Befriend your neighbours for safety's sake

2007-11-15 00:00

The greatest restraint on criminal activity is an alert neighbourhood. Neighbourhood watches have had an impressive impact on domestic crime, most especially when the domestic staff are actively involved.

It's not necessary to create a neighbourhood watch; all you need do is befriend your immediate neighbours. Agree with the households on either side of you, directly opposite and behind you to be alert to unusual behaviour, loiterers and strangers. Have details of their contact numbers and put them near the phone. If something untoward occurs, either you or your domestic worker can phone the homeowner affected, who can then decide what action to take.

Obviously, having a monitoring or armed response service is helpful in these situations. The homeowner can contact his or her service provider and request a check by the response officer. Where there is no response service, the owner can phone the police and ask them to check or drive by the dwelling.

Under no circumstances should the homeowner check the property personally unless he or she is

properly trained or has fully paid-up life insurance.

Some training will be required for children and domestic workers to help them recognise actual suspicious circumstances and not to phone in about the guy trying to drop off a copy of The Witness.

The primary advantage of this method is that it will have a knock-on effect. If you talk to your neighbours and they agree to watch out for you, they're going to realise that they need to talk to their neighbours too.

• For more information on home security, contact Toni Quaradeghini at 082 440 1224.

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