30 March 2020

South Africa in shutdown: Crime continues to plague communities

At midnight, on Thursday the 26th of March, South Africa began a nationwide 21-day lockdown. Entering a territory unknown, we could all only guess at the impact this would have on South Africa’s crime rate and as the days have progressed our questions have been answered. What types of crimes will criminals resort to, what new techniques will they contrive, and what can we do to stay safe in these uncertain times?

What types of crimes are being committed?

As residents, we all have a responsibility to take all necessary precautions in ensuring our behaviour does not hinder the government’s efforts to flatten the curve. So, before we look into WHAT crimes are being committed, it’s important to look at WHO is considered a criminal. The definition of criminal activities has been expanded and includes a new list of punishable offences as follows:

1. Hiding the fact that you or anyone else is infected with COVID19 – punishable by a fine or imprisonment.
2. Intentionally spreading fake news about COVID19, individuals infected with the virus, or any fake news regarding the government’s efforts to address the situation.
3. Any person intentionally exposing others to COVID19 can be charged with assault, attempted murder, or murder.

Durban has been eerily quiet as reports of serious crimes have decreased following the COVID19 alert, but this doesn’t mean that it’s time to relax and residents are urged not to become complacent whilst they isolate at home. We are only days into lockdown and this is only the calm before the storm. Reports of petty crime have continued to stream in, however, organised criminals are known to study their targets before they attack and as the days turn into weeks officials fear that we will see a surge in violent home invasions and the looting of businesses. From Thursday the 26th to Sunday the 29th, our armed response officers were called out to 12 different crime scenes, in which business were broken into and robbed.

What new techniques have criminals contrived?

This pandemic has supported another disease that plagues our communities – criminals. Taking advantage of the situation, these cunning criminals are scamming residents into letting them into their homes by claiming to be healthcare officials offering door-to-door COVID19 tests. Residents are urged not to let these scammers onto their property and to contact police immediately if these so-called “officials” come knocking.

In the days building up to lockdown, many businesses began preparing by setting employees up to work from home. This caused a spike in cyber crimes as hackers took advantage of this situation targeting remote workers with phishing scams inspired by the COVID19 pandemic.

What can you do to stay safe during the lockdown?

1. Remember routine safety measures – Staying home might keep you safe from Coronavirus, but it doesn’t make you immune to crime. Reports of home invasions have begun to stream in over the weekend and we’re urging residents to remain mindful of routine safety measures during this time such as:

• Keeping security gates locked,
• Keeping perimeter zones armed if spending time outside for an early intruder alert, and
• Remembering to arm the system at night.

Residents are cautioned not to become complacent and to follow more of our home invasion safety tips.

2. Test your security system – One of the simplest, but most overlooked steps to ensuring you are safe at home is to test your alarm system. For an armed response officer to respond to your emergency, a signal actually needs to be received by Blue’s control centre. Follow our two DIY tests to ensure your system is in good working order.

3. Cancel false alarms – The simple act of cancelling a false alarm could save another’s life. It means that our armed response vehicles are not dispatched unnecessarily and our control centre staff are not kept on the line investigating while a real emergency demands attention. You can cancel a false alarm through your Blue Mobile Panic app or by calling us on 031 717 5000.

4. Shop with caution – Lately food and other essentials have become hot commodities and some will do anything to survive. A recent report of a supermarket shootout in which armed robbers assaulted shoppers gives us a glimpse of what can be expected as money becomes tighter in low-income households. Other incidents reported opportunistic muggers lying in wait in parking lots, ready to pounce when shoppers approach their cars. Keep a careful eye out.

5. Venture out vigilantly – Quiet streets and lone drivers create the ideal opportunity for hijackers. Residents are urged to remain vigilant when leaving the house and follow our latest hijacking safety tips when traveling anywhere.

6. Press your panic button – Gardening, cleaning out the garage, hanging up the washing or playing outside with the family – there’s plenty to do during lockdown. But whilst you’re inside working or outside enjoying the sunshine, the chances are your alarm isn’t armed which leaves you vulnerable to a home invasion. Keep your remote panic or mobile panic button nearby so if you find yourself in trouble you can notify us quickly, ensuring help is on the way fast.

Rest assured, during the lockdown Blue Security’s operations continue to function. Our fearless armed response officers and tactical units are out patrolling the streets, remaining vigilant and ready for action. Behind the scenes, our 24hr control centre staff continue to receive and action alarm signals timeously and our technical team remains on standby to assist in any way they can. Stay home and stay safe Durbs.

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