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Crime tips: ‘You are being watched’

At a public crime meeting in Empangeni last week, Larry Erasmus of Security Group, together with Wynand Swart of Tracker SA, provided residents with some safety tips to avoid becoming victims of burglaries as well as hijackings.

ZULULANDERS have been warned to always be vigil and careful about the information they release regarding their whereabouts – especially during the festive season.

At a public crime meeting in Empangeni last week, Larry Erasmus of Security Group, together with Wynand Swart of Tracker SA, provided residents with some safety tips to avoid becoming victims of burglaries as well as hijackings.

‘We sometimes complicate crime.

‘Crime is not that bad, we can do something about it.

‘The SAPS are here to assist us, but our safety starts at home. We are our first protocol against crime.

‘We all know that before a house is broken into the criminals work with information.

‘You are watched, they plan it, everything is info based, either from the inside or someone who is a contractor that came into your homestead – remember that most of us work, we are not at home during the day, we don’t know how many times they are watching our homes.

‘Criminals know the layout of your home, where your safe is and all your valuables are.

‘Make sure that certain areas in your homestead are safe – burglar bars are important – ensure they are done properly in areas that we know criminals target specifically – your lounge for your television, your rooms for the safe. They come into your home with tools to do the job and remove the things they want.

‘The more relationships you build with security companies, with CPF representatives and with the SAPS, the better and safer you will be.’

Erasmus also encouraged homeowners with alarm systems to ensure they are well monitored and functioning properly.

‘Please make sure that if you forget to physically arm your alarm system, get your security company to arm it for you or enable you to remotely arm it with the use of a mobile application,’ he said.

ALSO READ: Residential burglary alert in Richards Bay

Hijackings

Wynand Swart of Tracker SA provided residents with important safety tips as well as vital information pertaining to hijackings.

‘Hijackings are happening in the region a lot, although it has dropped in Empangeni.

‘We never know who is a hijacker, they could be anyone, but they are watching you all the time, much like people who break into your homes.

‘68% of hijackings occur within the perimeter of your home, opposed to taking place within the CBD for example.

‘These guys watch you and get information on how and when you approach your home.

‘Everything is planned and they target specific vehicles.

‘They are so planned that they can even find ways of accessing information regarding your vehicle itself such as the model of vehicle and what the mileage is.

Hijackings: What to do

Swart provided some insightful tips on what people should do if they are being followed or being hijacked and even general safety tips to avoid being hijacked, placing emphasis on the fact that ‘your vehicle can be replaced but your life cannot’.

• If someone is following you need to ensure that you never go home or drive straight to your house.

Rather stop in a road and put your indicator on; if that car does not pass you but rather stops before continuing to follow you, call the SAPS, your security company or even your neighbour. Your neighbours play a crucial role in your safety – know who they are and get them involved.

•If you are being followed also consider driving to the nearest petrol station where there are cameras.

Don’t necessarily go to a police station which may be closed and not well lit. Drive to a well-lit place with lots of people; the more eyes, the more attention, and the hijackers will not want to do anything because there are too many witnesses.

• When you stop at your gate put your car in reverse and be ready at any time if you are waiting for your gate to open or close.

• If there’s no one in your vehicle and you get out to open your gate manually – leave your keys in the ignition and on, so that if you get hijacked they will jump in your car and leave. However, if you have people in your car, switch off the vehicle and take the keys out the ignition so if someone comes to hijack you, you can bargain with them and ask them to let everyone out before they take your car.

• Always when stopping at an intersection make sure you can see the back tyre of the vehicle in front of you

• If you are being hijacked and you have your safety belt on tell hijackers that you are going to take your seatbelt off with your LEFT hand so it doesn’t seem that you are reaching for a gun with your right hand – never use your right arm to go across your body or make quick movements, tell them you are putting your car in neutral so it doesn’t roll and remain calm.

• When proceeding to get out your vehicle, always turn to the side and keep your hands up, protect your vitals, never turn your back to them – always move away from the vehicle, don’t stay within the vicinity. Protect yourself with your arms and shoulders when facing them from the side.

• The golden rule is to not agonise the hijacker, you need to show them that you are not a threat to them – let them take your vehicle with everything in it.

• Never switch your vehicle off, because if your immobiliser kicks in while they are trying to start the vehicle, chances are they will assault you or take you with the vehicle.

• Don’t look them in the eyes or make immediate eye contact. Look away, but concentrate on other things such as their shoes, their pants, listen to their voice and observe their body language.

• Know your local police station phone number, know all the emergency services, and if possible know them off by heart.

Tracking devices:

• If you have a tracking system in your vehicle know which device (brand) you have in your vehicle and know who to phone with regard to that specific device, know if your device is working and be sure to continuously check with your tracking company that your device is working.

• We can work much quicker to recover and track your vehicle if it is fitted with a tracking device.

• It is up to your tracking company to ensure that it doesn’t take 10 minutes to locate and remove your device, it should be well hidden and not easily accessible.

• You as an owner will never know where your tracking device is in your vehicle because hijackers would then come in to see where tracking companies could possibly be installing devices.

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