Criminals posing as repairmen, security or police officers, and municipal workers have duped many residents into letting them into their homes resulting in robberies that could have been avoided.
Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing and Communications Manager Fidelity ADT, says homeowners need to be cautious especially at this time of year.
“We see an increase in incidents in the months leading up to the festive season so it’s important that residents not only ensure their security systems are up and running but that no-one is let into the property before they have been verified as being legitimate,” she says.
She adds that these criminals are shrewd and will collect information from letters in post-boxes, and dustbins and even speak to people on the street so they can seem as legitimate as possible.
“We are urging all residents to raise this concern with their children, domestic staff and tenants so we can stop these criminals.”
Educating children and domestic staff about the dangers of opening the gate to someone you are not expecting is vital.
“If you are expecting workmen/contractors or deliveries please ensure you brief your domestic staff. Please also ensure that if you have a postbox it is cleared on a regular basis,” she says.
Small businesses operating out of residential properties are also at risk.
“Businesses often have to deal with regular deliveries so it’s important that this is controlled properly. Do not open the gate unless you are absolutely sure that the delivery is something you are expecting. Don’t be afraid to leave the delivery person waiting outside the property if you need to verify the details. It is also advisable to install a second security measure such as a security gate with an intercom at the front door. This gives you a second level of defense and possible a few minutes more to press the panic button before the criminals have entered the house,” explains Hattingh.
Panic buttons are key, she adds, saying that domestic workers or business staff should have easy access to a button if a crisis arises.
“It’s no use if panic buttons are put in a cupboard somewhere and forgotten about. They need to be easily accessible and we recommend that domestic workers have them in a pocket or hanging around their necks for quick access. Panic buttons should also be checked regularly to ensure they are in good working condition.”
In the case of verifying security officers and technicians, Hattingh says Fidelity ADT Officers carry a branded ID card with their name, PSIRA number and a photograph. They also carry a PSIRA card which has their photograph. Technicians are also identifiable and will make prior appointments before arriving.
“Get to know your neighbours. Report any suspicious individuals or vehicles you see in your neighbourhood. By working together you can ensure that these criminals are less likely to target a property in your area,” she concludes.
Residents who have queries or want to confirm the identity of Fidelity ADT armed response officers or technicians can contact the Fidelity ADT offices on 086 12 12 301 (for coastal regions) or 086 12 12 401 (for inland regions).