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Safety first

"Statistics clearly show that criminal activity increases during the holiday season and it is therefore imperative for homeowners to take the right precautions and not let their guard down," says Richard McGhee, Sales and Marketing Director of ADT Security, one of South Africa's leading security companies.

The following tips should help you take the necessary preventive measures to make sure you do not fall victim to crime during the holiday season:

•Driveway gates are often the weak link to the security of a property. Even if your gate is motorised, and you have electric fencing installed, it has no value if the driveway gate can be lifted off its rail or swing gates can be forced open. Anti-theft brackets on a sliding gate, and a padlock on a swing gate will make it more difficult for criminals to get access.

•Have your alarm system serviced and tested by your security company before you leave for the holiday. It will give you peace of mind, knowing that the system is fully functional and perfectly linked. Advise your security company that you are going away, and provide them with your house sitter's number.

•If you have a smoke alarm, have this tested too, and if it is linked to your security company, make sure the link is also working.

•Unplug all your electrical appliances that can be unplugged, and make sure that you have no overloaded power points that can cause an electrical fire. Also, have your trip switch checked, to ensure that the electricity trips if there is an electrical fault.

•Inform your neighbours that you are going away so that they can keep an eye if they are not going away.

•Stop all newspaper deliveries, and ask your house sitter to remove the mail to prevent the mail from piling up - a full mailbox is a tell-tale of your absence! Also, have your house sitter open curtains in the mornings, draw them at night and switch on certain lights. Better still: put a few lights on timer switches. This will create the illusion that there are people in and out of the property all the time.

•Don't leave any keys in exterior doors, especially those with glass window panes.

•Do not leave any tools outside, as this can be used to break into your house.

•Do not leave any keys inside a vehicle at home, even if it is parked inside a locked garage.

•Make sure that all valuables are insured and the expensive things you are leaving at home are carefully locked in your safe. Lock away car keys of vehicles you leave at home in the safe too.

•Check that any flammable liquids and gasses in your storage shed or garage is properly sealed and stored away.

•If you don't have signage of your security company on the wall, have one put up. Clear signage warning criminals that the you are linked to a security company discourages criminals.




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