burglars would rather avoid confrontation as much as you would. The longer a burglar takes inside a house, the higher the chances of his/her getting caught. When you pack up and travel upcountry for Easter, burglars come scouting for potential soft targets. An unoccupied home presents a perfect opportunity for a thief to score.

Here is how you can secure your home before embarking on your Easter plans:

  • Make your home look occupied:

This is probably the most critical point of all. Nothing attracts a burglar to your home more than the notion that no one is home. The best solution here is to actually get someone to occupy your house, house-sit if you will, for a couple of days. If this will not be possible, get a trusted neighbour to make your house look “lived in.” Ask them to switch your lights on in the evening and switch them off in the morning. Ask them to move your car around a bit, or if you will be leaving with your car, to park theirs in your driveway for a couple of days. Leave them a spare key to the house, a contact they can reach you on and the PIN code to your alarm system. They could even hang their washing on your clothes lines over the weekend just to complete the picture.

  • Don’t broadcast your plans on Social Media:

We live in an era where we ‘Instagram’ images of our food before digging in, so the temptation to talk about your vacation plans on Social Media is understandably high. You should however be wary, you never know who is watching. Posting your itinerary on Facebook just lets a potential burglar know when to come over to your place, and how long they have before you return.

  • Check your perimeter before you go:

Create a security checklist as you plan your vacation. Ensure your perimeter fence is secure, or facilitate any repairs necessary. Lock away any tools that could potentially be used to break into your house, or that could be used to access higher floors such as ladders or tables. Schedule a service for your alarm with your security provider, and be sure to arm it before you leave. Also check whether you have left any electric appliances plugged in; this is crucial so as to reduce the risk of fire starting due to electric fault as well as reducing damage to appliances caused by power surges. Lastly, be sure to keep your valuables out of sight. That way, burglars “window-shopping” will probably skip your house and raid your neighbour’s instead.

  • Ensure there is proper lighting around your home:

Lighting is vital. Your neighbours should be able to see what is happening around your compound, to make it easier for them to report any suspicious activity. Burglars also prefer to operate in the dark because it reduces their chances of getting caught. Also ensure that your house/building’s name and gate number are easily visible from a distance because this makes it easier for emergency response teams to find your premises in case of anything.

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