GEORGE NEWS - A woman from Thembalethu was raped, on Saturday 6 July, after a burglar broke into her house in Zone 6. The incident took place in the dead of night while she was asleep.
According to the police the victim woke up to find an unknown man standing in her bedroom.
"He gained access through the burglar bars in her son's bedroom. The accused asked for her cellphone and tablet while holding a knife against her throat. The suspect then raped the victim and left the same way he entered the premises,” said Lt.Col A Delport of the Thembalethu Police .
This is one of many incidents across the country, where people are victimised in their own homes by criminals. This instils fear into families, house-sitters and those who live alone.
Crime Stats SA, a website which tracks reported crimes across the nation, hosts a running survey of crime experienced by its users. According to the survey, 34% of participating people or someone they are close to have been victims of a crime in the last six months. Of these responses, 46% reported the crime experienced as burglary / robbery. The crime closest to this, at 27%, was theft. The threat of a stranger breaking into one's home is very real, but that does not mean homeowners are without hope.
How to prevent burglary
There are a number of ways to increase the security of your home to deter burglars. This does not necessarily mean spending thousands on alarm systems and surveillance cameras. There are ways to beef up your security on a budget too. At the end of the day burglars are people too, and people tend to make low-risk decisions, even when breaking the law. Although there is a plethora of expensive options for homeowners to protect their home, here are a few that anyone can implement:
Get to know your neighbours
People can become stronger through cooperation and a close-knit community can watch out for one another. A neighbour who is at home during weekdays can report suspicious people or behaviour around their area. If you leave home for an extended period, you can leave a spare key with a neighbour, or a friend you trust completely. Having access to your home, this person can create the illusion that the home is still occupied, making your home less of an easy target. Looking out for one another can make a huge difference.
Think about hiding spots on your property
Blind spots, bushes and other shrubbery can act as a hiding place for burglars in the dead of night. Trim your shrubbery or remove it completely. It may make for an attractive garden, but also offers opportunities to intruders. Installing lights outside your home creates better visibility for you and less opportunity for intruders to hide.
Get a dog
Dogs are a classic form of security, due to their loyal and loving nature. They are also protective. Many dogs will set about barking when strangers approach their homes. The noisier your dog, the less attractive your home is to a potential burglar. On the downside though, a constantly barking dog might make you less popular in the neighbourhood.
Reinforce windows and doors
Besides keeping doors and windows locked at all time, you might consider adding an extra layer of security. Barricading the doors is a safe bet, by making sure door hinges are secure and even setting planks across the back of the door. There is also the option of an auxiliary foot lock, a bolt with slides into the ground, or a socket. A pin-lock can be drilled into a wooden window pane, allowing for a pin to be slid into the hole to block the window from opening. These DIY home improvements are affordable and require just a little of your time.
Be careful of what you post on social media
Due to the public nature of social media, anyone can easily search for a target area and travel pictures that use hashtags. A smart burglar could search any number of keywords about travel plans to find their opportunity. Social media needs to be used responsibly. Keep your address and frequent areas of visit private. Don't give a burglar your home on a plate.
With these simple and affordable tips, you are well on your way to protect your home and family without putting a serious dent in your wallet. No one should be unable keep their home, family and belongings safe.
- Jonah Ehlers is a third-year student at Rhodes University's School of Journalism & Media Studies who is job shadowing at the George Herald this week.
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