While shopping lists get longer leading up to Christmas, so does the list of risk factors for falling victim to crime. Atlas Security Operations Manager, Monty Montgomery, cautions people to not get so swept up in and distracted by the year-end frenzy that it comes at the expense of their safety and security.
“Christmas specials lure people to the shops and it is easy to become distracted by the bright lights, shiny tinsel and picking out the perfect gifts for the special people in your life. But, instead of being lulled into a daze by the hustle and bustle, this is in fact the time of year to be more alert than ever.” He says being vigilant and aware of your surroundings should always top your list when shopping.
Withdrawing cash from an ATM is a quick and convenient way to access money. “Because people using an ATM are seen as having direct access to cash, they automatically become targets for criminals lurking nearby. Be extremely vigilant when using an ATM. Try not to use an ATM on the corner of a building, since corners create blind spots.”
Monty says it is advisable to not go to an ATM alone and to rather use these facilities in daylight. “Many shopping chains now offer cash withdrawal facilities at their check-out points. This offers a much safer option for obtaining cash.”
Many people prefer to put beautifully wrapped presents – ranging from stocking fillers to high-end electronics – on display under brightly lit Christmas trees. Monty warns to not put Christmas gifts on display near windows where it can be seen from the outside. “A planned or a spur-of-the-moment break-in could too easily result in the burglars doing their ‘Christmas shopping’ in your living room.”
While out shopping, be sure to:
• Be aware! Being aware of your surroundings is the number one step to protecting yourself and those around you from falling victim to crime
• Try not to carry large amounts of cash, rather use your credit/debit cards as payment method
• Avoid wearing expensive jewelry
• Take somebody with you – It is more fun and you’ve got each other as back-up
• Avoid overloading yourself with packages and shopping bags. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of movement at all times
• If you need to put purchases in your car, put everything in the boot – not on the back seat. Failing to do so may result in criminals doing more than just window shopping from your car!
Statistics show that crime in the Metro unfortunately increases during the summer holidays, and homes and businesses become targets for break-ins and robberies. “Business robberies have increased drastically this week, representing 65% of all incidents reported to us. We even saw security guards at business premises being tied up while criminals gathered their loot.”
Monty says people MUST ensure that they have adequate security protection in place at their homes and businesses. Business premises often demand specialised security measures, particularly where there are valuable data and other high-value items and stock on site. He says business owners should contact Atlas Security for a free risk assessment to ensure that they do not have any unprotected or under protected areas on site.
On the domestic front, Monty says house robberies and front-door-kicking incidents still abound. “Please make sure that not only your front door, but ALL your exterior doors are well secured. Unprotected sliding doors often lead to quick, quiet and easy access, with the added bonus of being able to effortlessly carry larger valuables out of the building.”
Monty is worried that too many people – even after repeated warnings – still don’t pull their vehicles into the yard or garage overnight. “This becomes an open invitation for opportunistic criminals to strike. Where people have the facilities to pull vehicles into the yard or garage, they MUST adopt the habit of doing so.”
He adds that, owing to advanced design and technology, it has become exceedingly difficult for criminals to steal modern cars without the actual vehicle keys. “Just because it is more challenging for a criminal to steal a vehicle without the keys, does not mean that they will give up on the prospect of speeding off in your trendy wheels.” According to him, this actually pushes criminals to the extreme in order to get the job done. “As a result, they often then switch to methods such as hi-jacking or burglary in order to steal vehicle keys before stealing the vehicle.”
Stay safe and rest assured that your world is safe in Atlas’ hands.