Safety precautions for holidaying homeowners

Housebreaking or burglary made up 54% of the total amount of crimes committed in South Africa over the 2017/18 period while only 10% belonged to the category of home robbery. 

As some homeowners will be making their way to holiday destinations, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, has encouraged them to make it less obvious that nobody is at home.

“While I would strongly encourage South Africans not to live in fear, I would also caution them to avoid being careless. If you are planning on being away for a few days or weeks over this period, there are a few things you will need to take care of before you leave in order to lower the risks of your home being the target of household robbery,” said Mr Goslett.

He also warned against deliveries when there’s no one home.

“For starters, unopened packages on your doorstep or a full mailbox are dead giveaways that nobody is home. If you have ordered anything online, make sure that you arrange the delivery date for when you get back from your vacation. Though many of us receive most of our mail electronically these days, some bills and unsolicited flyers still come through via post. If you know that you are going to be away for a number of weeks, you can arrange to put your mail on hold until you return. Alternatively, you could ask a neighbour to check your mailbox once a week and hold onto the contents for you until you get back,” he suggested.

Goslett advised homeowners to install timers.

“Another good idea would be to install timers on the light fixtures in the front-facing rooms in your home. There are various security companies that offer to install these for you, or you could purchase and install them yourself. In general, there are two kinds of timers: electric or mechanical. Electric timers are slightly more expensive but provide higher levels of security as they are able to be set to run in random or unpredictable patterns which will make it less obvious that the lights are set to a timer,” Mr Goslett explained.

“Lastly, unless you have rigorous privacy settings on your social media, I would caution against actively posting about your trip until you return. This includes pre-posts where you share your excitement about your pending vacation, as this is basically announcing to the world that your home will be standing vacant soon.”

Lastly, homeowners should arrange a house sitter to tend to their home while they are away. 
“Ask a friend or family member if they wouldn’t mind spending a night or two in your home while you’re away. There are also loads of professional agencies that offer these services, so you could ask around, perhaps check in with your real estate professional if you have an existing relationship with one, and find out if anyone has recently used a reliable professional house sitter they would recommend,” said Mr Goslett.