Thieves fool house alarms with umbrellas

2008-10-17 00:00

Durban thieves have found an innovative way to break into houses without setting off electronic alarm systems.

By using large golf umbrellas, they shield their bodies from alarm sensors.

In the latest incident, robbers broke into a fully armed Morningside home and made off with expensive appliances.

Owner Sally Scott told Weekend Witness that the robbers entered the house through a tiny bathroom window on Thursday without setting off her alarm system.

The robbers stole a 60-year-old string set of pearls that belonged to Scott’s mother. This is the third such robbery in the past six weeks. “When my daughter got home, she found that the window had been broken and the burglar guard bent in. When she went into my bedroom, she saw that the [burglar alarm] was fully armed,” she said.

Scott said she normally gets a phone call whenever the alarm goes off, but this time the alarm didn’t go off.

“When Chubb security arrived, they told me that robbers used this modus operandi [the umbrella] when breaking into homes. It covers the body so sensors can’t pick it up,” she said.

When Scott and the security guard went outside, they found a golf umbrella and a screwdriver lying in the garden.

She said that another tactic robbers employ is to wrap themselves in a wet blanket, which also shields them from the sensor.

Scott said security companies should inform people about crime trends.

“We go out thinking our homes are safe. Security companies need to inform their clients about these things so that we can upgrade our security systems,” she said. She said the thieves almost cleaned out her entire home and stole sentimental items.

Chubb spokeswoman Alison Bull said that a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the robbery will be conducted. “We will do everything in our power to find out what happened,” she said.

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