Domestic employees have become easy prey for house robbers who deliberately target them in their employers’ homes during the working day.
Security experts from Excellerate Security are therefore urging residents who employ domestic workers or child-care nannies – or even have people in their homes during the working day, such as elderly relatives, to ensure better security routines are in place on their properties, both to protect those at home and keep their homes safe.
They are also encouraged to educate them on the different methods criminals use to gain entry.
Excellerate Security Managing Director Derek Lategan says many syndicates prefer to target homes when people are home, as opposed to breaking into them. This is because doors are usually unlocked and alarms deactivated. Robbing homes also gives criminals more time to scout out houses, choose what they want to steal, and gain access to safes as there is no risk of private security or police arriving.
“They also prefer having people at home who can point out the locations of other valuables.”
What makes access to homes even easier is that domestic employees are not always security conscious, and have habits of leaving doors unlocked, and even open.
Often domestic workers are working both inside and outside, Lategan explains, carrying out tasks like hanging washing or cleaning windows. Or, in the case of nannies, they are inside and outside with the children as they play. As such, they leave doors open while they go about their daily work, making entry very easy for criminals.
Another long-employed tactic of criminals is to lure domestic employees to gates, and convince or force them to open up.
“They do this by posing as municipal workers, delivery officials or even technicians such as telephone or household appliance repairmen. Sometimes they even hold domestic workers up at knife- or gunpoint, forcing them to open security gates.”
Lategan says it is therefore crucial that residents educate their domestic employees about the current trends and modi operandi of criminals. They also need to be informed when service workers are genuinely being expected and when they should let them in.
Other advice Lategan says residents need to give domestic employees or those in their homes is to:
- Never open the gate for unexpected or uninvited people, nor to approach the gate. Rather they must communicate with them via the intercom or from the front door. Also ask them to contact you.
- Ensure they have the numbers of your security company and SAPS on their cell phones, or on a list near the landline phone
- Ensure external beams are armed when they are inside the house
- Ensure that all security gates and doors are locked
- Never leave keys in security gates but rather leave them on the inside of external doors so they can be locked quickly if the need arises
- Should someone ring the doorbell or phone on the landline, do not say that nobody is at home, rather say that they are unavailable and you will take a message.
- Should they have to go outside, look through the windows first to ensure that nobody is outside
- Ensure that they know the location of all home panic buttons and that to press them they need to hold them in for a few seconds