7 Ways to protect yourself in the event of an armed robbery

As 2020 draws to a close, the financial and economic impact has become apparent. Unemployment has increased, leaving millions of people without an income - as a result a multitude of social issues have followed.

by | Jan 11

5 min read

There are those that choose to actively search for work, perform part time jobs, create their own businesses, or simply just give up. Then there are those that turn to crime to provide the necessities for their loved ones.

Throughout the last decade South Africans have experienced an avalanche of seemingly endless crime, the current economic situation in the country will only serve to worsen and deepen the crime epidemic sweeping across our country. In the 4 th quarter of every year as people gear up for their December holidays, an increase in crime can be expected.

Armed Robbery is considered a contact crime with the use of a lethal weapon to threaten and intimidate victims. Very often armed robbers are looking to steal physical items such as vehicles, electronics, jewellery, cash etc. Properties and or persons are often watched and surveyed for weeks before the criminals decide to act. These are often carefully planned, thought out robberies that are quick and efficient with little to no time wasted. The use of an insider is prevalent which enables criminals to gain much needed insight into the layout of the property, movements of the victims and additional information that can be used by the criminals to mitigate risk.

While the run up to Christmas holidays may result in an increase in contact crime & armed robberies, you can protect yourself by following these 7 tips:

1. Change your routine 

There is a saying in the security industry that says, “routine kills”. This is not only true for security companies but also individuals. We often get stuck in our routine habits which is something that criminals look for and exploit. Proactive measures one can take is to take a different route to and from work, or too and from the shops. Try to leave for those routine daily activities at different times and stagger it so that someone watching is not able to gain a clear consistent picture. If possible, change the times your domestic workers come and leave your home.

2. Implement physical security

This pertains to all the physical and technological barriers one has at their property to act as a deterrent to would be criminals. It is imperative to make sure that your alarm system is linked to your security company and is working. Do a 360 check of your property to ensure there are no gaps in the fences or walls and that electric fencing is in working order. An important element is lighting, which not only provides light but ensures that criminals do not receive any cover of darkness and are easily spotted. Additional physical security measures are installing sliding locking gates, CCTV and access control systems. Unfortunately, these can be very expensive, but I would encourage looking at your budget and making room for these items as they could act as a strong deterrent for a criminal not to pick YOU. Checking your physical security and property should be done at least 3 times a year.

3. Join a community

There is usually a dominant security provider within every community and area. Getting involved in your area of residence and understanding the challenges faced by your community and security company pertaining to crime is important. Engage with your security company, ask for assistance, report all suspicious activity in and around your property, and encourage your neighbours to do the same. This should not be seen as a chore but rather a proactive step in securing your property, your family and your neighbourhood.

4. Stay calm!

It is important to remain as calm as possible and to only speak when spoken to. Do not try to reason with the criminals as their adrenaline is pumping and have often taken a substance to try calm them down. Comply with their instructions and do not question them, this allows for the ordeal to be over as quickly as possible. If possible, let the criminals go through the house taking what they want with you and your family moved as far away as possible. If you have children, they may start to cry or not quite understand what is going on. Try to ensure your children’s safety by comforting them physically and keeping chatter to a minimum. Should you simply obey the robber’s instructions, this will allow them to leave as quickly as possible and not escalate an already very volatile situation. Lastly, when the robber’s leave do not chase them, simply let them exit and ensure you and your family are safe and free from danger.

5. Gather information

An armed robbery will usually take you by surprise, which makes it extremely difficult to gain any form of reliable information on the robbers. If possible, try looking out for what they were wearing, any identifying marks on their faces or bodies and what car they were driving. Although this is difficult, it may be crucial information that will assist law enforcement and security companies in identifying and apprehending the criminals.

6. Contact Authorities

Once the robber’s have left the premises, make a call to the relevant authorities and security company. If there is physical harm to you, your family or anyone else ask for medical assistance to be sent. It is important to give as much information as possible to the police and security companies which may assist in linking the robbers to other crimes committed and ensuring your neighbourhood and community can be on the lookout if they enter the area again. If you have CCTV monitoring show it to the police or get the relevant recordings from your off site surveillance monitoring company.

7. Get trauma counselling

Going through an armed robbery is a traumatic experience especially when children are involved. It is important to assess the emotional and psychological impact of the ordeal on every member of the family as these events have the potential to leave lasting memories. Ask your security company if they offer trauma debriefing for you and your family. If not, it is important to seek out this type of service as both the physical and emotional well-being of you and your family is equally important.