A person wearing a balaclava and gloves peeping through the slit of a door

Top tips to prevent a home invasion

A home invasion is a scary situation and one we all want to prevent. So, what’s the most effective way to not become a statistic?

Charnel Hattingh, group head of marketing & communications for Fidelity Services Group, says: “A home invasion has to be one of the most frightening situations anyone can experience. It can be even worse if you have other family members with you to worry about.”

She says like anything in life, the best defence is to be prepared, and the goal for any planning measures is to deter potential intruders and minimise risks to yourself and your family. Preparation and vigilance are key to staying safe in your home.

Hattingh offers these top safety tips:

  • Secure doors and windows – Ensure all entry points to your home, including doors, windows and garage doors, are securely locked. Consider upgrading to high-quality locks and reinforce weak points with additional security measures such as door and window bars or sensors.
  • Educate the whole family – Be sure the household, including domestic staff, knows when and how to use the alarm system and panic buttons if these are installed. They should also know whom to call in an emergency; make a list of contact numbers and post them on or near a phone. If you have not been informed of the arrival of delivery people or service providers, do not open the door, even if they insist they have an appointment.
  • Make sure your security system is working for you – Make sure the alarm system is armed overnight or when anyone is home alone. If possible, lock interleading doors to rooms that are not used overnight.
  • Use outdoor lighting – Keep the exterior of your home well-lit, especially around entry points and dark corners. Motion-activated lights can startle potential intruders and alert you to their presence.
  • Keep communication devices handy – Keep a cellphone at the bedside in case of an emergency. Keep your panic button with you at all times
  • Test, test and re-test – This includes testing your alarm and panic buttons at least once a month. It also includes walls, gates and any entry points on your property and house.
  • Get to know your neighbours – Neighbours are often the ones to notice something amiss in your neighbourhood and on your property. Join your local neighbourhood watch. There is a significant reduction in incidents of break-ins and home invasions where community groups are active.

In the unfortunate event that a criminal can force their way into your home, Hattingh’s advice is to stay as calm as possible and try to evaluate the situation. “Unless you feel you are facing an imminent life-and-death situation, don’t fight back. As hard as it may be, accept your situation and give your assailants time to take any material possessions they want. Speak only if spoken to and then try to keep your answers short and to the point. Be conscious not to stare at the assailants, but try to get a good look at them and memorise their physical details and clothing. Listen for any names or other details that may help identify them later.”

Generally speaking, she says the first few minutes of a home invasion are the most dangerous. “Try to remain calm and quiet. If you are not threatening, the assailants can concentrate on their goals and leave.”

She strongly advises that residents speak to their families and staff about possible scenarios so they can be aware of what to do should they ever find themselves confronted with a home invasion.

“Also remember that a monitored home alarm system acts as a deterrent to most criminals and can help prevent a home invasion altogether. Casual guarding is also another option if you are having an event. Although no one wants to have to think about security when they are having fun, the reality exists that criminals are aware that functions and parties generally mean easy pickings and easy targets.

“Adding a casual guard with a panic button, linked to an armed response company, when you’re planning your next event is definitely a good option. Sometimes the mere presence of a security officer is enough to deter would-be criminals,” Hattingh concludes.

Image credit: jcomp/Freepik

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