It’s half past three on a Sunday afternoon. The last embers of the lunchtime braai are slowly dying out. Your sister and brother-in-law have maneuvered their children into the Toyota, thanked you for the meal, and driven home. Taking a last sip of wine, you flop down in the easy chair and prepare to settle into a well-deserved Sunday snooze.
But then the phone rings. It’s the security people from the office. They tell you the alarm’s gone off, yet again. It’s the fifth time this weekend. Each of the previous times they called you stopped what you were doing and, like a dutiful citizen, got in your car and drove all the way to work to check things out. Each time you found nothing amiss: it must have been a technical glitch, or a bird or an animal or something tripping the perimeter fence.
“It’s OK, the alarm’s faulty, it’s been happening all weekend,” you tell the operator at the other end, feeling only the slightest twang of guilt. She asks for your password. You give it. Surely, everything will be fine.
Except that it isn’t. When you arrive at work on Monday morning, you discover that the office has been burgled. The CCTV footage shows two cars filled with men pulling up not too long after the alarm went off the previous day and, with a swiftness and professionalism that is frightening to behold, clearing out the premises. You realize, too late, that you are the latest victim of a devious new technique used by criminals: they trip the alarm multiple times over the course of a weekend, until the business owner is convinced it’s an error of some kind and relaxes into a false sense of security. The very moment you decide it’s not worth checking out anymore, they strike.
According to Deleur Stander, General Manager at Protea Hotel by Marriot in Techno Park and head of the security portfolio for the Techno Park SRA management body, this trick of tripping the alarm multiple times before breaking in is a recent development in national crime trends. “Usually they strike on weekends, when people are generally a bit more relaxed,” he says. “Even if you do go and check out a tripped alarm, you tend to do it a bit less thoroughly. And these guys are professional, they do their research: in tripping the alarm many times they give themselves the opportunity to study the movements of the patrol vehicles, they know how much time they have to get in and out.”
Stander has a few suggestions that may help Techno Parkers protect themselves against such strikes. “There are quite a few guys out here who don’t really have decent security – burglar bars and such. And you’d be surprised at how dark it is in Techno Park at night. A well-placed spotlight can make all the difference. It may also be worth considering not advertising your security company on the front of your building – it means the criminals know where to look to find out if the patrol vehicle is in the area, or not.”
A few years ago, he says, they were having some trouble with occasional car break-ins at the hotel. Since installing spot lights and cameras, however, these break-ins are a thing of the past. “People need to realize that prevention is better than cure,” he urges.
Another good idea is to join the Whatsapp group for security in Techno Park, to stay informed about current crime trends and specific security-related incidents (people who want to sign up for the group can contact Deleur at email@example.com). Rather than getting into fruitless arguments with security companies on social media, people can save time and energy by keeping abreast of developments via a dedicated communication channel.
Techno Parkers who are alarmed at the prospect of the increase in sophistication in criminal activity that security experts around the country are reporting, can rest assured that Techno Park is keeping abreast of development with a proposed new security infrastructure upgrade. Although the details of these plans are still being worked out (watch this space!), Techno Parkers will hopefully soon be able to take their post-Sunday-lunch-braai naps with even more peace of mind.