Estate Security in South Africa Volume 2 – The Primary Threat

In our first article on this topic we discussed several potential threats that compromise estate security in South Africa and offered you some valuable insights on how to mitigate or reduce these. In this article we look at the primary security threat that Estate living faces, that of the insider threat.

Read Volume 1 – Estate Security in South Africa  –  How safe is your estate?

Criminal syndicates continue to target lifestyle estates in South Africa, often using inside information or accomplices within the estate environment to gain access. Unisa’s School of Criminal Justice conducted research into house robberies in South Africa. From in-depth interviews with convicted robbers it was established that 8 out of 10 residential robberies are committed using information from domestic workers, gardeners and other current or former employees.

One of the most common precursors to criminal elements perpetrating crime within an estate, is hostile surveillance with the aid of an insider. This type of collusion generally involves either a resident, their staff or a contractor passing on information, or granting access to an external adversary, which then enables the identification of a target, or determines the ideal time to commit the crime, as well as the ‘tools’ that they will require.

Another, even more dangerous type of “insider threat” that has been employed in some high-profile estates takes the form of criminals actually renting property within the estate, posing as ‘normal’ residents and in doing so, effectively bypassing security.  This provides them with unlimited access to and unlimited movement within the estate at any time, and the opportunity to take their time to identify and take advantage of the relaxed approach to security often found within such estates and the benefit of the doubt granted to residents.

In order to counter this, it is important that prospective tenants are thoroughly vetted before being handed “the keys to the door”.

The Insider – Vetting Workers Entering your Estate

Home Owners, Residents Association and Body Corporates should ensure that they have a protocol in place to vet all temporary workers, domestics and gardeners entering the estate.  At the very least this should include identification authentication and record keeping.
 The supervision of contractors working within an estate is often overlooked due to constraints of security manpower, or simple naivety. The truth is, all contractors, vetted or not, cannot be supervised from the time they enter the estate to the time they leave. We therefore suggest that their access should be restricted to only those areas that are critical to them completing their work and that your security service provider has a supervision protocol in place that includes random spot checks.

This ‘compartmentalisation’ assists in restricting movement, which in turn results in a limited capacity for those with nefarious intentions to conduct hostile surveillance or commit crime within the estate.

The Imposters – Criminals Fronting as Legitimate Entities

One of the first measures that estates can take to limit their exposure to criminal elements impersonating legitimate contractors, is to only use established companies with a track record of providing services of a similar nature in other well-established estates. This includes the selection of a security provider. Established and reputable  companies generally have their own internal controls and pre-employment screening in place, such as criminal background checks, to ensure that their staff are honest and operate with integrity. Estates should request a breakdown from their service providers of what measures they take to ensure that their staff are legitimate and ‘clean’.

Estate managers should also request a register from their service providers with the particulars of each employee that will be working within the estate. This register should include full names, ID numbers, physical addresses as well as an ID copy for cross referencing purposes. And in the case of security vendors, PSIRA registration details of both the company and all of their employees deployed to the estate.

Technology – Using technology as part of the Solution

Bio-metric technology is playing an increasingly greater role in enhancing and personalising access control in estates. These systems allow for user-specific profiles to be created with differing parameters. Estates can ensure that contractors are only permitted access during certain times of the day. They can also enforce the ‘need to go’ rule by limiting access to specific areas of the estate where the work is being conducted.

Most importantly, biometrics mitigate the risk of the credentials (such as access cards or tags) of a legitimate user being lost, stolen or given to and used by an illegitimate user to gain access; as they rely on biological attributes such as fingerprints or retina-scans unique to the individual, to grant or deny access.

Biometrics systems also allow for a full electronic audit-trail of who is on site at any given time, which in turn allows estate managers to ensure that all contractors have vacated the estate at the prescribed time.

NSA Global Guarding Division
 provides location and asset security in an evolving climate of local and regional threats, providing our clients with peace of mind and ensuring operational continuity.

Our services include:

  • Armed and Unarmed Guards
  • Access and Egress Control
  • Perimeter Security
  • Crime Prevention
  • Scheduled and Unscheduled Patrols
  • Stock Monitoring and Prevention of Stock Loss
  • On-site CCTV and Alarm Monitoring
  • Monitoring of BMS and PIDS Systems
  • Supervision of Operation-Critical Areas and Equipment
  • Tactical Response Teams
  • Intelligence-driven Counter-crime Operations
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