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18 December 2011

SAWDIS Holiday Alert 2011/2012

Cops, lifesavers patrol Western Cape beaches

As thousands of people flock to the beach this summer, Western Cape lifeguards are being kept busy over the festive season.

Some 4,000 volunteers are patrolling the beaches during the summer peak season.

According to the Western Province Lifesaving Club, lifeguards have responded to several near drowning incidents across the province.

The club's Keith Matthews said law enforcement officials have helped curb unruly behaviour.

“Law enforcement is doing an excellent job by curbing alcohol on the beaches and doing the necessary vehicle checks.”


Make your home safe while on holiday

Flights are booked, swimsuits and sun block packed and beach umbrellas stowed in campervans – but is your home safe?

Property crime is one of the biggest scourges in South Africa, with police recording over 240 000 home break-ins in 2010/11. This amounts to an average of 678 cases a day, and 28 incidents an hour throughout the country.

Security experts say many holidaymakers commit a number of fundamental mistakes when going away, which could make their homes targets for vigilant criminals. Three experts who spoke to The Sunday Independent listed among the tell tale signs that nobody is home:

- Leaving your outside lights on all the time.

- Not cancelling subscriptions/ deliveries.

-Not having your garden maintained.

“Criminals are not the idiots some people think they are,” says Thorburn Security managing director Koos van Rooyen.

“When criminals go past your house and they see lights on outside in the middle of the day, it tells them the owners are away. Don’t leave the lights on, rather ask a friend to turn them on in the afternoon and turn them off the next morning.

“We call it having a deflection programme. The idea is to deflect someone canvassing the neighbourhood from targeting your house,” he said, adding that newspaper subscriptions should be cancelled.

Stallion Security MD Brad Soekoe agreed.

“Arrange to have your mail cleared by your neighbour and cancel any other regular deliveries such as newspapers, bread or milk, well in advance,” he says.

Gardens should be maintained, trees should be trimmed to ensure the house looks lived in and to ensure criminals to not have easy access to the property.

An inspection of your fence and test of your home security system can mean the difference between a nightmarish Christmas and the holiday of your dreams.

ADT MD Roy Rawlins also suggests testing whether panic buttons are working correctly and that alarms are properly activated.

“It is vital to ensure the alarm is armed when leaving the premises,” he says.

All three security experts recommend informing your alarm company that you will be absent over the holiday period, as well as neighbourhood watch groups and trusted neighbours who can keep an eye on your house.

“If your alarm goes off it will flag on their system. They are going to get the police there fast. Also if people tell us they are not around we will patrol around that house. Most companies will work hard to protect your house when you’re way because a break-in, is not good for business,” Van Rooyen says.

Meanwhile Rawlins suggests packing your car discreetly, so as not to alert passersby of your impending departure.

“Let’s ensure we are not giving our belongings to criminals on a gold platter. Think like a burglar and take these preventive measures to ensure the safety of your belongings,” he said.

Meanwhile, Soekoe warns that “80% of burglaries and robberies are inside jobs”.

“Let as few people as possible know of your departure. Educate your family and staff not to talk about your premises or any valuables you may have in your house.

“Often innocent conversations are overheard by criminals, resulting in your home becoming a target,” he says.

Meanwhile figures show that just because you’ve left the hustle and bustle of Joburg for several days, it’s no reason to let your guard down.

According to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), card fraud losses in the Western Cape, a popular holiday destination, has more than doubled in a year. While the national increase was 53% – from R263.8 million for banks to R403.15m – card fraud in the Western Cape increased by 108% – from R14.54m to R30.20m.

The Western Cape, with Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, account for 92.3 percent of all credit card fraud cases in the country.

Sabric say they have seen an increasing number of cash withdrawals taking place at ATMs using counterfeit cards.