As winter casts its long shadows, and with frequent power outages slated to rise, South Africans are in the unique quandary of battling both the bitter cold and the risk of crime. However, fear not, for we have some advice straight from the horse’s mouth: Colonel Robert Netshiunda, a provincial SAPS spokesperson in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Cold, Dark Reality of Winter Crime
Netshiunda drives home the point that crimes, especially those conducted under the veil of darkness, tend to increase during winter. And, much to our collective dismay, load shedding, which plunges neighborhoods into darkness, provides an ideal scenario for criminals to enact their nefarious plans.
Drawing from crime statistics, Netshiunda reveals that grave offenses like murder, rape, housebreaking, and business robberies are mostly committed between 6pm and midnight. Additionally, parked vehicles and power cables are prime targets for thieves during these power outages.
But before you succumb to the creeping dread, let’s focus on what we can do about it.
Steps to Secure Your Home, Property, and Vehicle
Netshiunda encourages residents to adopt a proactive stance when it comes to ensuring their safety. His tips include:
- Keep windows, gates, and doors shut and locked.
- Form street forums and committees to isolate criminals and prioritize the reporting of unusual activities and suspicious individuals.
- Be aware that criminals often survey their targets during the day before striking under the cover of darkness.
Moreover, solar panels are becoming attractive targets for thieves, a new trend that emerged earlier this year, as highlighted by Charnel Hattingh, group head of marketing and communications at Fidelity ADT.
Making Your Home a Fort
Hattingh recommends a few additional security measures:
- Keep your garden well lit.
- Install barrier security features like electric fences, beams, sensor lights, burglar bars, and interior detection.
- Store tools and garden equipment securely, to prevent them from becoming tools for criminals.
- Don’t leave wheelie bins out overnight – they can be used as makeshift ladders or even transportation for stolen goods.
- Trim excessive shrubbery which could provide hiding places for criminals.
- Keep your alarm armed and make use of its various modes (stay, sleep, away).
- Display visible armed response signage as a deterrent.
- Install high-quality CCTV cameras to aid in police investigations and deter opportunistic criminals.
Reporting all incidents to the police promptly, Hattingh emphasizes, is crucial, as crime statistics help in formulating strategies and allocating resources to manage crime.
Winter Workouts: Safety While Exercising
Netshiunda’s advice extends to those exercising or training during the colder months. He strongly recommends group exercise to mitigate the risk of attacks and advises joggers to leave valuable possessions at home.
Here are a few additional safety tips to bear in mind while working out in the great outdoors, courtesy of www.comrades.com:
- Maintain situational awareness: Keep your headphone volume low to stay aware of your surroundings.
- Vary your workout times: Unpredictability can deter potential criminals.
- Carry a whistle: This can help raise the alarm quickly if you feel unsafe.
- Stick to the safety of numbers: Exercise in a group.
- Run during the day: Darkness can obscure potential threats, and there are fewer people around to potentially assist if required.
- Keep your valuables at home: Visible valuables attract criminals.
- Wear visible clothing: This helps motorists and other pedestrians spot you easily. You could also consider using a head torch or chest torch to light your way.
- Run facing oncoming traffic: This allows more time for motorists to spot you and for you to make necessary decisions.
Winter, with its early darkness and power outages, does indeed pose significant challenges. However, with these strategies in hand, you can take proactive measures to safeguard yourself, your property, and your community. The fight against crime, like the struggle against the biting cold, is a shared responsibility. So, let’s arm ourselves with information, stay vigilant, and make safety a priority this winter.