A night’s work

1998

What a night, visiting the site, watching two armed guards play drafts in the cool of the early morning while a third stood in the shadows, shotgun in hand. It was two ‘o’ clock and not even the moon was shining through the dark clouds. The only light nearby flickered on and off under the eaves of a building. The guards sat in the cover of a wall, every now and then looking at the road leading to the gulf. The game was quiet, the night was quiet, we were quiet.

We heard metal black_clouds_darkscraping along the ground, everyone frozen where they stood or sat. A hundred yards away we saw a man open a section of the fence outside the warehouse where Red Stripe beer was stored.

We looked quietly from the dark shadows and down the gulf road – men walking with purpose in single file, slowly, without a sound through the fence, the unknown man holding it open glancing furtively around.

The cool night air was silent, not even a whisper amongst us, hugging the building, still hidden in the dark shadows. I could hear my heart beating…thump, thump, thump.

We could not see if the intruders were carrying, waiting motionless in the dark for the men to come back through the fence. Then a shadow, and more, then movements as the men walked towards the road, each holding two cases of Red Stripe; all of us still secure behind cover, still hugging the wall at the corner of the building. A mongrel dog ran away with a low growl and under a container.

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We called out then for the men to stop. Two men, not holding any cases, turned and moved fast, shooting wild shots at no one, while we still hugged the building in the dark; we fired the shotgun into the air, two explosions booming and echoing through the still night.

The man in the lead started running, not letting go of the cases he held; two men collided with each other and dropped their cases, one falling onto the bottles that had broken, the others stood frozen to the ground, not moving, not letting go of the cases. The man who let them in fled back inside, leaving the open fence as it was. Two more shots fired by the gunmen, but still off target. They were now down the road, catching up with the running man squeezing through the outer fence into the open land we called the gulf.

We walked out slowly, apart, holding firearms on the men who remained. They did not move or speak. No handcuffs but some old frayed rope lying on the ground so we had the men lie down with arms spread and tied them together, waiting for the Police.

Two patrol cars and a van drove up, blue lights disturbing the dark night. The officers pulled the men off the ground, laughing at them tied up while they marched them towards the van with the whack of batons speeding them up.

We went back to playing drafts, laughing, talking… heartbeats back to normal, happy nothing more had happened.

And so we started bringing order & tranquillity to the place.

 

How to secure your property

We all want to feel safe and secure at home and we are bombarded by people selling us intrusion alarm systems, CCTV camera systems, panic alarms, GPS tracking for vehicles etc.

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Not that these systems don’t work – they do, and I have used all of them from time to time. But they can be costly.

So what happens when I can’t afford the installation costs? Or the monthly monitoring costs? 

I still need to secure my family and home. battlements-1239278__180[1]

So this is my own ‘broke man’s guide to good home security’; an easy to read and implement guide to safeguarding your family without any expense.

It’s all about DETER, DETECT AND DELAY. And being AWARE, of your surroundings, your neighbourhood, your personal space

DETER

  • Solid entry points.
  • Good locks.
  • All external doors should open outwards and have strong door jams.
  • Creating the impression that someone is always at home, like leaving your television on, or installing an automatic timer to some of the lights in your house.
  • Keep house and car keys out of sight and away from open windows
  • What about signs? A simple sign telling would be thieves that your home is alarmed or monitored can send them away to find a softer target! Advertise that you have an alarm system, even if you do not.
  • Leaving things lying around your yard (children’s bicycles, hoses, lawnmowers etc) can unwittingly bring thieves onto your property.
  • After purchasing a new flat screen TV/other electronics/appliances, don’t leave the boxes out beside the rubbish bins
  • Don’t hide spare keys outside. Never put any identifying information on your house keys. If you lose them, and someone else finds them, it would be fairly easy to trace them back to your home and break in.keys-and-locks
  • Make sure bushes are trimmed to allow a good view of your home from the street. Thieves look for cover, and a well planned & kept garden denies them that opportunity. Cacti and bougainvillea beneath your windows make access even less attractive. That doesn’t mean you need to cut down every plant in your yard – just keep things manicured.
  • Tall bushes around your house make perfect hiding places for thieves. And trees next to upstairs windows also provide opportunities.

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  • Inspect your fence line periodically. Repair as necessary.
  • ­You ma­y also be showing off too much of the inside of your house. Walk outside & around the house and see what’s visible. If you have a number of expensive items within plain sight or near windows, think about rearranging furniture to move them out of view.
  • And at all times be aware of what is happening around you when you arrive or leave home. take a sense check – whose car is that, why are those men hanging around

DETECT

  • Having a dog or two is not only a great deterrent, it is great detection – a barking dog alerts neighbours that something is wrong, and sends thieves somewhere else! And you do not have to go out and find a huge savage guard dog…a small house pet like a Shih Tzu is a great alarm system. Did you know they were known as ‘Lion Dogs’, were favourites of the Chinese royals and so prized that, for years, the Chinese refused to sell, trade, or give any away.
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Aren’t I cute?

  • Installing motion-sensitive flood lights outdoors will also help to deter burglars ‘working’ at night, though my preference is for night lights that stay on all the time.
  • Neighbourhood Watch groups have a proven track record for lowering crime. Getting to know the people you live around is one of the most important safety steps you can take. Closer-knit neighbourhoods generally report fewer break-ins because strangers will stick out, and people are more likely to keep a casual eye on other people’s security.
  • Although it’s nice to know you have people watching out for you in your neighbourhood, you also need to watch out for yourself. If you aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing, you could unknowingly be inviting a thief inside.
  • Always keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighbourhood. A little added effort can go a long way to protect your home and your safety.

 DELAY

  • Delaying criminals is another important aspect of keeping thieves out. The longer it takes to get into your home, the more likely a burglar is to give up and move on. A four-minute delay will protect your house in most cases.
  • Delaying a burglar includes keeping unusual entry points from being accessible – trees next to a two storey house allow easy access to upstairs. Keep branches trimmed. Cut away any tall tree branches that reach upstairs windows and protect against attacks from above. Regularly trimming larger bushes and tree branches also eliminates dark shadows that help hide intruders
  • Make sure ground floor windows are secure

And don’t forget your locks; none of the other precautions amount to much when your doors or windows are unlocked. You may need to change your locks to stronger ones to keep out would-be burglars. Sometimes the best answer is also the most obvious one. When it comes to keeping burglars out of your house, the basics make the biggest difference.

Educate yourself as well about crime in the area. Find out what’s happening in your neighbourhood. A little added effort can go a long way to protect your family, your home and your safety.

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SAFEGUARDING OUR LADY TRAVELERS

This week is solely for our ladies, and what they should be looking for when traveling. Women have come a long way since the days when they were considered the weaker sex, but the reality remains that they are still physically more vulnerable than their male counterparts when they travel, and they face unique risks.

Criminals, intruders, stalkers, kidnappers and rapists worldwide profile women who are out and about and target the ones who are unaware, unfamiliar with their surroundings, and less likely to fight back.

So how do we minimise those risks?

PLAN TO BE SAFE

  • Safe travel is not a chance event. Preparations play a major role. Think about your security from the start, do your homework.
  • Where are you going? Look at travel advisories and learn as much as you can about the country you are traveling to.
  • Let colleagues know where you are.
  • Choose hotels with a safe and secure history – some hotels have a women only floor that reduces the likelihood of a male attacker lurking outside a door or following you to your room.
  • Select a room when you book between the second and fifth floor. Street level rooms are no good as it provides easier access; rooms above the fifth floor should be avoided, as fire ladders may not reach as high.
  • Rooms should not be at the end of hallways, nor directly across from a stairwell.
  • Accept the services of the bellhop for an escort to your room.
  • What about entering the room? There is a sound 15 second rule – after looking around outside, open the door and jam your suitcase/travel bag in it, turn on all lights, look behind the drapes, in the bathroom, under the bed. This secures the room. Then close and lock the door, putting the security chain in place.
  • What about ordering room service? So many people hear the door knock and open the door, walking back into the room. The correct way is to see who is outside, open the door if it is safe, stand at the open door while the meal is delivered, only closing the door once the waiter has left.
  • What happens if there is an emergency, like a natural disaster? Know in advance who to turn to for help.
  • Taking taxis – ALWAYS use the taxis recommended by the hotel.

CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS

Legal and cultural do’s and don’ts vary widely from region to region, and it is important to have a clear understanding of what is accepted.Learn about the practices in each specific culture beforehand – there are many guidebooks on country culture for international travelers.