“If property owners do not take collective action as a neighbourhood community, the affect on everyone’s property values in that neighbourhood could be very negative”, says Cape Town real estate broker, Andre de Villiers from Cape Town.
De Villiers was previously a Neighbourhood Watch Chairperson for a popular Cape Town coastal suburb. “My experience is that there are far too few residents prepared to get involved in neighbourhood security unless there is a dramatic spike in crime or a violent attack. The majority of residents it seems are only too happy to leave the collective security concerns to someone else”.
“As the owner of four real estate offices in Cape Town, I can confirm that buyers are increasingly asking agents for more details about security issues in the neighbourhood of the house they are interested in. The focus on the individual house’s security is correctly seen as something that can be resolved by the buyer, but the area’s reputation and crime statistics are a greater concern, as a buyer knows this will probably be an issue that falls outside their immediate control.”
There is certainly a demand for reliable data but this is not as easy to obtain as some may think. Many smaller incidents are not reported to the police and many private security services treat their information as confidential and many neighbourhood watch groups are understandably concerned that their neighbourhood could suffer if their efficiency in keeping records resulted in a negative message!
“I think any professional estate agent should have some reasonable methodology to answer security questions from buyers objectively about the neighbourhood. We can’t put our head in the sand over this issue and a lack of access to reliable data is certainly a challenge,” said de Villiers.
The message to property owners is to ‘buy in’ to the responsibility of keeping their neighbourhood safe and crime free through collective action, and thereby collecting a ‘collective security dividend’. “Imagine if you will, a pocket of houses that is able to claim and where the seller or agent can statistically show, that the subject area is the safest area in this suburb! If that’s not a great selling feature then, as a real estate professional with over thirty years experience, I am not sure what is!” said de Villiers.
Every day we make mistakes that leave our homes vulnerable to a break-in. A burglar will always choose the easiest target and that’s good news for you – it means you have a lot of influence on whether you become a victim or not.
Hiding keys by doorways – leaving keys near door ways is very risky as you risk someone duplicating your key and breaking in whenever they want.
Leaving out mail – an overflowing mailbox is a good sign that no one is home as well as it allows criminals to steal your mail and gain personal information.
Open windows – windows are often the easiest entry point for burglars to access your home as doors can be sturdy and deadlocked.
Leaving valuables in sight – valuables should be left out sight so that burglars and stored away as expensive items signal that you have money and is a clear indicator to a burglar that your home is worth targeting.
No visible security – securing your home with burglar bars and visible security measures is a huge deterrent to burglars.
Not maintaining your yard – a messy yard is a signal to a burglar that you are an easy target as untrimmed trees and hedges make for potential hiding places.
Updating social media – avoid using social media to let strangers know your whereabouts as you never know who is following you online.
A lifeless home – leaving lights and the TV / Radio on a timer can signal to a burglar that someone is home.
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The Kirstenhof Crime Watch camera on the corner of Lente and Tokai Roads, has already played an integral part in the arrests of suspects in incidents of crime and to support the expansion drive of the KCW, Chas Everitt has as a committed local business and indeed a commercial resident in the area donated a R3000 shortfall to finance an additional camera.
According to Andre de Villiers of Chas Everitt’s Kirstenhof / Tokai office (opposite the BP Garage on Tokai Road) it is crucial that all local businesses assist to the extent they can in these efforts as criminal activity has reached a point in the area where unless addressed it could affect property values negatively.
The efforts of the dedicated and hard working team at KCW are a credit to the area, and we can also be very pleased to have a responsive local police station where there is an excellent relationship with the community.
As estate agents active in the Constantiaberg area we have seen many examples where the community has stood together taken back “their streets” and as criminal activity is brought under control prices swing up again. One of the first questions buyers have today about every property is “what is the crime like in this neighbourhood?” It is thus in the interest of every property and business owner to stand together and take the issue of crime very seriously as it impacts substantially and directly on the asset value of property as well as lifestyles of residents.
The TNCW (Tokai Neighbourhood Crime Watch) will host a public meeting on Thursday 24 July 2014 at the Tokai Community Church, Tokai Road at 07:30pm.
The neighbourhood watch has asked that Tokai residents to bring along friends and neighbours. After the meeting there will be chance to chat over tea or coffee and meet the Tokai Neighbourhood Crime Watch committee.