Protect yourself and your valuables this festive season

Festive season is a time of jubilant moods; people relax and somewhat let their guard down- however this is the time to be more vigilant as criminals target unsuspecting individuals during the  hustle and bustle.

At this time of the year there are increased incidences of road accidents and high crime rates including car hijackings, burglary, robberies and theft.

Motor theft is very common as people are most of the time always in a rush and preoccupied.  Criminals target drivers on the road, at shopping malls and at their place of residence. They used sophisticated equipment to break windows, jam cars and get away with whatever is in the car or the car itself.  The BPS Deputy Public Relations Officer,  Senior Superintendent Near Bagali has stated that From January to 3rd December 2017 a total of 258 cars have been reported stolen and this is how you can protect yourself from falling victim. Botswana Insurance Company (BIC)  advises drivers to put their handbags and shopping bags in the boot, always ensure that their car is locked and be on the lookout for vehicles that remain in your rear view mirror as they are highly likely to be following you. It is advisable that if you feel you are being followed, then drive to the nearest police station.

It is evident that road accidents also increase during this season, however with the 60 days  of Action on crime and road  safety the Botswana Police Service have indicated that they have put deterrent measures in place to address crime and road safety matters. Statistics from the BPS Public Relations Department show that 15,448 accidents occured between January and November 2017, with a total of 320 fatal accidents claiming 384 lives as from January to 3rd December 2017.  The Police spokesperson intimated that they have set strategic roadblocks, have rapid response teams and will take action against all those who commit traffic offences. He further advised the public to use safety belts, obey road traffic regulations, desist from driving at excessive speed and drinking and driving.

BIC advises that if you are going on holiday, prepare well on time before the trip.  Depending on how long you will be gone, ensure your house is fully secure. According to Botswana Police Service(BPS), Public Relations Office; 2128 houses were broken into between January and September 2017.  This is a cause for alarm as more houses are left vacant over the holidays therefore the public is urged to engage extra security, subscribe to a neighborhood watch program which would mean that every suspicious movement around the house or property becomes a subject of scrutiny by neighbours who at the earliest opportunity would raise alarm and have the Police attend to their potential clients in time. It is also important to ensure your security gates and alarms are fully functional before leaving. Have friends or family occasionally check your premises, and collect flyers often left at the gate, to show some form of activity.

The business community is also at risk as they are easy targets for criminals at this time of the year.  Retail stores in some instances almost double their sales and this also means that they have twice as much cash to manage. Stores are increasing their stock holdings to cater for the expected annual rise in sales and normally close late.

It is advisable that businesses take precautions by making more than one deposit at the bank in a day, change banking routines daily by going to a different branch, change cars and times and make use of convenient online banking and mobile app options..

Daylight armed robberies are also prevalent. Businesses should train their staff on how to act during a robbery to avoid injuries and fatalities, follow their directions and stay calm. Install CCTV cameras at entry points as a deterrent measure as criminals tend to target their unsuspecting customers during shopping sprees and also for possible identification of criminals.

Below are a few additional pointers to minimise your exposure of being a victim of crime this festive season;

  • Be vigilant when arriving and leaving home, criminals hang around residential areas to pounce on their victim when they arrive home.
  • Don’t show off on social media of your whereabouts. Refrain from advertising your imminent departure every time you leave home as that would expose you to monitoring by potential intruders.
  • Install proper locks, burglar proof bars / doors, gates and electric fences.
  • Refrain from carrying large sums of money in your handbags
  • Avoid using cellphones while driving or walking.
  • Avoid giving lifts to strangers or hitch hikers to minimize the risk of car jackings.
  • When you are out and about doing your shopping, be aware of your surroundings pay attention to who is around you, what they are doing and what activities are going on.
  • Don’t overload your arms with packages and bags while shopping.
  • Avoid talking on your cell phone whilst shopping.
  • Place all shopping bags in the vehicle boot, this keeps bags out of sight and less of a risk for a potential break in.
  • Try to carry only the amount of cash you will need to make your purchases and limit the number of credit cards to only the ones necessary for your current shopping trip or for that day.

Because anything can happen, for your own peace of mind, make sure you have the correct insurance policy in place. The last thing you want to worry about while away is whether your property and contents are safe, and if anything were to happen, at least you are covered.