Advice and Opinion

Crime now the number one factor to be investigated in selecting a home

From time to time, says Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group, estate agents are asked by their clients to come up with a list of the factors they should check before entering into a home sale agreement – or even looking for a home in an area. 

“Such lists can be useful and often remind buyers of points they might otherwise have overlooked,” said Rawson.

Sadly, however, today, he said, at the very top of the list there has to be a question regarding the crime in the area.

“Crime is now so much a fact of life in South Africa that some people are coming to accept it – but it is still responsible for many people moving, e.g. to George and Knysna, or emigrating.”

The criminals, said Rawson, have become a great deal more sophisticated and more difficult to check.

Nevertheless, it has to be recognised, said Rawson, that some areas are coping a great deal better with crime than others. Those where most of the homes have good intruder systems, efficient police forces and very active neighbourhood watches are doing better than those where these matters are neglected.

Crime checks for any area, said Rawson, can be made via these neighbourhood watches or via security companies. The SAPS website, which is regularly updated, also gives good information on the subject.

Many homes today, added Rawson, are definitely inadequately protected, which makes it easier for experienced criminals to ‘hit’ them. These days criminals almost always have their own transport and can move in and out very quickly.

“I am often asked what measures should be taken to try and prevent these increasingly sophisticated criminals being successful. Two measures which I now recommend are CCTV for checking the area all around the property, especially the spaces in front of the gates and perimeter beams around the edge of the property, which should now be seen as standard. These were previously luxuries – today they are more or less essential unless you live in a security estate. We simply have to get rid of the mind-set which tries to save money on security equipment because a very well protected home will always deter intruders.”

One of the sad aspects of the current situation, said Rawson, is that older people, many of whom very much dislike the idea of leaving their homes – and in many cases more particularly their gardens – are finding themselves forced to move into retirement complexes simply to ensure that they are safe.

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