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How safe are we during and after the lockdown - Trisha Gokool Parshotam, Dragon Protection

Protection Services As I pen this column dear South Africa, it comes to mind that by the time this article reaches you, we will be on day 14 of the lockdown and day 100 of the year 2020. Now what is important to remember, is that work days for most corporates, factories and members of industry began by mid January, 15 days into the year.

Many people worked through Christmas like retailers, waitresses, waiters, taxi drivers, hotels, bed and breakfasts just to list a few. So essentially for some people this lockdown has come just as engines have turned on and the wheels have begun to turn. And for other people - they had a bumper December and January, and things were beginning to slow down and the Easter holiday was their next rainbow at the end of the cloud. What this means for South Africa is that from the estimated 60 million population, almost more than half will just about make it to the finish line come end of April to pay their bills, and the balance are not going to know what to do.

As a result, certain criminal elements will be on the rise, immediately after the lockdown while some will be occurring during the lockdown and worsen after. Vagrants or fence hoppers will be stealing for a quick buck, so expect an increase in the theft of copper pipes, burglar guards, light fittings, gate motors, garage grids and any other items that can be sold as scrap metal during and after the lockdown. Also for cars that are parked outside try not to leave any high value items, change, jackets or even empty bags in sight, as this will be a temptation and glass windows will be broken for these. Like every business been affected by the lockdown, crime syndicates are also on a lockdown, but with plans of actions like every business currently to maximise "revenue and output" once the lockdown is over.

So this means that syndicate crime, such as hijacking and serious and violent crimes are going to be on the rise immediately after the lockdown and also with a possibility of yet a another dangerous December after a long time. Any form of technological devices will be at risk. This would mean an increase of remote jamming, as the daily movement of the population starts up again and increases, as well as an increase in break-ins on commercial properties with technological devices on the premises.

Fraud will be another criminal element to consider after the lockdown, for example card cloning, phishing, and corporate fraud. Waitrons and cashiers will be tempted to get involved and assist the card cloning syndicates as a desperate measure to replenish lost funds from a lack of work and syndicate members will use this loss to encourage their assistance. After the lockdown be extremely vigilant as contact crime is going to be on the increase, these will include home invasions, hijackings and armed robberies. So how does one prevent all of the above? You cannot prevent vagrants as they roam freely, but during the lockdown one can be extremely cautious and vigilant by making sure that gates to your premises are locked and keep all your easy, moveable items out of site like bicycles, tool boxes, old scrap metal building material, essentially anything that can be sold as scrap metal.

After the lockdown try and remain this vigilant even if you are not on your property. In terms of remote jamming it's simple, just don't be complacent and leave anything in your car that is visible from the outside... even an empty bag. A clever tip is before you leave to go out one should pack all items that you do not require into your boot, so that when you are out and getting out of your car, you are not doing this and bringing attention to yourself. For example, if you know you are not taking your handbag into wherever you maybe going to, put it in the boot before you leave for where you're going to. In terms of card fraud, do not be distracted while paying, focus on paying then worry about anything else.

Ask for the bill or go to the pay point once you are completely ready to leave. Do not give your card to anybody to swipe on your behalf, do it yourself. Don't let the cashier or waitress hold the card in their hand whilst you go and fetch something you forgot. To avoid been a target or victim of corporate fraud make sure all your processes and procedures are in place. Use this lockdown as an opportunity to find loopholes in your business for such activities and engage with relevant stakeholders for a plan of action. Securing your property and making sure alarms and beams are working is essential once businesses reopen and the lockdown is over. Make this a priority for your home and businesses.

Whilst you are home during the lockdown, as all armed response companies are essential services and working, use this as an opportunity to test your beams and alarm system. Sensor lights should be tested as well. Tighten loose hinges on windows and doors. Walk around your property and look at your weak entry and exit points. Make a note of all the items that need replacing or fixing and make these a priority to fix after the lockdown or now if you have the tools.
Also sit down as a family and discuss a plan should a home invasion happen. What would you do as a family and what would your plan of action be? All of this will increase not just your security but your awareness of your surroundings and peace of mind, when the above contact and business premises listed crimes, increase after the lockdown.

Take care and be safe!
Trisha Gokool Parshotam, Dragon Protection

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