The festive season is a time of the year that many South Africans look forward to the most. Unfortunately, it is also a period that is associated with an increase in criminal activity.

Annelie Smith, Corporate Executive at Risk Benefit Solutions (RBS), says that criminals follow opportunities, and the December and January holiday period provides numerous ‘opportunities’ given consumer spending is at its highest and that premises are being left unattended while people go on holiday.

Smith provides a few considerations to ensure that holidays are filled with fun, and not with claim forms.

Crimes specific to businesses:

  • Increase in white collar crime: Business owners should remain vigilant during this time of year given the financial pressures and end-of-year spending. This pressure can tempt employees to look to illegal activities to supplement incomes.
  • Don’t keep large sums of money: Business owners should be discouraged from keeping large sums of money on their premises and should instead deposit this with financial institutions until they intend to make use of it.
  • Retailers to remain alert: The last few months has seen a spike in mall robberies and criminals are increasingly targeting retail stores, especially for white goods such as televisions, cameras, jewelry and upmarket clothing items. There has also been a rising trend of armed robberies, as opposed to overnight break-ins, as well as individuals stealing directly off shop shelves, which can amount to stock losses over a longer period. Retailers should therefore ensure they have the necessary security measures in place to avoid such crimes, as well as the correct insurance policies to provide cover adequate cover for losses associate with these crimes.

Dos and don’ts for safeguarding your property over the festive season:

  • Don’t leave anything on display: Pack valuable items away so passers-by can’t see them from the street. House robberies are also more likely to occur in the warmer months when people leave doors and windows open, and spend more time outside.
  • Make sure you’re insured correctly: Review insurance policies by contacting your broker to verify the terms of your policy to ensure it is up to date, and that you are adequately insured. For example, check that any new gifts or purchases are included in the cover.
  • Alert someone to your absence: When going on a long holiday, ensure you have contact details of at least two responsible and trustworthy people nearby that you can contact quickly in case of an emergency. Also, don’t leave your spare keys in a hiding place on the property and instead leave them with someone you trust.
  • Don’t tell the world you’re away: If you’re using Facebook or Twitter, there may be some not so friendly ‘friends’ who may view your absence as an opportunity.
  • Portray that someone is home: Ask a friend or neighbour to collect the post from the premise. Also try installing a timer for your lights and set it to give the impression that there is someone checking on the house or house sitting.
  • Block direct property access: If the garage offers direct access to the property, try park a second car in front of the garage door if possible.
  • Electrical Equipment: Unplug appliances that are not in use and check all electrical equipment to ensure there are no overloaded plug sockets as this can be a fire hazard. Due to the latest warnings from Eskom about power outages, it is critical to unplug appliances that could be damaged as a result of load shedding, i.e. DSTV, printers etc.
  • Security and Alarms: Ensure the security alarm is working properly, and that the security company has your updated details. The recent power outages can also drain alarm batteries, so it is vital that households ensure their battery is in its optimal workable conditions in order to guarantee it remains working should a power outage occur while you are away.

“While these may be obvious pointers, often we find clients go into ‘holiday mode’ and become more relaxed about possible crimes. But this is the time of year when people need to be careful at all times and not leave valuables in the open,” concludes Smith.

Article credit:–XfI