IN 2016, UNISA’s School of Criminal Justice conducted research into understanding and preventing house robbery in South Africa. Based on in-depth interviews with convicted robbers they found that a staggering eight out of 10 residential robberies are committed using information from domestic workers, gardeners, and former employees.Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing and Communications Manager at Fidelity ADT, says this is particularly worrying as residents usually view their domestic staff as a home’s first line of defence and they play a critical role in security. “Homeowners need to be aware of the importance of vetting all staff very carefully. We recommend you use a specialist placement consultancy who can do the necessary background checks,” she says. Although the survey is almost three years old now, a number of the findings are still relevant: • Robbers will monitor the home for as long as two weeks.• Most attacks occur between 7 pm and midnight as people are relaxed, sleeping, cooking or watching TV and the security systems and beams are not activated. Robberies can continue until 4 am.• 97% of robbers are armed and on average an armed robbery gang has four members.• The average age of a house robber is 19 to 26 years of age.• An average of 30% of all house robbers have either committed murder or won’t hesitate to commit murder. “In our experience we have found that security measures like electric fences, detection beams and Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) are still key deterrents to crime, as are pets. How secure your neighbourhood is, is also a meaningful factor. If robbers are scouting carefully they will view regular patrols and a strong neighbourhood watch system as a good reason to move on. It is equally important that domestic staff always keep security gates on doors locked. The alarm system must always be armed when they leave the house; even if it is only for a few minutes.“The bottom line is you always need to remain vigilant. Your security starts with having the correct domestic and gardening employees who are well vetted and are well informed about your security protocols, to having the right security measures around your home; to living in a community that supports and has good security protocols,” she ends. — Supplied.