Over the past few months, Kenya and specifically some parts of Nairobi have been plunged into a dark state of insecurity, from burglary, murder, kidnapping, grenade explosions you name it. Our neighborhoods and homes are no longer a sanctuary. It is no longer safe to be around specific places at night, your usually clueless, innocent faced house help can engineer a thieving spree in your home. No matter where you are, something or anything can happen; do not only bank on the daily security patrol or the high stone fencing around your compound. Burglars can be very creative, the tactics and methods they devise can be so ingenious that they leave you impressed despite your loss.
It’s there for advisable to take proactive measures to create a safe haven for your family by taking the following precautionary steps and a little common sense to … Yes at times we are susceptible to being duped by these burglars and hand them a free pass to our homes.
WARD THEM OFF.
Install an alarm system.
Alarms are a worthy investment and are effective when it comes to warding off burglars. They create a flight response from them. Some alarms come with audible sirens while others are silent but immediately send a signal to a security company in case of a break-in. When installing an alarm make sure it is well programmed e.g. to reset automatically after every 2 minutes. Make sure it has an audible siren; the other important thing to do is to liaise with an effective and reliable Security Company to monitor your alarm. They should be very fast in response.
Better still there are some alarms that also send you an alert directly to your phone when someone breaks in. Lastly the best alarm to choose is one that is extremely noisy.
Whether you are at home or away always keep your doors heavily bolted. If you have a door that can be kicked down in one blow, replace it. Get a carpenter to also add some extra latches on the door. Use heavy duty locks that resist lock –picking attempts. The back and front door should always be the first ones to be locked. Burglars’ usually want something that is easy to pick, so when they notice that Heavy Bolt padlock around your gate that could be as hard as cracking the NIS codes, they’ll pass by.
Make it a nightly routine to check the locks.
If you are leaving on the ground floor do not leave your windows open when you are not at home. One other thing that you can do to deter thieves is by putting up metal grills on your entire glass windows.
Get a Dog
Long regarded as a man’s most loyal and trust worthy best friend. Get one to scare trespassers as they raise alarm anytime a stranger is nearby. This is optional.
SECURE YOUR PERIMETER.
Ensure that the exterior of your home is well lit be it at the back or front this eliminates the dark spots for burglars hideouts. Invest in motion sensor lights if you are able to.
Eliminate a hideout
Rob intruders of their hiding places, and cultivate your environs to your advantage by trimming shrubs, cutting down the nearby thicket, to get a clear vision of any suspicious figure lurking in the dark.
Erect a fence.
I mentioned above that we should not solely bank on fences, but a good way to fortify your house is by erecting one, a fence creates a physiological boundary that deters intruders, even a 3 foot fence is enough to ward off burglars.
If it expensive to buy an alarm then pretend you have one. Create a deterrent value in your property by placing a sign or a sticker of an alarm company on your door, windows or gates. Burglars will use usually pass by houses that have these signs and move on to another property.
If dogs are not exactly your best animals then don’t get one, pretend you have one, you will be surprised when you enter homes whose gates are brightly emblazoned with the words “MBWA KALI” I tell you will not find a puppy nor a dog hair anywhere in those grounds, be smart put up a sign on your gate.
Beat the burglars at their own game by cultivating a lived in look. When you are not at home you can use lighting to create the impression that the house has occupants. This happens to be a common trick, what you can do is set a timer for lights that will automatic switch on and off at different rooms in at different intervals.
Alternatively, talk to your neighbor and ask him assist you in securing your home by parking his car in front of your gate, emptying your trash for you, you can also leave an extra key so that he can get in from time to time to draw the blinds or even leave the music system playing during the day.
Know your neighbor
The Nyumba Kumi Initiative implemented by the government was a brilliant idea, visit your neighbors, get to know them, not everyone is an ordinary jack on the streets, some are predators waiting for the opportune moment to strike, if you suspect any suspicious behavior, keep them at arm’s length. Alternatively establish a friendship with those you trust, those who can help you secure your home while you are away, leave an extra key or even sleep in. You can work together to create a secure neighborhood by coming up with a Neighborhood Group / Watch to discuss strategies to put in place for the safety of all the residents in that area.
Know your employees
Mama Boi was treated to a shock of a lifetime, she had lived with her house help Anna for 4 good years and their relationship was more of a mother –daughter like. Little did she know that Anna was not that loyal trustworthy house help she thought she was, well to cut to the chase, Anna with the help of other “like minded” employees, swept her house clean from top to bottom. Having heard of this incidence Mama Muli the next door neighbor took the following precautions., take a photocopy of the ID, as well as a recent photo, conduct a background family search and any criminal records (though some people say this intimidates the helps.) It is better to be safe than sorry.
Do not leave your keys under the doormat or a flower pot this is the first place burglars search when in pretext of being a resident of that house.
Do not leave any stranger in your house unattended, burglars usually come in disguise by day before they impound on your house at night.
Do not expose anything e.g. jewelry that is of value easily, stash your valuable items in a safe somewhere way for the prying eyes of the people who “drop in” for a little chat, in the midst of taking tea might be physically evaluating your financial wealth and marking their next target mentally.