“Driveway safety: deter criminals before they enter”
Statistically, you are at the highest risk for hijacking in your own driveway, as you arrive home from work. It’s a sobering thought that one day, when you are unloading the children and groceries – you might be met with a gun to your head.
Criminals scope out your home and decide whether you are a good target, simply by looking at your driveway. When last did you evaluate your driveway safety?
In this article, we will look at some of the things you can do to make your driveway less attractive to criminals.
1) Clear up your driveway
Take a critical look at your driveway and assess where a criminal might be able to hide. Bushy plants are an invitation for criminals. By clearing away any potential hiding places for crooks, you can drastically improve the safety of your driveway. If you must have shrubbery – rather choose plants with thorns like rosebushes. Also, check there isn’t anything that can be used to gain entry – for example using a black municipal bin to climb a wall.
2) Light it up
The better the visibility, the less chance there is of criminals chancing an attack. Ensure that your driveway is well lit. Also, consider adding a motion sensor spotlight to one or more areas in your driveway. These spotlights are available at most hardware stores and are both inexpensive and easy to install.
3) Automate your gate:
A manual gate is a liability. You are vulnerable when you are opening or closing your gate. Upgrade to the best automatic gate you can afford. The faster your gate is able to respond, the better your chances of thwarting criminals. Automatic gates don’t come cheap though, and the more powerful they are the more they cost. You can expect to pay upwards of R3000 for a standard automatic gate, with added labour costs if you have a professional do the installation. If you cannot afford to automate your gate, at least have someone open your manual gate for you when you arrive home.
4) Upgrade your doorbell:
Invest in a video-enabled doorbell. They are surprisingly cheap and easy to install. The ability to see who is at the gate is priceless. Some criminals will ring the doorbell merely to check who is home and perhaps have a look inside when you open your door.
5) Add some signage
Even if you don’t have a pet pit-bull, having a potential intruder believe so is advantageous. Signposting the fact that you have a large dog and an alarm system is well worth the minimal effort and expense.
6) Mirror mirror:
The SAPS recommends putting up a mirror in your garage to allow you to see if someone is following you. This is a simple, cheap measure to increase your safety when arriving home.
7) Consider a CCTV camera, or fake it:
The mere presence of a security camera is enough to deter criminals. Even if it isn’t real. And fakes are surprisingly convincing these days, some even have a red light. If you cannot afford the real deal, you can set up a convincing fake for next to nothing.
8) Get your security company involved in your homecoming:
Check if your security company offers a meet and greet. In some areas, you can have a guard accompany you and check that you are safely inside, as part of your monthly fee or for a small extra amount.
9) Consider a driveway makeover
Gravel driveways or pathways make a noise that act as a deterrent for criminals. If you can add a gravel feature to your landscaping around the driveway it will give you yet another layer of security.
10) Employ common sense
All the driveway safety tweaks in the world won’t help if you are distracted when moving in and out of your driveway. The SAPS recommends switching into “going home mode” once you are 2km from your home. This includes turning off your music, and checking your street for suspicious cars or people. Reversing into your driveway is another manoeuvre that will give you an advantage if you are ambushed. Remain vigilant and trust your gut instinct if something seems suspicious.
To be attacked in your own driveway is exceptionally traumatic. Take all the steps you can to ensure you do not become another statistic. If you want to learn more about preventing hijacking, the National Hijack Academy offers courses that will help you stay safe in your car and in your driveway.