ARMED RESPONSE IS NOT THE ANSWER TO CRIME
Home alarm systems and armed response will not protect residents from the scourge of house burglaries and home invasions expected this holiday season as criminals know the chances of them getting caught in the act are slim.
The only way to stop them carrying out their planned crime sprees is to take them off the streets, security experts have warned.
An elite team of SAPS detectives has already started its holiday crime battle with thorough investigations that lead to the arrest of 830 suspects in only a week. And while the team now has its sights on the 12 most wanted suspects who are being tracked in KZN, Excellerate Security Services has also throw its private investigations unit into the crime-fighting mix, and will be focusing on “old school” sleuth work to track down the gangs.
Anthony Feuilherade, Managing Director at Excellerate Security announced yesterday that “armed response was not the solution to crime”, and that if it was, crime would already be eradicated, especially with the growing number of private security vehicles patrolling the streets. Instead, true community crime fighting was about using highly skilled private investigators to track down the criminals and not only reacting to alarm activations.
“Because armed response always happens after a crime has been committed it stands to reason that it can never be a solution to crime. An alarm system and armed response will always only be able to mitigate your losses.”
He explained that criminals operated on a “risk versus reward calculation” so if they believed the potential gain from the crime outweighed the risk of getting caught, they would commit it anyway.
“The real danger is not the opportunistic criminals that jump the fence to steal washing. The real threat comes from armed and dangerous professional criminal syndicates who invade homes to catch residents at home and increase what they can steal and the time they have to steal it.”
As an example, Feuilherade said criminals demanded residents to open their safes so they could steal their valuables, such as firearms and jewellery. And as they needed time for this, they struck when residents were “relaxing at home” and the alarm was off.
“This pretty much neutralises the effectiveness of the alarm system,” he said.
Another threat to communities – which also negates alarm systems and private security patrols – are “gate-crashing” gangs which operate in often-hijacked vehicles that blended in with those around them.
Excellerate Security’s investigations revealed that the criminals were “so well trained” that they could be in and out of homes in less than three minutes. So by the time armed response arrived, they were long gone.
“Criminals are not stupid. They know that security officers cannot legally stop them and question them. Only the SAPS have those rights. So unless they are behaving very suspiciously they can, and do, operate under the very noses of the many reaction vehicles that patrol our streets.”
And this, Feuilherade emphasised, was why the only way eradicate crime was by way of “good old fashioned sleuth work”.
“Our investigators are largely ex policemen who have built significant informer networks over the years. They have a really good understanding of which criminal syndicates are operating in what areas and at what times.”
However, getting to know who the criminals were and ensuring they were caught and convicted were “two very different issues”, he said.
“It takes time to build a solid case that will hold up in a criminal court and result in a conviction. There is no substitute for good old fashioned sleuth work and piecing together information to connect the various role players to the crimes.
“We also work closely with the local police as well as former senior public prosecutors to ensure the best chance of success.”
Feuilherade emphasised, however, that a home alarm system and armed response was still a sound investment as residents needed the “peace of mind” of knowing that if an incident did occur there was an opportunity to call for help.
Pressing a panic button would also ensure that criminals did not “hang around” for too long.
“But while these resources are absolutely necessary in our communities, they will more than likely only prevent a crime from happening at that particular time. They will not eradicate it by removing the criminals from the equation. Only private investigations that lead to arrests and convictions can do that,” he said.
Feuilherhade explained the recent national Crime Statistics announcement and the brutal shooting of one of the company’s reaction officer were the veritable “last straw” that made Excellerate Security decide that it was time for a change. “It’s been said that if you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got – we came to the conclusion that the way security companies have been operating is simply not working and that it’s time to try something different and so we’re throwing all of our resources at this problem” he said.
He explained that Excellerate Security had intentionally planned their “operational re-launch” to coincide with the onset of the festive season. “Every year crime increases over the Festive season, in fact over this past week there have already been a number of gunfights between criminals and the police” he said. “We decided that there could not be a more appropriate time to enter the market with our new approach to crime prevention – after all, this is the time that the community needs us the most.”
Referring to the new signboards and vehicle branding, Feuilherade explained that the company’s new livery is symbolic for their new approach to business. “We’re no longer traditional armed reaction business so we wanted our signboards and vehicles to be distinctive” he said. “The message to criminals must be clear, choose a house with the big orange warning sign, and know that we’re coming after you!”
call Excellerate Security on 0860 11 00 11 for anything, any time