Gate crashing is currently one of the most favourable methods that suspects are using to gain access to properties. Although the number of cases of traditional gate crashing – where suspects use vehicles to smash through gates – is not too significant, the modus operandi of lifting gates off their rails, forcing them open, or breaking the gate motor, is widely used. The Durban North and Umhlanga areas, as well as those in Upper Highway are currently being hard hit by such methods of access.
In the past few months, there have been numerous cases of gate crashing recorded in Durban, both in residential and business robberies, and home invasions. December was particular favourable for forced entry and gate crashing of business properties, particularly during the two-week period over Christmas and New Year, when many businesses closed. However, the modus operandi was also used in residential robberies and break-ins throughout the greater Durban area during December and January. Incidents at both homes and businesses were recorded in Springfield Park, Briardene, Effingham Heights, Seaview, Stamford Hill, Umbilo, New Germany, Morningside, Gillitts, and Kloof. Once the suspects derailed the driveway gates, they more commonly gained entry into homes and businesses by forcing open other doors and gates. These incidents were recorded mostly in the early mornings and early-to late-evenings. The majority of items stolen included computers, electronic items such as TVs and gaming equipment, jewellery, and tools. In February and March, Morningside businesses were under siege by gangs who derailed gates and forced themselves into offices by use of crow bars and bolt cutters, although these business crimes are currently spiking in Springfield Park and Briardene. North Durban suburbs have also seen a spike in break-ins and attempted break-ins in which properties’ main or driveway gates are being derailed or tampered with. Incidents are occurring both during the day and in the evenings. Suspects who do use vehicles to smash through gates are usually driving hired or stolen vehicles, often luxury cars. In addition to suburbs in the Upper Highway and North Durban areas, other areas which have seen gate derailments recently include Glenwood, Durban/Umgeni Road area, Glenmore, Manor Gardens, Bellair, Shallcross, Berea, Morningside, and Westmead.
Gate crashers are often successful because residents, employees, and security companies are only alerted to their presence once they are already in the home or business, or attempting to break in. Therefore it is advised that property owners have alarm sensors fitted to their driveway or main property gates. Such sensors are linked to home or business alarm systems, and will act as a deterrent or early warning system, giving suspects less time to get to the main house or business before police or armed response is alerted. Sensors on driveway gates will also alert residents in the home that someone has, or is attempting to get through their gates, thereby giving them more time to act or call for help. Alarm sensors should also be installed on electric fences as these are often also cut as suspects attempt to gain access to properties. Another recommendation to counteract gate derailments is to have outside beams installed, again to alert people when someone is on the property. There are also ways to avoid the high costs associated with such security measures. Provided the alarm keypad has space for these recommended additional gate or fence sensors (zones), installing extra passives is not expensive. The high costs are associated with the actual running of cables from these sensors to the house. However, if property owners are willing to dig these trenches and run these cables themselves, the costs are cut drastically.