Life of fear in Durban North

2013-10-15 00:00

FORMER Sharks scrumhalf Craig Davidson and his wife have become the latest victims of a burglary at a complex in Durban North — one of a wave of crimes targeting upmarket complexes.

Thieves have targeted complexes in Glenashley, Glen Hills, Umgeni Park, La Lucia, Durban North and Effingham in recent months.

Davidson’s home is in a gated complex in La Lucia.

“I moved here a few years ago after my previous [freestanding] home was broken into, thinking that my wife and I would be safer. But it seems this is not the case. My only option now is to move to a complex like Mount Edgecombe, where security systems are more stringent,” Davidson said.

The couple slept through the entire incident when valuables such as expensive Tag Heuer watches, cellphones, their wedding rings, other jewellery and a laptop were taken.

Davidson played 56 Super Rugby and 53 Currie Cup Games for the Sharks and he also donned the Springbok jersey five times.

In 2009, he was given the Freedom of the Park in recognition of his service to the union.

The robbery at Davidson’s complex was the latest of several similiar incidents in Durban North, said Robin Candy of the Greenwood Park community policing forum.

“Complexes are as safe as their perimeter security and where they are located. The same would apply to houses. The entry and exiting of known residents must be strictly controlled.

“I know of many complexes in Sunningdale and elsewhere where they have had numerous break-ins. Some have even gone as far as telling the residents to have burglar alarms installed in their individual units as their body corporates can no longer guarantee their perimeter security.

“Residents within complexes tend to have a false sense of security,” Candy added, “as they have been told by estate agents that complexes are safer than freestanding homes.”

Lieutenant Raymond Deokaran, spokesperson for the Durban North police station, said criminals are not easily deterred, whether you live in a gated, non-gated or security access-controlled environment.

“However, taking the necessary precautions does help to prevent this. Alarm systems and knowing your neighbours are right there on top of the list.

“Owning a dog, good lighting [especially outside the house], not making it obvious that you are not at home, are other ways of safeguarding your home,” Deokaran said.

Marshall Security’s Tyrone Powell believed that break-ins depend entirely on the complex’s security measures.

“We provide security for a number of complexes in the Durban North area and have not had any incidents in complexes that have secured the perimeter with electric fencing linked to our control room, adequate perimeter lighting and patrolling security officers.

“Obviously all this comes at quite an expense and it’s mainly only the larger complexes that have the budget for it,” Powell explained.

“In my opinion,” Powell added, “you are safer in a complex if it has all the correct security measures in place and a reputable company is providing the service.”

John Roberts, CEO of Just Letting Property Group, said gated communities have become the accepted, and often desired, form of homeownership in the 21st century, “with buyers increasingly prepared to pay the premiums associated with living behind guarded security or access-controlled gates”.

“Gates and fences provide the perception of security, safety and privacy. Adding weight to the argument is that an automatic gate system or private security access boosts the property value, regardless of whether or not it actually impacts on crime in that area.

“Reality has shown that security in gated estates is not as efficient as projected or perceived, with many of the crimes committed undertaken by the residents themselves,” Roberts added.

“Developers put into place every conceivable means to limit crime from external sources, but the inside responsibility becomes that of the owners and the body corporate.

“That means there is still place for locking motor vehicles; not leaving valuable items exposed on car seats; locking the house doors; and installing burglar alarm systems and burglar bars,” Roberts emphasised.

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