Diep River police encourage community members to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times as the festive season is fast approaching.The officers have given several tips for the community to stay safe this festive season. They recommend having a high fence around the house with lockable gates, as it is much safer than a high wall due to the advantage of improved visibility.“The primary aim of the fence is to make access or intrusion difficult and to allow dogs to move freely around the house. Ensure that your gates are locked at all times and that the keys cannot be reached easily and are not lying around uncontrolled,” says Diep River police spokesperson Constable Zak Marais.“Security gates with sturdy locks in front of each outer door, as well as burglar proofing covering all windows, are recommended. Devices such as window bars, security doors, razor wire, among other things, prevent easy access,” he says.Marais adds that an alarm system, preferably connected to an armed response company, is an effective deterrent.“In the rural environment a siren or alarm on the roof that can be heard over a distance and that can be activated by a switch or panic button in the house, is recommended. A few switches or panic buttons in different rooms of the house should be installed. An alarm must also have the capability to warn the occupants of any intrusion into the house,” he says.He says security lights on the outside of the house improve the physical protection of a house, farm or smallholding. The lights must be directed away from the house and must let the occupants use the windows without being seen from outside. Be aware of possible shadows and blind spots.“Ensure that all doors are locked at all times and that windows are closed when you are not at home. Keep dogs“Large dogs serve as a deterrent. At least one dog should be trained to sleep inside the house.“If you leave your residence, inform your family or neighbours of your intended destination, the time you expect to return and the route you will be driving.“Ensure that tools such as axes, spades, picks, ladders, etc. that can be used in an attack are locked away when you do not use them,” he says.What is also important is to vary your daily routine.“Get into the habit of not immediately falling asleep after switching off the lights – remain awake for a while.You should not be visible in the bedroom from the outside when you are asleep. Always keep a torch nearby at night and when you use it, ensure that you do not give away your position.“Do not allow strangers on your premises or in your house without having properly identified the person, especially at night. “Implement proper key control measures. Identify keys by means of codes instead of indicating in writing on labels to which gate ordoor access can be gained. Keys to the safe must be kept on your person.“Never hide keys in traditional places, such as in potplants or under doormats. Keys in the keyhole on the inside of the front or back door should be turned to avoid easy removal,” he says. Marais says there should be at least two communications systems, for example a telephone and a cellphone.“Have the telephone installed where it is easily accessible from anywhere in the house.“Inform your children not to give an indication that adult supervision is not available when they answer the phone,” he says.Marais also encourages partnering with the police. “The public is an important partner of the police in strengthening the fight against crime. Diep River police encourage all residents to participate in efforts in the community by joining the local neighbourhood watch in your area or the community policing forum.”V Report suspicious behaviour and information to the police by calling Diep River Police Station on 021 710 7300 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.