Home Press Release Beware the stranger at your gate

Beware the stranger at your gate

by Tania Griffin
A gate half way opened with a shadow of the gate

There are very few opportunities that will escape a criminal mind. Impersonators are particularly good at jumping on the bandwagon when government or council initiatives are taking place, like the national census or meter box replacement drives.

This is according to Fidelity ADT’s group head of Marketing and Communications, Charnel Hattingh. She says warning the public against the scourge of impersonators is even more important this year because of the upcoming election. “While we are continually warning residents to be vigilant when a stranger wants access, this message must be reinforced as we move closer to the election. Criminals will be upping their game as they pounce on this chance to gain a quick pay day.”

She elaborates that social media has a lot to do with the schemes criminals will execute in particular areas, as they too monitor suburb WhatsApp groups, or are fed information by employees on the property.

“Criminals are well aware of how a lack of service delivery leaves citizens frustrated and vulnerable to accepting help because they are simply fed up with the current situation. Should, for example, your suburb have a prolonged water outage, you may find a ‘council worker’ at your gate offering to assist but needing access to your property to do so.

“The election is all about service delivery, and let’s face it: who wouldn’t want a ‘Good Samaritan’ to appear out of nowhere and fix the power outage or address the water or sewage leak?”

You may be questioning why anyone would open their gate for a stranger. Hattingh says it happens all too often because impersonators ensure they look the part.

“Be assured a stranger pitching up at your gate posing as a council worker has done this many times before – and been successful. This is because they’ll carry an ID badge, be dressed in some sort of uniform, and be holding a clipboard and sometimes even a biometrics machine. They know how to talk the talk – and with the official-looking garb they present, it is easy to be fooled into opening the gate.”

One way residents can protect themselves against such imposters is to keep an eye on updates from their local security provider about crime trends in their neighbourhood.

Local councils do sometimes use the media to alert residents before they start suburb door-to-door projects, such as the census, but even so, Hattingh says, it is imperative that homeowners confirm the legitimacy of anyone claiming to be there for that purpose.

“Criminals love to piggy-back on these types of drives, so be alert at all times. While voter registration weekends are over now, crafty criminals will be out and about exploiting the election as a means to gain access.”

Heed these tips to avoid falling victim to impersonators:

  • Trust your gut – If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Alert your security company or the police to investigate, especially if the person takes off when you start probing them for more identification or a contact number for their manager.
  • Make it a rule that nobody on the property opens the gate to a stranger, no matter who they say they are. This is a very important message to relay to domestic staff.
  • Even if you are expecting a service provider or courier, verify their legitimacy before opening the gate.
  • Domestic staff should carry a remote panic button linked to an armed response service at all times, and know what to do and whom to contact in an emergency.
  • Report suspicious vehicles or people to your security company or the police.
  • Take note of alerts on community WhatsApp groups about crime trends in your area.

“Criminals are always cooking up new schemes. Be wary of strangers at your gate, no matter how legitimate they look. Let’s all vote to keep our family and property safe through exercising vigilance and reporting suspicious activity,” Hattingh concludes.

Image credit: Jiří Rotrekl/Pixabay

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