Although there are no official statistics regarding crime events in the Helderberg Basin, we spoke to the Secure Rite armed response team regarding their experience over the last nine weeks of lockdown. The Armed Response team was listed as an ‘essential service’ from level 5 which meant that activities around community safety were fortunately permitted.

“It’s been an interesting few weeks as we all adapted to strict hygiene protocols and awareness of physical proximity. It’s safe to say that we did not know what the weeks ahead had in store for us when the lockdown was announced. But here we are, almost 9 weeks have passed, our armed response services have certainly been on the roads, and we have a better view and perspective of crime under lockdown so far “said Herman Ras, Armed Response Manager at Secure Rite.

We asked the Armed Response team and CEO, Craig Austen for insights into crime, from their experience over the last few weeks.

During the first week of the lockdown, was there a decrease in crime when everyone had to stay home?

The first week or so, yes, we saw a general decrease in response call outs and we noted relatively quiet streets during our routine patrols at that time. However, although, we saw an initial decrease in residential break-in activity, we did note a gradual increase in business premises response calls.

As an Armed Response Unit, how would you say crime has changed between now and before the lockdown in the Helderberg Basin?

I believe that we have seen both a change in the nature of crime and the frequency of crime as a whole. Although there is a general decrease in violent crimes, we are seeing a vast increase in opportunistic petty activity.  Examples include motor vehicle theft, theft of tyres, hub caps, car radios etc… We have also seen a gradual increase in muggings and ‘grab and run’ activity mostly in CBDs. I call these ‘economical’ crimes meaning ‘something I do now that can make me money fast’.

It is important to mention also that although initially, residential break-in activity saw a decrease, we have been kept on our feet in response to break-in activity at business premises.

As a whole, crime events, within our records are seeing a rise again, arrests are up and we are on high alert at all times.

Images of recent arrest activity, showing confiscation of weapons and break- in apparatus


Images of recent break-in activity, showing access points



What would you say affects crime statistics in the Helderberg Basin?

Without speculating too much, I will offer my personal opinion as an officer who has worked on the streets and spoken to thousands of victims of crime and criminals themselves, said Herman Ras who added:  I believe that our crime rates are directly related to poverty and unemployment. As poverty and unemployment numbers increase, so will the crime events that we see daily.  It is incredibly sad to see the reality of poverty on our streets and the impact that it has on society as a whole.

My team and I are confronted with this reality daily as we proactively and reactively see to the safety needs of our community and there are often moments in conversation with suspects who are being arrested that really sit with us as we realise the level of poverty and desperation associated with some crime events.

Unfortunately, with the current economic temperature, we expect to see a surge in crime as a whole.

Image of recent arrest activity, showing suspects subdued

What would you say has been one of the more concerning events you have needed to respond to in recent times?

The first one to mention is that we have seen a very big increase in break-in activity at office parks and retail businesses in the Helderberg Basin over the last few weeks. The biggest concern has been the tactical modus operandi of cutting power cables so that the power to the building or office park is out for extended periods of time providing a window to ‘clean out’ valuables.


Images of a recent break-in at business premises

The second concerning trend we are seeing is home burglaries while home owners are physically on the property. Craig, CEO of Secure Rite adds: Remember, there is a difference between a home ‘robbery’ and a home ‘burglary’. A robbery generally takes place when we are not home while a burglary can take place while we are home which, we can all agree, elevates the risk of harm drastically.  Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in home burglary activity while people are home.

Recently, we have noted a few crime instances of burglary where the perpetrators accessed the home in the very early hours of the morning, removed glass panels and gained access to the property.

What security advice would you give to business owners in the Helderberg Basin?

Craig, CEO of Secure Rite helped us with this question. He says: If you own or rent business premises whether in an office park or along a retail street, you absolutely have to assess the security measures you have in place right now. Herman Ras adds: Your security should be layered to cover as many bases as possible.

1. Think Preventative

  • What can you do to discourage break-in temptation?
  • If you have windows, what can be seen by someone looking in?
  • Can valuables be stored away from the premises and out of view?

2. Think Proactive, Perimeter, Deterrents

  • Do you have external, perimeter security that alerts immediately if there is a threat? Examples of this will include features like beams, cameras, electric fencing.
  • How can you make it as difficult as possible for opportunistic thieves to get to your business access points (doors or windows)?

3. Think Reactive, Use the ’what happens if ‘type of mindset …

  • Do you have sensor beams in the correct places inside your business property just in case someone manages to bypass your perimeter measures?
  • Do you have a link up to an armed response service If there is a robbery or burglary event at your business premises office?
  • If you or anyone who works in your business needs help. Are you linked to Armed Response services for onsite support?
  • Do you have access to panic buttons where you may need it most?

At the moment, we have clients who are linked to armed response services while others prefer just an alarm unit. However, it is safe to say that with the frequency of crime activity at businesses, we strongly recommend that business owners re-evaluate their security needs.

What security advice would you give home owners in the Helderberg basin?

  • I would start with the same advice as above, making sure you view your security in layers and not just as an inside alarm system.
  • It is also so important that we do not let our guards down just because we are home. So often, we relax our safety thinking by not locking the back door or leaving windows open, which unfortunately provides access opportunities.
  • With winter on its way, make sure you get your security features assessed before the harsh weather conditions. We often see a spike in criminal activity in winter.
  • Make sure your alarm batteries are serviced and replaced if need be.

As a trusted security partner in the Helderberg basin, we endeavor every day to keep people, families, businesses and properties as safe and guarded as we can. We will continue our work and evolve as crime evolves. Craig, CEO of Secure Rite adds: We have to work together, yes we understand that security features are so easily considered an expense or even a luxury during this time, but when it comes to the safety of lives, our families and our livelihood we work so hard for, security is an investment, not an expense. Also…

To the Secure Rite Family, thank you for your dedication and fearless service to keep our communities safe during these uncertain times. You are valued and we are blessed to have your time, thank you!

Contact Secure Rite Security for all your layered security needs. We have a great team of people who are happy to be of service.

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