There’s a reason why home invasions are the premise of so many horror films. Imagine waking up in the dead of night only to realise that a stranger has gained access into your home, the place where your family is asleep and safe.

There are few words that really capture the true trauma of an event like this. Aside from the atrocious crime, just the mere fact that someone invaded your place of safety and broke that barrier is psychologically damaging enough. “As a father and husband, I never want to feel that sense of panic and helplessness, I do not wish that feeling on my worst enemy,” said Craig Austen, CEO of Secure Rite.

Craig added, “It is also important to mention that the ongoing battle of farm violence and farm murders point very much to ‘home invasion’ being the tactic of choice”.

What is a Home Invasion?

It’s best defined as illegal and usually forceful entry to an occupied, private dwelling. Although one can debate whether or not the perpetrator is intent on harming the house occupants, it does imply either way that the perpetrator is prepared to do whatever necessary to meet their goal.  In many instances, unfortunately, home invasions result in violent crime against the occupants. Home Invasion crimes can include perpetrations of robbery, assault, torture, rape, kidnapping or even murder.

The recent home invasion on our doorstep…

We were shocked and saddened to hear about the Somerset West home invasion incident. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Somerset West family who have experienced this terrible trauma.

An AOL news article revealed the following:

A Somerset West family living in a gated village were attacked and robbed in their home during stormy weather just after midnight on Thursday last week.

The Home owner, a leading medical specialist, is in hospital with a cracked skull after being struck with a crowbar. The armed robbers had tied up another family member before fleeing with personal belongings and an undisclosed amount of cash.

“The family was woken up by a strange noise at 00:30 and upon investigation was confronted by two robbers, both armed. One family member was tied up while a 50-year-old man sustain head injuries during the robbery.

Personal belongings and an undisclosed amount of money were taken. The robbers fled the scene and are yet to be arrested,” said Western Cape police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana.

News24 reported that one of the doctor’s children had been taken by surprise and was tied up. After the doctor’s wife raised the alarm, her husband woke up and came to his family’s aid, but ended up being struck over the head with a crowbar.

It is believed the doctor’s wife was then ordered to take the robbers to the room in which the safe was located and forced to open it.

Police request anyone with more information that can assist with the investigation to contact the investigation officer, Detective Berchille Allies, at 021 8501302.

What stands out about this particular incident?

As investigations around this incident continue, there are some potential patterns and warning signs that can feed our awareness and encourage better prevention behaviour. We asked Secure Rite to help us identify some of these signals:

1. Gated Villages, a false sense of security?

This incident took place in a gated village, begging the question: Do we have a false sense of security if we reside in a centralised security estate?

Secure Rite adds: Remember, security exists in layers and a guarded estate is simply one important layer. Although we believe that Security Estate living does in fact minimise the risk of household crime, however, it certainly does not eradicate it.  Regarding residents, we do believe that there is a generally more relaxed view on personal security in estates. Although some home owners will install an alarm system, oftentimes it is not activated or not linked to an armed response service.

We have even seen some homes without burglar bars which reinforces that sense of security of “it will never happen to me’ mindset. The challenge with this is that opportunistic criminals know this too.

So, what’s the learning here?

  • It’s time to re-assess your personal security needs if you reside in a security estate. Alarm systems, cameras, motion detectors and an active link to armed response support may be some valuable layers to add.
  • Make sure you understand the security protocols within the estate. There may be features available that you can make use of.

2. Stormy Weather

As is characteristic to the Cape Region, cold fronts, rainstorms and whirling winds are just a ‘regular day’ as winter sets in.

“Unfortunately, dismal weather conditions do not keep crime at bay. In fact, we find that crime events actually increase the worse the weather,” said Craig from Secure Rite. He adds, “On a cold, winters night, the sun sets around 5pm and all we think about is getting warm and cozy. Some of us may decide to leave the sensors off because the wind is so bad, some of us may decide to leave the alarm off altogether because we believe that there’s no chance anyone would actually be out in this bad weather.  This mindset, along with those of us who forget to activate the alarm or to lock that access door from the garage, are just some of the critical mistakes we make in bad weather.”

For opportunistic criminals, rain and wind are just the sound shield they need to gain access. Our ears automatically dismiss noises as ‘just the wind’ which means that our peripheral sound awareness is minimised. This is why we don’t hear that window breaking, or that door being pried open.

So, what’s the learning here?

  • Winter does not keep crime away. Get a working, efficient security system outside and inside your home.
  • Consider cameras that allow you to scope the perimeter of your property from your phone.
  • Keep your garden and home perimeter well lit.
  • Assess and reinforce any vulnerable access points into your home.
  • Double check doors and windows. Fix any compromised door or window frames.
  • Ensure indoor sensors are installed well and work strategically around access points.

3. The Crowbar

A crowbar or any other type of prying device is often the tool of choice to break into a residence or a vehicle.

Crowbars are the simplest tool around. They use leverage to multiply the amount of force exerted. Since the end of a crowbar is tapered and meant to shove in small spaces, it becomes easy to hammer it between a door and a frame. The prying and hammering motion will shred or bend a wooden or metal door almost too easily to believe.

The crowbar is also easy to conceal. Smaller crowbars can be hidden in a backpack, and the longer ones usually have a hook at one end, making it easy to hang inside a long coat or pants.

Lastly, and most unfortunate, the crowbar is often used as a brutal weapon. A hit with a crowbar could be life-threatening.

So, what’s the learning here?

  • Reinforce direct access doors and windows with more locks.
  • Ensure you have burglar bars or security gates. This will slow down the process of breaking into your home.
  • Outdoor beams are an important layer, ensure they are positioned strategically around access points.
  • Consider CCTV to keep an active eye of your perimeter and home access points from your phone.
  • Ensure your indoor sensor beams are activated at all times.
  • Get a companion, security dog. As big animal fans, we know that even the smallest dog can alert you to weird sounds. Dogs have an enhanced sense of hearing and smell which means they can be a great added layer of security.

4. Prevention is better than cure

A home invasion is a thought that so many of us simply just avoid. The sheer horror of someone being able to get inside your home while you and your family are relaxing is far too much for the mind to comprehend. So, we just don’t think about it.

So many of us fall into the ‘it won’t happen to me’ mindset and this is often our first mistake. Let’s agree, when it comes to a home invasion, Prevention is definitely better than cure. We need to be proactive in safeguarding against this monstrous crime as much as possible. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye anymore.

So, what’s the learning here?

  • Develop a family protocol and have that tough discussion covering ‘what we do if someone gets into our home’.
  • Keep your phone charged and next to your bed for easy access.
  • If intruders gain access into your home, they may try to disable the alarm by forcing the home owners to answer the response call from their security company. Speak to your security partner about this scenario and what precautions can be put in place.
  • If possible, based on the design on your home, try to have another physical security barrier between bedrooms and common areas. This can be a door or security gate that is locked and secured at night which can be valuable time saver when you need it most.
  • Create a protocol with neighbours or neighbourhood watch. This could include more communication devices like frequency radios or mobile siren units that can be placed outside your window.
  • Train your mind to be calm and act fast in stressful situations. Self- defence training can help with this mindset and it could save lives.
  • If you or your family are placed in a position where you believe that fighting for your life is necessary, consider what this will mean, what this can look like and what would you need to have in place to support such a process if it ever came to this.

5. They got into my house, now what?

If you find yourself and your family facing this scenario, it is important to keep calm and focus only on preserving your life and the lives of the ones you love.

Hopefully, the intruder’s only interest is to get access to valuable items like jewellery, electronics, cash or safe contents without needing to harm anyone. Do not argue or resist. Comply in order to get the perpetrator out of your home as quickly as possible.

Do not challenge or threaten the intruder in any way as this could provoke a violent reaction. This, more often than not, is a situation that you cannot control which is a terrifying thought.

So, what’s the learning here?

  • Have a mobile panic button ready. Understandably, you may not have time to react but it helps knowing that you have one if you need it. This acts independently to your alarm system and will link automatically to your security partner.
  • Have other noise apparatus devices in each room which can be easily tossed outside a window to alert neighbours.
  • Listen, comply and do not resist.
  • Speak clearly.


Although, sad to say, we hope that home invasions come only with an economic motivation, this is not always the case. Some of these crimes have a much more sinister agenda. The results of which can be seen in many of the farm-related crimes. The best we can do is to layer our security as best as possible. Focus on making it a very difficult task for an intruder to gain access to your home and to the people we love.

As trusted Security Partners in the Helderberg Basin, even with over two decades of working in the security space, nothing gets under our skin more than the shock of home invasions. It is a crime that intrudes, breaks and absolutely defies any sentiment of safety because it takes place when we are home. There are so many variables that we cannot control and so many motive or behavioural predictions that we just cannot make when it comes to crime of this nature.

Most unsettling is that the perpetrators of the Somerset West Invasion that took place last week have not been apprehended as yet. We do not know if or when they may strike again which is why we must urge everyone to stay vigilant, aware and take some of the advice in this article. We will be supporting SAPS as far as possible during their investigation. Police request anyone with more information that can assist with the investigation to contact the investigation officer, Detective Berchille Allies, at 021 8501302.

With the current economic climate hitting hard, we suspect that crime will unfortunately continue to rise and we have to consider that the nature of crime could evolve to more brazen attempts to acquire valuables. Helderberg Basin is our home and we will continue the good fight to keep our community as informed, aware and as safe as we can.

We urge our followers, clients, staff and partners to be proactive about safety in these uncertain times.

Contact Secure Rite Security for all your home or business security needs. We offer efficient security consultations, security equipment, armed response services, installations and maintenance all under one roof.

We do security, you do life.

Contact us for all your home and business security needs.
Tel: 0860 10 30 99.
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Article written by Jade Roux, Brand Strategist at She Speaks Brand.