The best defence against house robberies in South Africa

The best way to prevent a house robbery in South Africa includes keeping small dogs inside your house, electric fences, alarms and security sensors, and employing an armed response service.

This is according to research by professor Rudolph Zinn from UNISA’s School of Criminal Justice and Police Practice.

Zinn conducted in-depth interviews with 30 perpetrators who were convicted and incarcerated for aggravated robbery.

What Zinn found was that most house robbers were males in their early twenties, and that they would typically work in groups of four.

On average, each perpetrator admitted to having committed 103 crimes, and their main motivation was economic gain.

How criminals select their targets

According to Zinn, criminals select their targets because of wealth. Other demographical factors such as race played no part in the decisions of the perpetrators.

The majority of criminals said they chose targets where they had some sort of inside information, which often involved talking to domestic workers, gardeners, or security guards.

Robbers prefer neighbourhoods that have many entrance and exit points, with easy access to main roads and where street security was low or non-existent.

However, low security was not the biggest factor when selecting a target. Instead, criminals first looked for households with valuable items to steal.

Investigator Brigadier Piet Byleveld said keeping a safe can be particularly alluring to criminals, because they see it as containing high-value items.

How criminals select a target

Executing a robbery

All perpetrators said they would spend some time prior to the attack doing surveillance on the targeted residence.

Byleveld said criminals are aware of the police and security company’s response time, and function within these limits.

How to protect yourself against house robberies

The best way to protect your house, said Byleveld, is to install CCTV and to keep small dogs as an early alert system.

Byleveld said that to safeguard your home, living in an area with proper access control is valuable.

He also advised screening all your workers, including domestic workers and gardeners, to see if they have criminal records and why they left their previous jobs.

Zinn’s research concurs with Byleveld’s advice, and includes additional security measures like an electric fence, alarm system, security lights, strong doors, and security gates.

However, Zinn warned that no single security system is sufficient to deter criminals from targeting a house.

Instead, Zinn said multiple layers of security are needed to protect your house against robbers.

The graphic below provides an overview of Zinn’s advice for protecting your home against robberies.

How to prevent or minimise the risk of residential robberies

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The best defence against house robberies in South Africa