Safety Tips

GUIDE TO CRIME PREVENTION

The most important element for all readers of this guide is to change your mindset.  If you are under the impression, albeit subconsciously, that crime only affects others, then it’s time for a reality check.

Prevention is better than cure, therefore we urge property and business owners to make every effort to prepare their properties, businesses, staff and themselves against criminal action.

If there is an emergency, call 10111. The CID Public Safety Officer vehicle could be attending to another crime. It is best to call 10111 because the available police officers will attend. People also tend to call the SAPS first if someone is stabbed or shot for example. In instances like this, first call an ambulance. It could save the person’s life. You are however welcome to call the CID Public Safety Officer on 0721416403.

We have summarised the following safety tips and guidelines from various guides and articles on safety and security. We realise that not all these may be applicable to everyone, nor do we suggest that our lists are comprehensive and all-encompassing.  We do however believe that these tips make good business sense.

PREVENT PROPERTY CRIME

  • Ensure that your property can be secured properly. This includes checking all locks, gates, doors, windows and roller shutters.
  • Visible security measures, signage, security staff & alarm systems, serve as an effective deterrent
  • Ensure there are no gaps in your fence or perimeter wall or unintentional points of access to your business (home) which may need additional security
  • Make sure that all bushes or trees close to your walls, gates and fences are trimmed, to avoid the possibility of intruders hiding behind them or using them to access your property.
  • Adequate lighting around the perimeter of your business acts as a good deterrent
  • Connecting outdoor lights to timers and motion sensors act as an additional deterrent.
  • Have an alarm installed by a reputable security company with armed response.
  • The key to effective security lies in being able to detect a potential intruder before they gain access. Adding detection beams and sensors of electrical fences vastly contributes to property security
  • Ensure that your alarm is in working order. Alarms should be tested at least once a month and should the system require servicing this should be arranged as soon as possible.
  • Please ensure that all the key holder information is available and ensure that key holders are available and able to come out to the property should the alarm activate, and checking be required.
  • Don’t leave ladders, spades or tools outside as these can be excellent break-in tools.
  • Ensure that remote controls for automatic gates and garage doors are not left lying around.
  • Always be alert to vehicles or persons following you into your entrance or the parking area.
  • Observing and reporting any suspicious activity outside your business may stop a potential crime 
  • CCTV cameras to be placed strategically, with no blind spots, cover the outside of your premises

Access control

  • If people arrive to read electricity or water meters on your property, insist on seeing official identification and if possible, follow up with the relevant department before you allow them in.
  • Be aware that people may present themselves doing collections for various ‘charities’ – this is almost guaranteed to be a scam.

 BE CAREFUL WHO YOU HIRE

Businesses are suffering losses due to theft by their own employees.  Unfortunately, businesses often employ staff without any background checks, copies of IDs or proof of address which means that the business has no details to assist the SAPS in conducting their investigations and resolving a case or finding their property back.  We therefore urge businesses to please follow some basic good practices when hiring new staff, even if it is deemed casual or short-term staff: 

  • Make sure who you are hiring – insist on a proper ID and proof of residence
  • Make copies of these documents and keep securely
  • Insist on and check for previous working references
  • Do random checks on staff before they leave the premises
  • Secure unused equipment and tools to avoid items “walking out the door”
  • There are many other good HR practices and safeguards that can be researched and applied with minimal cost implications. Please don’t be a victim and take the necessary precautions.

DEALING WITH CASH IN YOUR BUSINESS

  • Alternate the days and times on which you deposit cash
  • Never make your bank visits public, even to people close to you
  • Do not openly display the money you are depositing while you are standing in the bank queue
  • Avoid carrying money bags, briefcases or openly displaying your deposit receipt book
  • It’s advisable to identify another branch nearby that you can visit to ensure that your banking pattern is not easily recognisable or detected
  • If the amount of cash you are regularly depositing is increasing as your business grows, consider using the services of a cash management company
  • Refrain from giving wages to your contract or casual labourers in full view of the public, rather make use of wage accounts that can be provided by your bank
  • Refrain from driving to the bank in your company branded vehicle on a typical “pay day”
  • Consider arranging for electronic transfers of wages to your contract workers or casual labourers personal bank accounts or using the “cash send” facility

BUSINESS AND RETAIL

  • Keep a list of emergency numbers next to the telephone
  • Place static panic buttons in strategic areas of your office
  • Keep the premises well-illuminated, both inside and out.
  • Be Observant! Employees and employers should remain alert and observant. Things to watch for:
    • Suspicious persons or vehicles around the business, especially at opening and closing time.
    • People wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather, such as heavy coats during warm weather.
  • Take special precautionary measures at the opening and closing items. Ensure that two or more staff members are present when the premises are being locked or unlocked.
  • Try to use the most visible entrance to the business and avoid back/secluded entrances when opening/closing the business.
  • Place surveillance cameras strategically
  • Implement some form of entrance and exit control. Make sure persons can be clearly identified by the cameras as the video footage assists the SAPS with their investigation
  • Inspect your CCTV cameras regularly, ensuring these are functioning optimally without any blind spots
  • Do not keep a large amount of cash inside your premises and change your pattern of banking
  • Remain alert and watchful for suspicious activity
  • Whilst driving check mirrors and monitor the car behind you.  You could be followed
  • Take precautions during the opening and closing of the facility

COMMUTERS & STAFF USING PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Here are some tips to remember, especially when walking alone at night:

  • Awareness is your first line of defence – be aware of yourself and your surroundings
  • Avoid walking alone;
  • Trust your instincts: if something feels wrong, it most probably is;
  • Avoid headphones: you need your ears to hear what is going on around you;
  • When walking alone, don’t talk on your cell phone – you will be distracted and not aware of what is going on around you. Also, keep your phone out of sight;
  • Strap your bag across your chest and hold it tight, without looking nervous. Keep the zip opening towards you. Remember, backpacks can easily be tampered without you noticing it;
  • Do not carry too many packages at once – you must always have clear visibility and freedom of motion;
  • Do not wear expensive jewellery
  • Don’t wear shoes or clothing that restricts your movements
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash and avoid drawing money when walking alone at night;
  • Stick to well-lit and busy streets. Avoid dark areas, parking lots or alleys;
  • Carry a noisy friend – a whistle! Carry it around your wrist or in your hand, it will not be of any use in your bag.

ATM SECURITY

  • Use ATMs in well-lit and safe areas.
  • Watch out for people standing very close to you and looking over your shoulder as you type in your pin
  • Don’t allow your card to be removed from your sight.
  • Don’t accept help from strangers or give out your pin, not even to persons claiming to be bank officials.
  • Never leave your card in the ATM, if stuck, follow instructions provided on the ATM machine.
  • When cancelling an ATM card if it has been stuck, please use the numbers on the wall in and around the ATM to cancel the card.
  • Make sure you are not followed AFTER a transaction – After the transaction has been completed, please remove printed slip as this will give information on the balance in the account.

AVOID HIJACKINGS

Before Leaving your location:

GET OFF YOUR PHONE while approaching your vehicle. Yes, we all say we can multitask, but can we really?

  • Take a walk around your vehicle to confirm that there is no one lurking around or in your vehicle before getting into your vehicle.
  • Ensure your number plates are both on the vehicle and no papers are stuck to the rear or front windows of your vehicle. This is a trend used by suspects to lure you into stopping while your vehicle is running to either retrieve the number plate or remove the papers.
  • Place all items out of sight in the boot of your vehicle.
  • Ensure your windows and doors are closed and locked before leaving.
  • Plan your route before departure.

While Driving:

REMAIN OFF YOUR PHONE UNLESS THERE IS AN EMERGENCY. Not only are you at risk of being involved in an accident while driving and being on your phone, you are also placing your fellow drivers at risk. Not to mention it is illegal. Put your phone on silent or out of reach while driving.

  • Be vigilant always and report any suspicious behaviour to the SAPS and your Local Security Service Provider.
  • Leave enough manoeuvring space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
  • If your windscreen or tyre is damaged while driving, drive to a well-lit area before stopping to inspect the damage.
  • Do not stop for anyone that might indicate they need help in deserted or high-risk areas. Contact Law Enforcement, the SAPS or Security Company to assist.
  • Take a different route daily when leaving home or returning home. Criminals pounce on the fact that we are following the same routine and routes.
  • Though there is a misconception that only certain makes and models are being stolen or hijacked, if there is a need for a certain make or model vehicle in the vehicle crime market, any vehicle becomes a target.
  • Lower your music, eliminating distractions and be extra vigilant 1 km from your destination, ensuring that you are not being followed.
  • Park parallel to your home opening the gate prior to pulling into the driveway. Parking in your driveway while opening your gate might get you boxed in.

In the unfortunate event of a Hijacking:

  • At no given time resist the attacker or suspects.
  • Keep your hands visible always as the suspects are as nervous as you are.
  • Be submissive and listen to the suspects’ instructions
  • Do not resist once you have exited the vehicle.
  • Remain calm and try to identify any useful information about the hijackers without staring at them.
  • Create time and space as quickly as possible between yourself and the threat
  • Take note of the Language the suspects speak
  • Count the number of voices
  • Listen to the information the suspects share amongst themselves and possibly via cell phone.
  • Estimate the height of the suspects by comparing it to your own height
  • Identify any clothing, markings, specifically the shoes of the suspects. Suspects mostly change their clothes but not their shoes.

WHY CRIMINALS OUTSMART MOTORISTS IN SMASH AND GRABS

“Arrive Alive says if there is nothing to grab, there is no reason for the window to be smashed.”

“A smash-and-grab incident turns a pleasant drive into a nightmare when criminals pounce on unsuspecting drivers. Arrive Alive provided an in-depth explanation of smash-and-grabs, who are at risk and the ways to prevent being a victim.

A smash-and-grab usually plays on the element of speed and surprise. The violent smashing of the window places the motorist in a few moments of silent paralysis, just enough to get hold of the valuables and flee the scene.

“Checking your phone at a traffic light instead of your surroundings gives the criminal an advantage.”  It is extremely important to never grab your phone to check your messages when stopping at a red traffic light. Criminals target intersections at any given time. Be aware at all times. “They approach at an angle where the driver won’t really see them.  Motorists should always be on the look-out when they approach a robot.”

  • Constantly be on the lookout for suspicious-looking characters standing around
  • Always be conscious of your surroundings and remain alert when coming to an intersection or stopping your vehicle.
  • Be wary of people standing at intersections – they may be innocent but perpetrators mix with these people while waiting for an opportunity to pounce
  • Leave a gap between you and the car in front of you to give you room to escape if you are able to sped away (have enough space to manoeuvre)
  • Be especially wary whenever you see broken glass lying on the road. If the pieces of glass are still scattered across the road, chances are that a smash-and-grab occurred recently.
  • Criminals usually attack from blind-spots.
  • Use the car hooter to your advantage. If you feel you are being targeted and the culprits are headed your way while you are stuck between other vehicles. Press the hooter and draw attention.
  • Boot it or lose it. Make sure your valuables are safely locked away in your boot.
  • The criminals target people who leave their belongings on the car seat or under the seat, especially women.
  • Always lock your vehicle doors and keep the windows closed.
  • Do not open your windows for hawkers along the road or at traffic lights.
  • Avoid getting involved in discussions with street vendors or anyone handing out flyers
  • If something looks suspicious, do not talk to strangers, rather drive away
  • Limit your trips at night or let someone drive with you
  • If you are approached by a stranger while in your car, drive off if possible or sound your hooter to attract attention.
  • If strangers loiter near or at your driveway, rather drive past
  • Be aware that car hijackers may stage a minor accident in. If they loiter for a long time, report it to your nearest police station.
  • Do not leave your firearm in the motor vehicle’s glove compartment or anywhere in the vehicle when you park (this is against the law).
  • Valuable items like a laptop and camera should be put in the boot of your car.
  • Be aware of people approaching you about a flat tyre; the intention can be to steal items they see inside the car or hijack your car.
  • Do not use a cell phone while driving unless you have a hands-free kit.
  • Do not leave your handbag/briefcase or any goods visible in the car.
  • Do not leave your keys in the ignition when you’re not present or not attending to your vehicle.
  • Have your keys ready in your hand as you approach your car, especially if they are difficult to find in your handbag.
  • Remove detachable radios and the radio’s face when getting out of the car.
  • Fit your car with anti-smash and grab windows.
  • Always be vigilant of your surroundings.
  • Smash and grab criminals will target valuables that can be sold.
    What is being targeted: 
    • handbags and backpacks
    • purses / wallets
    • briefcases
    • laptops and laptop bags, tablets
    • cell phones
    • MP3 players / CD’s
    • loose change
    • keys
  • When locking your doors via remote control, make sure the doors are locked before walking away.
  • Be familiar with alternative routes.
  • Be vigilant at stop streets, robots and intersections.
  • If you are involved in a minor accident where no one was injured, and you feel your environment is unsafe, drive to the nearest police station immediately or a public area and report the accident to the police from there
  • Even though a smash-and-grab remains a traumatic experience, motorists should try to remain calm, and contact the police as soon as possible after an ordeal. Drive to your nearest police station or a populated area and contact the police. Inform them of the incident, where it happened, the time it happened, and if possible, a description of the clothing worn by the suspect
  • Avoid parking your vehicle where there are no lights or far from entrances. Park in well-lit areas at night.
  • Avoid stopping in remote places
  • If you encounter obstacles such as rocks or tyres, do not get out of your vehicle to remove them – immediately reverse and drive off in the opposite direction.
  • When driving late at night, slow down well in advance so that the light changes green by the time you reach the intersection.

DON’T BE A VICTIM OF CYBER-CRIME

Cyber-crime is a fast-growing area of crime. More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities that know no borders, either physical or virtual. These crimes can be divided into the following three broad areas:

  • Attacks against computer hardware and software, for example, botnets, malware and network intrusion.
  • Financial crimes and corruption, such as online fraud, penetration of online financial services and phishing.
  • Abuse in the form of grooming or ‘” sexploitation”, especially crimes against children.

Here are a few cyber-crime prevention tips, to help avoid becoming a victim of such crime. 

  • Use strong passwords – use different user ID/password combinations for different accounts and avoid writing them down. Make the passwords more complicated by combining letters, numbers, special characters (a minimum of 10 characters in total) and change them regularly.
  • Secure your computer –
  • Activate your firewall – Firewalls are the first line of cyber defence. They block connections to unknown or bogus sites and will keep out a number of types of viruses and hackers.
  • Use anti-virus/malware software – Prevent viruses from infecting your computer by installing and regularly updating anti-virus software.
  • Block spyware attacks – Prevent spyware from infiltrating your computer by installing and updating anti-spyware software.
  • Be social media savvy – make sure your social networking profiles, for example, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MSN, among other social networks, are set to private. Check your security settings. Be careful of what information you post online. Once it is on the internet, it is there forever!
  • Secure your mobile devices – be aware that your mobile device is vulnerable to viruses and hackers. Download applications from trusted sources.
  • Protect your data – use encryption for your most sensitive files, such as tax returns or financial records, back up all your important data regularly and store it in another location.
  • Secure your wireless network – Wi-Fi networks at home or the office are vulnerable to intrusion if they are not secured properly. Review and modify default settings. Public Wi-Fi, also known as” hotspots”, is also vulnerable. Avoid performing financial or corporate transactions on these networks.
  • Protect your e-identity – be cautious when giving out personal information, such as your name, address, phone number or financial information on the internet. Make sure that websites are secure, for example, when making online purchases, or that you have enabled privacy settings, for example, when accessing/using social networking sites.
  • Avoid being scammed – always think before you click on a link or file of unknown origin. Do not feel pressured by any emails. Check the source of the message. When in doubt, verify the source. Never reply to emails that ask you to verify your information or confirm your user ID or password.
  • Call the right person for help – do not panic if you are a victim, if you encounter illegal internet content, or if you suspect a computer crime, identity theft or a commercial scam, report this at your local police station. If you need help with maintenance or software installation on your computer, contact your service provider or a certified computer technician.