For most of us, the Christmas holidays are a time for giving and sharing. But beware, for others it’s also the perfect time for taking.

Why do crime rates increase over the festive season?

In the case of house burglaries, which increase by around 8% during December, the opportunity is greater when people are away at work or on holiday. House robberies are also more likely to occur over the December holidays because people tend to let their guard down and spend more time outside relaxing with their doors open.

Many businesses close during the festive season and many households visit holiday destinations or gather at rural homesteads. This means that many of the high-risk areas may become low-risk and areas that are ‘sleepy hollows’ most of the year may become more high-risk over the December holiday period.
During the festive season, holidaymakers, visitors and those staying at home should remain vigilant. It is a good idea to discuss the neighbourhood crime situation with the local police, private security companies and community policing structures. Many suburbs now also have What’s App group chats to keep neighbours and friends alert to any dangers.

Give yourself more peace of mind
While you’re out queuing for last minute gifts, buying more beers for the braai or out partying with buddies, remember to keep in mind these basic Christmas safety tips.
Lock everything: This seems obvious, but more often than you would expect a burglar gets into a house just because something was left open or unlocked, especially with house guests visiting who may not have keys.

Secure valuables: Never leave anything of value out in plain sight. If you have not already done so, now may be a good time to consider placing any jewelry, extra cash or other valuables in a safe deposit box or even a secure hidden safe within the house. Nothing should ever be visible from any window and the master bedroom is the first room any intruder will check for valuables.
Control your social status: Though you might be tempted to broadcast to the world about how excited you are for your holiday travels or last minute Christmas shopping sprees, resist the urge to broadcast to the whole world that you are not going to be home. Many people cannot seem to wait to let everyone on Facebook or Twitter know that they are about to leave and this is a dangerous thing to share.
Leave the light on: Not the most eco-friendly advice, but the more it looks like someone is home, the less likely that someone will try to intrude on your home. Keep the lights on, the Christmas lights lit and the TV on. Anything to signify to potential robbers that someone is home. The home automation and smartphone interactive management tools available at many security systems today also allow you to turn your lights on and off throughout the day and night to keep up appearances that someone’s home.
Activate your alarm system: Again, while it may seem obvious, your mind can be distracted by all the festive cheer and you could be in a rush to get out the door. Don’t forget to arm your security system – this simple step will go a long way to protect your home.
Invest in identity protection software: If you shop online a lot, you’re at risk of falling victim to identity theft. So invest in identity protection software. It’s well worth it. You have insurance for your car, health and home so why not have it to protect yourself from being a victim of identity theft too? The cyber risks are growing daily and you’ve worked too hard to have your Christmas bonus and identity stolen.
When in doubt, think like a robber. How would they get in? Does it look like someone is home? Where are your valuables? Sometimes simple common sense makes the most sense.

Road Safety First
With everyone rushing around trying to wrap up their shopping, enjoying festive celebrations or hitting the road to their holiday homes, it’s important to keep road safety top of mind, as the streets are busier and drivers are distracted by their holiday to-do lists.

As depressing as it may sound, according to Arrive Alive (AA), approximately 14 000 people die each year on South Africa’s roads and there is no sign that these figures will decrease in the near future.
A trends analysis of festive season road crashes shows that over the past three years, road accidents spike over the weekends. A deeper analysis shows that several crashes take place between 15h00 and mid-night, and again in the mornings between 04h00 and 07h00.

The Traffic Department anticipates that the weekend of December 16 and the extended Christmas long weekend, as well as the New Year’s Day long week will be particularly challenging and taxing on traffic law enforcement officers.

Travellers are advised to plan their journeys carefully and avoid last minute rushes and late night driving. Routes that pose the highest risks and built up areas, i.e. suburbs, townships and settlements, have been identified for intensified policing to reduce pedestrian and driver fatalities.
The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has identified numerous particularly hazardous routes to take note of this festive season.

These include The N1 spanning Limpopo‚ the Free State and the Western Cape, the R61 in the Eastern Cape‚ the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal‚ the N4 in Mpumalanga and the North West‚ the N11 in Mpumalanga‚ and the N12 in Gauteng‚ the North West and the Western Cape.

The R40‚ N17 and R23 are high accident zones in Mpumalanga‚ along with the R33 in KwaZulu-Natal and N73 in the Eastern Cape. The last two routes on the hazardous list are the N7 in the Western Cape and R102 in KwaZulu-Natal.

According to the RTMC driving under the influence of alcohol, failure to wear a seat-belt, using cell-phones while driving, excessive speeding, disregarding road conditions and signs are some of the driving behaviours that contribute to the high deaths tolls on SA’s roads.

So please use these tips to make sure your festive season on the road is a safe one.
Don’t drink and drive ever
Slow down, there’s no rush
Always buckle up, however short the distance
Watch for – and give way to – emergency vehicles
Obey all road rules
Carry an emergency kit
Pull off and park if you feel tired

Wishing you Happy Holidays from all at RBS and remember to keep your household and vehicle policies updated!