Many Malaysians will say that gated and guarded (G&G) residences are the obvious solution to crime prevention. Our expert, however, dispels this fact – break-ins can happen just as easily in G&G developments.
One is sure to have his or her personal checklist when making property purchasing decisions. Fantastic facilities? Check. Close to the LRT? Check. Safe and secure? – If you just did a double-take, then you have failed to address one of the most important criteria when buying a home.
Shamir Rajadurai, crime safety specialist comments that times are changing now – with crime rates on the rise, people are no longer just buying homes, they are buying into neighbourhoods instead.
Crime prevention and safety actually transcend beyond guards and gates. Crime is still prevalent in many developments as many developers fail to implement Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). As its name suggests, CPTED is the act of specifically altering the physical design of residential and community areas to include safety features that deter criminal activity.
Here are some key safety features to look out for when purchasing a property:
Tip 1: Study the development’s scale model
The first step in identifying a good and safe neighbourhood is to study the development’s scale model. This will enable you to ascertain whether CPTED is implemented in the neighbourhood. When implemented properly, it allows for natural surveillance, or “the eyes on the street” concept, where residents are able to look out for themselves and for one another.
Open areas in the neighbourhood, playgrounds especially should not be obstructed by huge bushes or trees so that the occupants of the houses surrounding it can always have a view of the activities there. Source: GIPHY
1) Are there walkways present? If yes, are they efficient in preventing snatch-theft crime? An exemplary walkway will have an obstruction such as bushes or a bar against oncoming traffic.
2) Check out the lighting features – Are there enough streetlights to illuminate the pathways?
All these structures play an important part in deterring crimes such as break-ins and stolen vehicles, as it inhibits criminals from making a move. Just as how unhygienic conditions breeds pests, similarly, subpar environments can encourage criminal intentions.
Tip 2: Are secondary safety measures satisfactory?
Secondary safety measures mainly consist of the security provided by security guards. Among the points to ponder are:
1) Are the security guards well trained and can they communicate in a common language?
This is essential especially during emergencies where residents require assistance.
2)The guardhouse at entry and exit points is another important feature. Is there a proper structure for a guardhouse and a functioning boom gate in place? (as shown in the image below).
Property buyers should carry out a trial run themselves to check out whether the neighbourhood’s guards are vigilant in screening those who enter and exit the neighbourhood and in deterring unsavoury behaviour.
Tip 3: Is there CCTV surveillance in place?
CCTV cameras are an important feature in preventing crime as they help authorities to identify and take action on the perpetrator if the crime were to happen. What is important however is the quality, positioning and functionality of the surveillance cameras. Are the CCTV’s working or are just there for show?
As a crime safety specialist, Shamir has come across numerous cases where the authorities are unable to take the necessary action for crimes occurring in places such as elevators and staircases, as the CCTV footage obtained was either of terrible quality or not working at all. He stressed that residents should ensure that the surveillance equipment is not mere ‘white elephants’ but are of top quality and functioning at all times.
Tip 4: Are there emergency units nearby?
Besides taking amenities into consideration such as shops and schools, property buyers should determine the accessibility to emergency units such as the police station and fire departments. Having them close by in this time of day is especially important for one’s safety.
Having a neighbourhood patrol unit (Rukun Tetangga) is an added advantage as this endeavour encourages a close-knit community, which goes a long way in preventing break-ins and stolen vehicles.
Tip 5: Ascertain whether proper fencing is used
Property buyers should also take note of the fencing lining the external perimeter of the neighbourhood, which is the first line of defence against crime. Is proper fencing used and is it in good condition? Several developers may scrimp on costs and settle for regular wire fencing, which is easily compromised.
Ideal fencing would be made of sturdy material and stand at a height of 8 feet. Also, the design of the fencing should not allow for any footholds, to render climbing impossible.
1) Prospective buyers must ensure that the management pays attention to aspects such as cleanliness, faulty facilities, vacant units and overall maintenance of the property.
2) Purchasers should not hesitate to question developers on the make-up of the neighbourhood and what safety measures are in place after all security is part of what they are paying for.