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The public is urged to exercise caution, as the hype and aura of the festive season is already upon us , and therefore advised to adopt a proactive approach against the accompanying ills of petty theft, house break-in, robberies and carjackings.

Thus, on account of the usual increase in criminal activities over this period, Botswana Insurance Company (BIC) with the support of the Botswana Police Services(BPS) has come up with a few tips; which if observed may help you to avoid becoming a statistic of crime.

Some of the suggested protection measures that could be put in place to deter intruders involve making it look like the owners are not on vacation at all. For example, investing in a radio alarm system with a reputable security company and use of switch timers for internal lights which would be set to go on at a particular and programmed time of the day making it appear like the property is occupied are viewed as some of the ways in which criminals can be deterred.

In addition, members of the public are cautioned to refrain from advertising their imminent departure every time they leave their homes as that would expose them to monitoring by potential intruders, neither should they give hints of their absence at any point. Posting on social media about one’s vacation and leaving auto generated email indicating that one won’t be home and their date of return surely undermines all other precautionary measures in place.

Another idea is engaging someone to do house sitting to keep intruders at bay, or joining a Neighborhood Watch 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.

Still with respect to the general public the Police spokesperson intimated that they should refrain from carrying large sums of money in their handbags, avoid using cell phones while walking and to ensure that tools in the homes are safely kept lest they present criminals with ready material for their ugly ventures. Engraving properties with marks for identification in the event of either arrest of culprits or lost and found items as well as proper placing of keys following secure locking of all exits in the property is important.

The Botswana Police Spokesperson in the Public Relations Department, Senior Superintendent Near Bagali has stated that the other area infested with criminals ready to prey on unsuspecting members of the public is the bus rank where they pose as bus conductors keen to help travelling customers only to disappear with their bags and goods.

The Business community could go a long way in reinforcing public safety and security by installing CCTV cameras as a deterrent measure in their stores and facilities where criminals tend to target their unsuspecting customers during shopping sprees.

With regard to motor vehicle security, take extra precautions if visiting South Africa where car hijackings are common. Always notify family or trusted friends of your intended route and expected time of arrival. Do not pick up strangers or hitch hikers. Always be mindful of your surroundings and be alert on the roads.

Based on the company statistics , BIC Claims Manager, Mr John Heldsinger said criminals seem to target an array of vehicle types varying from trucks, SUV’s, Pick-ups and sedans. BIC has observed two types of hijackings:

  1. opportunistic in nature, where older/ lower valued vehicles are stolen and used for random criminal acts only to be dumped or destroyed later.
  2. Targeted hijackings where specific vehicles / trucks are targeted, usually run by syndicates operating in several SADC countries simultaneously

Against this background, Botswana Police Spokesperson in the Public Relations Department, Senior Superintendent Near Bagali cautioned vehicle owners to ensure they have tracking devices installed in their moving gadgets. In highlighting the importance of this he said, “These have the effect of making criminals think twice thereby minimising incidences of car theft or at least delay until possible police interception”.

Citing figures he posited that as at December 2014, fourty one (41) vehicles were stolen, twenty five (25) in 2015, eight(8) of which the owners suffered violence. This year as at November nineteen(19) vehicle’s have been stolen of which (five) 5 were violently taken.

Although some insurance companies do not necessarily make installation of tracking devices in vehicles a requirement for securing insurance cover, there is the added benefit of reduced premium fees for deterrent measures put in place to minimize the risk . Despite the above there is no guarantee that their vehicles will be recovered.

Furthermore, vehicle owners have been advised to always ensure that they park them within view or at least where there are lights if it’s at night over and locking all doors, and removing all valuables out of view where they could attract even opportunist intrusion. Make sure to report any suspicious movement to the police who have also indicated that as part of the festive season public safety initiative have created a standby force for such kind of alarms.

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.
  • Be aware of how you carry your purse or wallet.
  • Shop during daylight hours when possible & shop with a friend.
  • Don’t overload your arms with packages and bags while shopping.
  • Remove any unnecessary items and leave them at home.
  • 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 and simply for you or your business’ peace of mind, make sure you have the correct cover in place.

Motswana Entrepreneur Magazine ,