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Back to School Safety

Be safe in more ways than one when going back to school.

Life is slowly returning to “normal” under Level 3 of the national lockdown, with children starting to head back to school and many more people to work.

Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing and Communications Manager at Fidelity ADT, says while this is a positive move in Youth Month, the sad reality of the lifting of lockdown restrictions is that criminals are also back to their routine. Fidelity ADT statistics indicate a definite increase in crime compared to incidents recorded in Level 4 and 5 of the lockdown.

“We could all breathe a sigh of relief when there was a noticeable decrease in crime in the weeks following the implementation of lockdown at midnight on March 26. Criminals had little place to hide as their presence on otherwise empty streets was highly visible and a lot more law enforcement and security patrols were being done,” Hattingh said.

What concerns Fidelity ADT now though, she said, is that children going back to school as part of the easing of restrictions in Level 3 may be pleased to get back to routine, but criminals have also noted back-to-school dates.

“Areas around schools can be ripe pickings for opportunistic criminals. Children walking with their cellphones visible are particularly vulnerable, and incidents continue where learners are either held up with a weapon or conned into handing their phones over to a stranger ‘in need of help’.”

Other incidents common around schools are hijackings of parents waiting to collect children, armed robberies and vehicle thefts.

Hattingh points out that many of these crimes are avoidable if children and parents remain vigilant.

“Criminals rely on the fact that parents are oftentimes preoccupied when dropping off or collecting children from school. Everyone is absorbed in their own worlds, seldom noticing what is going on around them. This is the downside of routine and the humdrum of daily life,” she said.

Her advice is to exercise vigilance and keep security top of mind from home to school, to work, at the mall and anywhere else your daily tasks take you.

“For example, if you leave home at precisely 7am each morning, idling the car in the driveway with the gate open and checking your phone while you wait for the kids, you are making yourself an easy target,” Hattingh warns.

Why? Because these are some of the scenarios which could happen in the blink of an eye:
1. You are hijacked in the driveway.
2. Armed robbers pull you out of the car and force you back into the house.
3. Your cellphone is grabbed out of your hand.
4. You are robbed at gunpoint of your valuables.

“All are frightening and real scenarios in South Africa. While it is bad enough to be hijacked in your own driveway, you definitely do not want to give criminals the opportunity to get onto your property and into your house. This is where things can go very wrong very quickly.”

Use these 5 security tips when leaving home: 
1. Keep the garden beams armed until everyone is ready to leave home.
2. Check up and down the street before opening the gate. If you see someone suspicious or a strange car parked nearby, phone your security company to come and escort you out of the driveway safely and investigate.
3. Wait until the gate is properly closed before pulling off.
4. Keep doors locked and windows up while driving.
5. Stay off your cellphone and keep the radio at a reasonable volume. It is advisable to turn the radio off when approaching home so that you can focus on your surroundings.

Hattingh reiterates that routine is often a target of criminals.

“People should be aware of varying the things they have to do each day by taking alternate routes or varying times of the day things get done,” she said.

“It is encouraging that the country is getting back to some sort of normality, all we ask is that people keep their home and personal security a priority, no matter which level of lockdown we are in because criminals are not in lockdown unless they are behind bars!”

Compiled on behalf of Fidelity ADT by Cathy Findley Public Relations, for media queries contact or 071 764 8233

086 010 0911

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