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Guide to Alarms and Security


Phoning your security service provider’s control room on a monthly basis to test your alarm signal,


Have your alarm serviced at least once a year. Like a car, it has parts that age and wear out. Your insurance company will also, in all likelihood, check whether you have properly maintained your alarm in the event of a burglary.


Remember – alarms age beyond useful life and should be replaced with new equipment, which has enhanced technology/features to improve your protection.

When going out, ensure all your pets are locked out and that all doors and windows are closed and locked. Then arm your alarm. Make this your routine regardless of how long you will be out.


Ensure the entrance to your property is well lit and clear of trees and shrubs so you cannot be surprised by attackers lurking behind them. Always be extra vigilant when entering or exiting your property and, if possible, have your remote panic on hand.


Ensure that you have photocopies of the identity documents of any employees, who work or live on your property. Never employ a stranger without first obtaining their work history and get references.


Always ask for proof of identity when a salesman or serviceman wants to enter your property – even if it is a Security technician.


Do not let anyone in to your home to make a phone call if they claim to have broken down. Make the call for them but under no circumstances let a stranger in.


Get to know your neighbours and start a block watch or consider implementing a foot or bicycle patrol in your area.


Do not play music or leave a TV on and then leave the doors and windows open while you go and work in another part of your house. This is the ideal opportunity for a prospective burglar to gain access to your home.


Do not leave ladders, spades or any other tools lying around your property, which burglars could use to attack someone or use to break-in to your house.


Ensure that all your outside locks are a minimum of four lever lock or double cylinder security locks.


Remember that the best deterrent against any burglar is a watchdog that is allowed to freely roam your property. They will warn you of any intruders.

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Look at your house from a burglar/intruder's mentality.

Try and break into your own home. What would be the easiest way to gain access to your premises?

Walk past your house, assessing it from the point of view of the casual passer-by.

Check if your physical security measures (i.e. burglar bars, security doors, gates, fences, dogs, alarm systems, anti-scaling devices, lighting, etc.) are adequate in the context of the area in which you live and your lifestyle.

Analyse the habits of your family as regards locking doors, assertiveness with strangers, awareness of dangers, alertness, key storage, etc.

Establish a security routine.

Train your household to be disciplined in the use of such a routine.

Advertise your security measures at the perimeters of your property with 'protected by' boards.

If exterior doors are hollow-core, replace them with solid wood, fibreglass or steel. 

Make sure exterior door hinges are on the inside rather than the outside - where an intruder can remove the pins and pull the door out of the frame. 

To secure sliding glass doors, add a bolt lock or use a "charley bar" to block the door closed. 

Invest in high-quality, name-brand deadbolt locks for all exterior doors. 

If you have a double-cylinder deadbolt that is operated by a key both inside and out, keep the key near the door so every family member can find it and exit quickly.

Install motion-detecting outdoor floodlights around your home. Remember to mount them high enough to prevent intruders from disabling them.

Keep your garage door locked at all times, preferably with a deadbolt lock. 


Physical Security Barriers.

Are all the openings in your home secured with barriers robust enough to deter a criminal? The best way of preventing a crime is to discourage the criminal from even considering breaking into your home in the first place. If a criminal has broken in once, he will more than likely try again.

Have a look at the condition of the barriers. Poorly-maintained barriers will be easy to break through.


Alarm systems.

If you have an alarm system connected to a response unit, ensure that it is with a reputable and reliable company.

Establish a household procedure for responding to an alarm alert.

Test the alarm system regularly to make sure that it is in good working order and your alarm company responds promptly.



Installing security lights in strategic places where criminals could lurk after dark eliminates hiding places. Motion detection lighting not only illuminates the intruder, but also alerts you to activity outside.


Plants and Obstructions.

Plants that block the view of entrances, or that could become a hiding place outside the driveway or behind walls, may need to be trimmed or removed.


Perimeter Walls.
While walls provide a measure of security and privacy, they have their weaknesses.

Walls could be the ideal hiding place for an ambush or a hijacking situation.

They could also provide a 'ladder' into premises. Anti-scaling devices may be necessary. It may also be necessary to block off certain corners behind walls, that could be used as hiding places.



Make sure that broken or cracked window panes are replaced quickly and that the putty in the windows is in good repair.

If a broken window has been newly replaced, be aware that wet putty is easy to dig out. You may need to take extra temporary security measures in the meantime.


Dealing with unknown persons.

Criminals use many guises to fool a household member into allowing them to gain entry into premises. Some of their favourite ploys are pretending to be telephone company employees, removal employees, electrical meter readers and beggars (they beg for food, money or employment). Being alert to these ploys can ensure that you are not caught unawares.

It is very important that all in the household be trained to deal with strangers, particularly those household members who are often alone on the premises while you are at work.

Keep household members informed about comings and goings on your premises so that they are not easily misled by a smooth story.

Make sure that your household members and employees know exactly who is allowed access to the premises and that they are very firm in refusing access to anyone else, regardless of the circumstances, unless of course, you have specifically arranged with them beforehand.

Should there be any queries, make sure that they know how to get hold of you to inform you of a potential situation or to query the validity of a caller.

It is vital that you confirm the identity of anyone who approaches you in official guise. Remember, identity cards and books can be and often are forged. It may be necessary to telephone the relevant institutions to confirm not only employment, but also their business on your premises.

Do not use the telephone number they provide. The "legitimacy" of their business would merely be confirmed by their accomplices. Look up the number in the directory or phone information, if you do not have it in your list of telephone numbers.

As a matter of course, never trust anyone. It is better to err on the side of discretion. Most legitimate callers fully understand your precautions.

When you feel it necessary to refuse entry to a caller, be firm. Do not allow them to manipulate you or play on your emotions. Allow them no space.

Should callers become abusive, it may be necessary to call the police, especially if you suspect their business is not legitimate.

Remember that by law certain people must be allowed access to your premises. One of these would be the meter reader. It may be a good idea to relocate the meter to a place where it is easily accessible, or failing that, have a specific routine for dealing with such people.

Never open the door to a stranger. Install peepholes in all exterior doors so you can identify whoever is outside. Do not rely on a door safety chain, because these can be broken easily. 

Ask for I.D. from service representatives who come to your home, and if they don't have it, check with their company to verify identity before letting them in. 

Personal Security

It is a series of details that, through implementation, enable you to protect yourself and your family. Those details include caring for the physical security of your home. However, even the best physical security system on the market has no value if it is not used correctly and conscientiously. A series of small, but useful routines ensure that your overall security is the best it can be.



'Key' disciplines are essential to preventing access to even the most conscientiously secured properties. Here are a few tips that will add to your security:


'Key' storage areas

It is important to establish a specific Key Storage Place (e.g. Key Hooks behind a cupboard kitchen) for all household keys..

Family members should be disciplined to always leave the keys in this place.

The Key Storage Place must be inaccessible to outsiders, concealed from outsiders view, but easily accessible to family members.

Copies of all household keys should be kept in a central, well concealed Key Safe or secure storage place.

It is also important that all keys are automatically replaced in their pre-determined storage places. This will prevent searching for keys when guests arrive or if an emergency arises.

Do not leave your spare keys in an obvious hiding place (Inside or outside).


Family 'Key' Disciplines

All in the household should be trained to keep all security doors locked at all times

Do not leave keys in the locks of any doors while they are open or closed.

The Maxidor Slamlock will be ineffective in an emergency if keys are left in the lock.

Never mark your key ring with your address or other personal particulars.

File off any serial or code numbers on your keys - do not make it easy for someone to obtain a copy.

When servicing your car, always remove your house keys from your key ring.

When you go out, take only the most necessary keys with you. Leave any others safely stored at home.



Your neighbours are an invaluable security resource. If possible, make an arrangement with them, for you to keep an eye on each other's homes, perhaps formally through a neighbourhood watch programme or just informally.

The assistance you could provide each other might include calling emergency services such as ambulance, police or your armed response company. Make sure that they have these numbers.

You could ask that they simply be alert for anything suspicious, particularly when either of you are away at work or on holiday. Criminals are deterred if they know that the neighbourhood is on the look out. Areas that have had a reduction in crime can usually cite some form of neighbourhood watch as a contributing factor.

When you go away, arrange with a friend or neighbour to leave your curtains in the usual open or closed positions and mow your lawn for you.

Leave a telephone number and contact address with neighbours or any other reliable person so that you can be contacted in an emergency.

Ask your neighbour to switch on all your usual lights at night if you are not going to be back before dark.

Ask them to collect your mail when you go away on holiday. A post box full of letters is an advertisement that you are away.

Get to know your neighbours. 

To a burglar, an empty trash can mean you're away. Keep some trash on hand, and consider asking a neighbour to set out trash for pick-up at your house. 


Employee screening:
Many people have been deceived by a potential employee. They have employed a gardener or domestic worker in good faith only to find themselves 'cleaned out' a few weeks later, or worse, the victim of a vicious assault.

When seeking a new employee, try asking around among those you know for any referrals they may have of persons that they know, who are looking for work.

If you are forced to hire a stranger, never hire off the street. Use an employment agency.

Be sure to check all references, remembering that these can easily be rigged by accomplices.

Familiarise yourself with the Labour Relations Act and be sure to have a proper employment contract drawn up and duly signed by both parties. Make copies of all relevant identification documents, etc.

Never leave money or valuables lying around. Even the most honest person could weaken in the face of constant temptation.


Escape route:

Before a crisis arises, it is important to have an emergency plan.

Put your plan down on paper and make sure that the whole household is familiar with it.

Assess all entry and exit points. Decide on the best way out in the event of a criminal entering your home.

For example, if an intruder breaks into the house via a front entrance, a window or opening at the back of the house could be set aside to be used as an escape route so that the family is not trapped in the house. This could entail installing movable burglar bars on a specified window or an Inscape door. In the case of a fire, this is essential. It is also good to bear in mind that a window is not an ideal escape route - broken glass is a hazard. A door is preferable.


Holiday arrangements:

When going away on holiday, try to ensure that your home is not unoccupied. If possible get a friend or relative to house-sit for you.

Do not get a stranger to do your house-sitting. If necessary, go through an agency that deals with such work.

Never allow your home to look empty. Arrange with a friend or neighbour to leave your curtains in the usual open or closed positions, and mow your lawn for you.

Leave a telephone number and contact address with neighbours or any other reliable person so that you can be contacted in an emergency.

At night, all your usual lights should be switched on.

Ask someone to collect your mail. A post box full of letters is an advertisement that you are away.

Cancel or redirect all newspaper and milk deliveries.

Inform your armed response/alarm company that you will be away.

Inform the police of your absence.

Never leave an answering machine message indicating you're not at home. Instead, just say you "can't come to the phone." 

Use timers to turn lights, televisions and sound systems on and off at different times to give your home a "lived-in look" when you're away. 

If there's a Neighbourhood Watch Program in your community, join it. 

Report any suspicious persons or vehicles to your local police. 

Leave curtains slightly parted so your house doesn't have an empty look. 

If you're planning to go away, be careful whom you tell. 

Don't let mail, newspapers or flyers accumulate while you're away, tipping off criminals. Have the post office hold mail, have newspapers suspended, and have a neighbour or friend clear away flyers. 

When vacationing, leave a car in your driveway or arrange for a neighbour to keep a car there and move it around from time to time.

Have someone mow your lawn, rake leaves and shovel snow while you're away. 

Be alert:

Do not ignore any unusual sounds or noises, barking dogs, alarms, breaking glass, etc.

Be very cautious when investigating. Remember there is a reason for these noises and you do not want to be caught in a vulnerable situation.

Call the police or your armed response company to investigate for you.

If you do not have a response facility, when going to check outside, keep your family safe by locking the door behind you. If necessary they will be able to summon help for you.

When entering or leaving your house or yard, look out for loiterers. Do not ignore such persons as they could be a danger to you and your household.

Keep necessary emergency numbers clearly posted next to the telephone. These must be easily accessible when needed.

Don't leave valuables in sight through windows, where they will tempt burglars. 

Use an etching pen to mark an ID number on valuables. 

Make an inventory of valuables in your household and store it somewhere other than your home, such as in a safe deposit box. 


Guard personal information:

Never divulge any personal information to any telephone enquirers. Bear in mind that to obtain your telephone number is relatively easy to those who know how.

Make sure that you know exactly who is calling. If the caller is unknown to you and wants to know your name, ask who it is that they are seeking. If they ask you to verify your number, enquire what the number is that they want.

Telephoning is an easy way to find out if anyone is at home, and if so, who. Therefore do not divulge the whereabouts or schedules of any household members.


Driveway hijacking:
One form of crime that is becoming increasingly popular is driveway hijacking.

Be ready for the unexpected. The hijacker can strike at any time.

Be very cautious when entering or leaving your driveway.

Have an emergency plan. What route could you use as an escape route?

Decide which is the best way to escape if there were an attempted hijacking in your driveway. Could you drive down the pavement, or over a concrete island for example?

Make sure you are not followed to or from your home. If you are followed, go to the nearest police station or a place where there are many people. Avoid quiet streets or areas.

When approaching your home, look around for any suspicious loiterers or vehicles and report them to the authorities immediately.

If there is the remotest possibility that you could be attacked, drive on. Do not enter a potentially dangerous situation. Drive to the nearest telephone and alert the police or your security company.

When leaving your premises, always try to face the road. Try not to reverse.

Keep a lookout and be prepared to drive away quickly, if you must. Be careful never to endanger your life.

If you do not already have a remote-controlled gate, you may want to consider installing one.

Avoid establishing fixed patterns. This increases the risk of victimisation by observant, potential hijackers.

If you arrive home and become suspicious that something is out of place, for example your dogs don't welcome you as they usually do, don't get out to check. Rather go immediately to the nearest police station.

Be on the alert when fetching post from your post box in the morning and in the late afternoon or evening.

Always keep car doors locked and windows closed.

Keep an eye on your neighbors' houses. Ask them to do the same for you. Report the presence of loiterers to the police.

Remember, if you become a victim of carjacking, don't resist. Your life is more valuable than the most expensive car.

Be aware that hijackers sometimes impersonate police or traffic officials. They use vehicles with flashing blue lights and some even have access to police uniforms.

"There are no hard and fast rules regarding hijacking. On occasion when people have obeyed the orders of criminals, they have been shot anyway. The same has happened to victims who have resisted. Obviously, it may be wise for an unarmed victim in particular to comply with the orders of an armed attacker. If, however, it becomes evident that the attack is going to harm you anyway, or if you are able to defend yourself adequately, then it is your right to act in self-defence and this includes the use of a firearm." (Taken from 'Combating Crime' a special supplement to 'The Star' Friday, February 28 1997, Page 3 - prepared by the South African Police Services.)

Safety tips for children

Walking to school parents should: 

Spend time walking with their children and observe how they deal with traffic. 

Choose the route to school that is the safest for their child. 

Take the same route every day and avoid short cuts.

Remind children to demonstrate proper pedestrian behaviour. 

It's extremely important for them to look left-right-left, and always walk facing traffic.

Pick the place where their child will cross the street. 

Never enter the street from between parked cars or from behind brushes or shrubs. 

Cross streets at corners. 

Use traffic signals and crosswalks whenever possible.

Provide their children with bright clothing so motorists can easily see them.

Walk routes to school, stores and friends' houses so you can make sure they're safe and point out where they can get help
in an emergency. 

Teach them how to spot dangerous places, like vacant buildings, alleys, deteriorated playgrounds and parks. 

Teach your children and teens to be conscious of criminal or suspicious behavior in your neighborhood and to tell an
adult when they see such activities.

Children should be reminded to: 

Stay out of the street and avoid horseplay while waiting for the bus.

Walk immediately onto the sidewalk and out of traffic after getting off the bus.

Finally, never cross the street behind a school bus.


Riding a bicycle to school:

Always wear a bike helmet. Head injury is the leading cause of death in bicycle crashes. Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.

Ride with traffic.

Wear bright clothes or reflective safety gear.


Riding in a passenger vehicle to school:

If the child is less than 5 years old make sure the child is properly buckled up in a weight-appropriate child safety seat in the back seat. 

If the child is under age 16, make sure they are buckled in all seating positions at all times.

all children under the age of 12 should ride in the back seat.


General Security and safety tips:

Make sure your children memorize their full names, address including city and phone number with area code. 

Using a play phone, teach children when and how to dial 1011.

Show them how to operate a pay phone. 

Explain to your children that they should never accept gifts or rides from people they don't know well. 

Teach your children to go to a store clerk, security officer or police officer if they ever get lost in a store or mall or on the

Set a good example by locking doors and windows and checking to see who it is before opening a door. 

Listen to what your children say about their fears and help them understand them and trust their instincts. 

Should you go out, always leave a phone number where you can be reached along with numbers for neighbors and
emergency services right by the phone. 

Have your children check in with you when they arrive home. 
Set rules for having friends over when you're not there and for your children going to friends' homes when no adults are

Let your children practice operating door and window locks. 

Explain how important it is not to let anyone into the house without your permission. 

Teach them to not reveal on the phone or at the door that no adults are home, but to instead say their parents are too busy
to come to the phone or door. 

Rehearse the home fire escape plan with your children. 

At school, encourage them to stick with their friends rather than walking or playing alone. 

Make sure the school has a policy of calling the parents when a child is absent from school. 

If you use day-care or after-school programs, check their credentials carefully, including certifications, staff qualifications,
policies regarding field trips and parental visits, and reputation in the community. 



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