Schools across the country closed Friday 24 June for the mid-year holidays. For the next couple of weeks, parents and their children will be able to enjoy time together by going out to places such as malls or other big public spaces.

“We have all worked hard these first six months of the year and deserve a time to relax. It is important to remember a few basic safety tips which are valuable when you are in any kind of environment where you are surrounded by lots of people,” says Fidelity ADT’s head of communications and marketing Charnel Hattingh.

“It boils down to vigilance and awareness,” she says.

You can make a massive difference by paying attention to what happens around you and by being alert. Criminals are often looking for people who are distracted, as they offer an easy way to quickly steal something. It can be anything from a pickpocket stealing your wallet while you stand in a queue waiting to buy a movie ticket, to someone grabbing your handbag you left in your shopping trolley while you turn your back.

Hattingh urges people to act if they feel anything or anyone is suspicious.

“If you think someone is following you in a mall or if it feels like a group of people are intentionally crowding you while you wait to collect an order at a fast-food outlet, look for help or ask the people to give you some space. Trusting your gut feel is always a good idea.”

It is also a good idea to teach your kids how to identify someone or something that is out of place, while also reminding them to stay close to you when you are in a public space together.

Hattingh also recommends the following, which could help when you are out and about these holidays:

  1. Leave the expensive items such as jewellery at home
  2. If you have a daily walking schedule to and from the mall or office, change it often so that your movement does not become predictable
  3. If someone stops you to ask for assistance, keep a safe distance away from them and keep an eye for other movement around you
  4. Avoid drawing money from an ATM late at night, and if it is urgent rather consider going to an ATM in a well-lit space where a security officer is on duty
  5. Leave the headphones at home. Anything that causes distraction is to be avoided
  6. If something or someone makes you feel uncomfortable, look for help

“No one likes to think about crime and about what it can do to you or a loved one. We also don’t like to have to watch over our shoulders all the time, but it is a sad reality which we cannot avoid.

“Our wish is that people remember a few basic personal safety precautions which they could make part of their daily lives. This will hopefully make a positive difference in keeping everyone a bit safer from crime,” says Hattingh.

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