Urban crime is a problem in South African cities - Tips for protection

11 September 2017Dawie Loots, MUA
Dawie Loots, CEO at MUA Insurance Acceptances.

Dawie Loots, CEO at MUA Insurance Acceptances.

The nine largest urban areas are home to approximately 40% of the country’s residents, but these areas account for 77% of carjacking’s, 74% of vehicle thefts, 64% of aggravated robberies, 58% of residential robberies and 47% of murders in the whole country, according to the 2015/206 State of Urban Safety report released by the Urban Safety Reference Group (USRG). As a result, it is imperative that South Africans educate themselves about ways to prevent and protect themselves and their belongings.

This is according to Dawie Loots, CEO of MUA Insurance Acceptances, who says that these alarming statistics reveal that home security and protection of motor vehicles remain huge challenges for urban residents. “Given the high rate of crime, it is essential that South Africans implement preventative measures in an effort to reduce the likelihood of their home being invaded or their vehicle’s being stolen or hijacked.”

These precautionary actions not only ensure the physical safety of residents and their loved ones, but can assist to avoid financial losses, he says.

Protecting the home

Security measures such as alarm systems, security gates, burglar bars, electric fencing and CCTV cameras all play a role in reducing the likelihood of a home robbery or burglary, says Loots. “Basically the aim is to make the home more challenging for criminals to enter, thereby ensuring these elements act as deterrents. The more security features that are used the better.”

Loots says there is an insurance advantage to as having these elements as it can result in reduced monthly home insurance premiums. “Insurance companies calculate the premium someone should pay based on the level of risk that the client presents, so the more one can do to minimise the likelihood of someone breaking into your home the better your risk profile will be.”

In the unfortunate event where a home is broken into and possessions are stolen, one of the biggest problems many people face is failing to insure their home contents for the correct replacement value. “Many consumers simply renew their home contents cover every year without taking the necessary steps to evaluate the value of their possessions and update their level of cover accordingly. If you purchase new items for your home or yourself, the replacement value of your home contents will naturally increase. When it comes time to claim, they will find that they are underinsured for their home contents, which means the insurance policy may not pay out for the total loss suffered as the amount was not updated in the policy.”

Protecting vehicles

New preventative measures such as vehicle tracking through telematics or Microdot technology are increasingly becoming a necessity, rather than a luxury, says Loots. “These technological advancements should be considered because car thieves have become increasingly smarter and faster in the methods they use to steal and hijack cars. In recent media interviews with car thieves, who chose to remain anonymous, they advised that it takes between one to five minutes to steal a car; and if they cannot steal it, they will hijack it.”

With motor theft becoming easier by the day, some insurance providers have begun to offer incentives to customers that incorporate preventative measures that lessen the chance of vehicle theft and hijacking, he says. “In fact, Microdot technology has become a statutory requirement for all new vehicles registered in South Africa as of 1 September 2012 in an effort to combat the stolen vehicle parts trade. If a car has tracking technology it is also easier to recover, reducing the financial repercussions for the consumer and insurance industry.

“It is also a good idea to be aware of the typical locations for motor vehicle theft or hijacking in order to be on high alert when parking at these locations. Currently, shopping malls are the most popular venue for thieves to steal or hijack vehicles, however events that draw large crowds, such as school sports days or music concerts, have also become venues of choice,” he adds.

“Overall, the basic rule is to always be aware of your surroundings and look out for suspicious people sitting in cars or standing nearby observing your home or motor vehicle. If anything looks or feels wrong, it is better to leave or seek help immediately,” concludes Loots.

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