Load shedding, which is currently a daily pain in the butt for South Africans, is more than just a major inconvenience – it’s a crime risk too, and has resulted in an increase in home break-ins and vehicle accidents.
Insurer Dialdirect said it has compared the number of burglary incidents and the number of vehicle accidents when there is no load shedding to when there is which was compiled from July 2019 to May 2022. It found that during the week, load shedding resulted in a 3.2% increase in burglaries and a 5.2% increase in vehicle accidents, reports BusinessTech.
According to the insurer, over the weekend, these figures are more than double, increasing the risk of break-ins by 8% and that of vehicle accidents by 13.5%
As we all know, it’s absolute darkness when the street lights are off and traffic lights are down at night. And of course, it comes with dangerous consequences.
“Motorists are encouraged to drive cautiously at all times, but especially so in poorly lit areas. Treat all inoperative traffic lights as a four-way stop, and when in doubt, yield to oncoming traffic from the right. Do not assume that all other drivers will stop so exercise extreme vigilance and drive defensively,” said Anneli Retief, Head of Dialdirect.
Meanwhile, on the home front, when the lights go out, so do the alarm systems, gate motors and electric fencing – making it easier for criminals to gain access to your property and spend longer in it.
“Most insurance policies stipulate in their contracts that the house alarm must be activated at all times when the home is unoccupied. So, if your house is burgled during a power cut, then, theoretically, your theft-related cover would be moot,” Retief said.
Retief expressed her beliefs regarding the disruption of load shedding that it’s beyond the control of their customers and they should not be penalised for it.
“Therefore, each case will be considered based on its own merits,” she added.
Private security firm Fidelity ADT said that with extended power outages, many alarm battery systems are unable to fully recharge which criminals take advantage of. Community policing forums have also reported increased house break-ins, cable theft and generator theft during load shedding.
South Africans are urged to take extra precautions in their homes and on the road to avoid loss and damage to property with the following tips to stay safe:
- Put the proposed load shedding times somewhere handy so that your family has enough time to prepare for the outage.
- Get a few high-wattage solar-powered lights for your garden, and a few LED lights for inside. Light is also a deterrent to would-be burglars.
- Keep your cellphone charged, or invest in a portable phone charger, so that you can still call for help if you need to.
- If you need to manually open and close your gates when you get home, try to have someone come and meet you at your entrance, or arrange for an escort from your security company.
- Use padlocks, burglar bars, and deadbolts to provide an extra level of home security that isn’t power-dependent.
- Alarm systems, garage doors, and electric gates generally rely on electricity so these items have good backup batteries.
- Keep a torch or a solar battery-powered light charged beforehand in multiple, easily accessible locations around your home. Be sure to have plenty of spare batteries.