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The letter no dad wants to write

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Last week my daughter phoned me following a spike in crime in the area, including home invasions involving some of Kate’s close friends. The phone call took me aback, but once I’d collected my thoughts I wrote this email to Kate.

Dear Kate,

Now that I’ve had time to collect my thoughts, here are my recommendations:

  1. Most serious home intrusions are pre-planned, so be alert to any suspicious activity that leads you to believe the area or your house is under reconnaissance.house robbery resize

  2. Don’t do anything or leave anything visible that may alert thieves to value in the home.
  3. One of the most vulnerable times is when you’re approaching the house (especially if you’re tired) so 10 minutes out switch to high alert mode – in Joburg I worked on a 3 colour coded system: Green when I was entirely comfortable and relaxed; orange when there was a moderate threat of danger; and red when an attack could happen. So approaching the house in your car is red. All radios off, no chatter, look out for any suspicious vehicles, including the ones behind you with its lights off. Stay in red mode until you’re inside the house. Unfortunately in the home, it’s orange.
  4. From inside the house the objective is to create layers of security like the layers on an onion. They must be designed to make your house more difficult to intrude than the neighbours’ and give you time to react when alerted. Most often the alert will be sound. So don’t have TVs blaring and be alert to any strange noise – it’ll be your first sign that something is wrong.
  5. Consider adding an electric fence with an alarm. The current won’t stop them but the alarm will alert you.
  6. Switch on all the outside lights – not on timer, or motion sensor but as it goes dark, on all night, until you switch them off. An intruder does not know if you have a firearm, so a well-lit shooting gallery is not a great place to be.flood light

  7. Clear any bushes or dark areas that could be a hiding place.
  8. Close the curtains. Most thieves will look inside first to see where everyone is.
  9. Turn the TV down.
  10. Have your phone and alarm close at hand; it’s a shlep, I know, but they need to be on you.
  11. Ensure the siren is on the outside of the house – if it’s inside it just creates panic. Also add a flashing light so security can easily identify the house.
  12. Put in the Trellidor as you’ve planned, as this creates a safe area in the bedroom section.
  13. I wouldn’t lock the kids’ bedroom doors – you need to be able to get to them.
  14. But decide on a safe room. I’d suggest it’s the boy’s. In that safe room have a phone with emergency numbers pre-loaded, a torch, and a whistle. And a very good lock/s you can get these (and I can help if you wish) from the local hardware store. The idea is to make getting in too difficult and time consuming to do.safe in room

  15. You’ll know how to handle this, but you and Rip should brief the kids to the extent you can, on what to do in the event of an invasion.
  16. But the idea is that on the first sign of trouble (as mentioned, usually audio) you all stop what you’re doing and go to the safe room. Maybe even practice, until you can get it down to less than a minute.
  17. Lock and bolt the door, stay out of possible gunfire (on the boys’ bunks would be good) and call for help. In doing that, you’ll have:
  • Activated the external alarm.
  • Called security, the police and me.
  • Blown your whistle and done whatever else you can to let the intruders know you’re difficult to get to and that help is on its way, and that you offer them no threat.

Love Dad x

Who is Steve Pearce?

Steve Pearce is the MD of the LockLatch group and has himself been a victim of crime in SA. This article first appeared on LockLatch and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.


David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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