Crime in South Africa
CRIMINALS do not like surprises and prefer striking when their victims are home. These are just some of the scary realities contained in the book Home Invasion penned by a senior lecturer at the University of South Africa’s College of Law, Professor Rudolph Zinn.
The book, which hit the shelves a while ago, shares the former cop’s insights into the criminal mind and shows how to avoid becoming a victim.
The book was inspired by a report – after two years of research into criminal activity – for the Institute for Security Studies. The research focused mainly on house robbers, and spells out the dos and don’ts when victims find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation.
In the book, Zinn tells how suspects can spend months surveying properties of their would-be victims – spending nights in yards watching their every move.
When the thugs have enough “intel”, they pounce – but most commonly when the victims are home.
“They know that when the victims are inside, they can be made to assist them disarming alarms and giving safe codes where cash or jewellery are kept.
“If there is no one inside the house, they feel vulnerable as they could be surprised by owners or security companies.”
Zinn’s knowledge of the criminal psyche comes after extensive interviews with 30 convicted house robbers in the Gauteng area.
All the robbers told him they wanted their victims to “behave” when they were looting houses.
“I can’t say robbers are friendly, but they don’t like surprises. They like victims to co-operate when they are doing their job.
“Surprisingly they even give tips on how victims should behave when confronted,” said Zinn.
“Time is money with the criminals and the minute there is a delay they can be easily caught.”
Talking about why some are likely to turn to a life of crime, Zinn said unemployment played a big role.
“Some say they treat what they are doing as a career as they are supporting their families with the money they get, or in some cases they are doing this to send their siblings to school.”
On the topic of farm robberies, Zinn said in some cases criminals would do piece jobs to get onto the property and would rely on inside information from farm workers. There they would observe proceedings to get information like when money is taken to banks, or when the farm owner has money to pay wages to employees.
Zinn said what was important to understand was that criminals do not only target white residents and that anyone was vulnerable.
“They don’t care what the colour of your skin is. If you’ve displayed what they want, you are next. So to me, it’s a myth to say that they are targeting only the white community,” he said, stressing the importance of a neighbourhood watch.
“People must be vigilant. They must make sure they read the tips that are given and always report any suspicious things. The book will be very helpful.”