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How to decode criminal markers: What that shoe really means

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In recent years the South African Police Service has warned of the use of markers by criminals outside homes. Typically they are used to forewarn one another of what to expect after your home has been broken into: they indicate the number of occupants, their age, the presence of dogs, an alarm, and if there is help on the inside.

The markers may not be easily identifiable as each gang or syndicate may use different methods or items. But they range from different colour plastic bags to cold drink cans, bricks and stones, and the direction of their placement is just as significant.

“The trend was first noticed in 2010 when many homes, which fell victim to burglary or robbery, either had an empty Coke can lying on the verge or a pile of stones in front of the home, among other markers,” says Stallion Security’s Reaction Division director, Dave Sleep. “The problem though is that residents don’t take note of the objects lying in front of their homes. The public, in general, is not aware of their surroundings and is extremely unobservant.”

And no, these are not just scare tactics to sell security services, say Stallion Security and ADT. What is important is for residents to be observant and remain vigilant at all times, they caution. The best form of deterrence is to remove the rubbish outside your home and paint over defaced signs. The latter is just one of their tactics itemised in the table below, compiled by Stallion Security.

Not only should vigilance pertain to objects lying in front of your home, both companies say, but also to strangers and strange vehicles loitering in your street when you arrive home. This is a message that both Stallion and ADT reiterate to their clients on a continual basis.

Criminal markershttp://hometimes.co.za/advertise-with-hometimes/                          Criminal markers continuedCriminal markers continued

cleaning the pavementTake action

  • Immediately remove and dispose of all markers.

  • Paint over painted signs.

  • Keep your pavement neat and tidy. Remove all possible markers and dispose of them in the rubbish bin.

  • Be vigilant at all times.

Your best friend is your best body guarddog and pet resize

Poisoning – If a dog dies suddenly or vomits, check for black specks in the vomit or white powder near the dog. Report all dog poisonings to the SAPS which MUST give you a case number.

Barking – if your dog is barking, do not ignore it.

Kiewiets (and geese) – These birds are excellent “watch dogs”. They sound the alarm when a human encroaches on their territory and their various calls mean different things.


Theunis Kotze, ADT general manager Inland Region, provides residents with further hints and tips

  • Remove any and all rubbish outside your home. Cut back on any bushes or trees that may offer easy access over walls or gates to your property, or provide places for criminals to hide.

  • Criminals are less likely to target homes or complexes which have prominent and well defined access control procedures.

  • Report any suspicious behaviour. Be alert and remain vigilant.

  • Get involved and attend community safety meetings so you are aware of the latest criminal tactics in your area.




Alison Goldberg is the former property editor of Business Day (1985) and the Financial Mail (1991-99). In 1995 she won the Sanlam Financial Journalist of the Year Award. She has edited such titles as National Constructor and The Miner in Australia and has freelanced for The Star, The South African Jewish Report and The Jerusalem Post.

Review overview
  • Ted le Roux 5th April 2016

    These markers are valid and are used on a regular basis. Suburbs are “patrolled” routinely by 2 to 5 “people” – being ethnically and racially correct – and can be identified by their shoes, normally very clean running style and at least one of the group wears a small hat. Lookouts also sit around on street corners or pavements where there is clear visibility of intersections, etc.

    • David A Steynberg 5th April 2016

      Thank you Ted,
      Are you in the security business?

  • Fanisiwe 14th May 2016

    Basically any rubbish left anywhere is going to be read as meaningful with this list. Why would people who going to rob a house not just use their phones and send an sms with the house number?!

    Really the article and this style only exposes how living in secured suburbs make people lose grip on reality and think the whole world, including empty packets of chips, is conspiring against them: a blue thing, raw terror, mageu carton, panic attacks, a person wearing a small hat, heart attack 😐