24 November 2021

Know when something is suspicious in your neighbourhood

Submitted by Jacqui
Know when something is suspicious in your neighbourhood

Some may call them nosey neighbours or busy bodies, but people who report suspicious activity in their neighbourhood are doing the right thing – if their concerns have substance.

Charnel Hattingh, Head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity ADT, says fighting crime is not solely the job of the police and private security companies; residents have to keep their eyes and ears open too.

Social media platforms have made it easy for people to get involved in crime fighting but it is important users understand the boundaries of information sharing within the rules of the group as set out by the administrators.

“Suspicious activity refers to behaviour or actions which seem unusual or are out of place. It is important to understand what suspicious activity is, so that you know when to act on something,” says Hattingh. “Gut instinct remains a good compass in this respect.”

Reporting groundless suspicions can lead to a waste of resources for the police or private security companies, as well as CPF and other neighbourhood structures on patrol.

Hattingh says there is great value in establishing good relationships with your neighbours because when you know each other’s routines it is easy to spot something which doesn’t belong or is out of the norm.

“Noticing suspicious activity helps to prevent neighbourhood crimes. As community members, we all have a duty to do our part to keep our suburbs safe,” says Hattingh.

She provides 5 examples of suspicious activity to be aware of:

  1. A stranger/s in a car cruising the street or sitting in a parked car for a long period of time. If you don’t recognise the car or occupants, note the make, model, colour and registration and a description of the occupants. Report this to the police or your security provider to check out.

  2. Strangers walking the streets looking over walls or into parked cars.

  3. A stranger in your neighbour’s yard when they are not home. Unless they told you they have a house sitter or someone coming to feed their pets, this should raise alarm bells. The same goes for a stranger loitering on a street corner or outside a gate.

  4. People going from gate to gate requesting access to check your meter or conduct a survey without proper identification. Criminals use various tricks to gain access to properties and can pose as anything from construction workers to church goers doing good. The golden rule is never open the gate for a stranger. Domestic staff are often targeted so educate your helpers and equip them with remote panic buttons.

  5. Every suburb has show houses or houses for sale. These have become major attractions for criminals, who usually then target the houses in groups of men and women posing as potential buyers. Two will keep the agent busy while a third wanders through the house and steals what they can. Remember too, show houses and houses for sale draw strangers to your neighbourhood. They may use the one criminal opportunity to also check out the rest of the neighbourhood. Agents are urged to be particularly vigilant.

“We live under a lot of stress due to crime, so it is understandable that many people’s suspicion radars are very finely tuned. To be of real help and provide valuable information, which could even lead to the arrest of a wanted suspect, ensure you are reporting something of genuine concern.

“Good neighbourly relations help enormously to keep suburbs safe. So, if you haven’t already done so, commit to getting to know your neighbour better and talk about crime and ways to help keep each other’s properties and families safe,” Hattingh concludes.

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