How secured are you?
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - November 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Safety and Security are top two concerns of multinational corporations whenever they assign or deploy executives and their families abroad. Whenever possible the larger corporations actually have security consultants on the ground who assess safety and security and provide guidelines and suggestions that cover choice of residence, proximity to hospitals, schools, fire department, police station, screening of household help, drivers etc. The presumption of these security consultants is that when their client is placed in an exclusive village within Metro Manila such as Forbes Park, Dasmariñas, Corinthians and other gated and guarded communities such as the Valle Verde group of villages, the security factor increases exponentially. In one case, a security consultant even advised their client that there was no need to hire their own guard because such gated and guarded communities are very secure. No, they are not! Especially during the pre-Christmas month or weeks where there is a historical rise in burglary and theft because there is an emotional and economic pressure to make Christmas meaningful even for the criminally inclined.

Just this week, a friend of mine discovered their home in North Forbes broken into right after the children and the nanny had gone to bed while the parents were still at work because of the time difference. The thief was very selective and only took small or light but high value items such as jewelry and electronics. Instinctively people would say it was an inside job because North Forbes is a gated and guarded community where security conducts patrols on the hour. But the inside job angle was quickly discarded when a couple of neighbors stepped out to say that their homes were also broken into. It seems that the burglar methodically robbed a cluster of homes along Cambridge Circle without anybody realizing the robberies until past midnight or the next morning. When word got out, a number of expats talked about a similar robbery in one of the Valle Verde Villages while others confirmed that similar incidents have happened in gated and guarded communities very recently. If you live in such places where they charge you for security such as villages and condominiums, it might be a good idea to check if the association has an insurance policy to cover any losses resulting in a break-in or lapse in security.

The point to this article is to warn people not to have a false sense of security just because you live in a gated and guarded community or even a condominium complex. As high as the gates of private villages may be, they can’t prevent determined thieves from scaling a wall. In the fighting cock farms I know of, there are stories of thieves tunneling under concrete walls or going through drainage canals. People often talk about a different form of “inside job”, where robberies and rape have been perpetuated by outsiders doing construction jobs inside a village. It has happened quite often to the point that many villages and neighborhood associations have banned or prevented builders and contractors from allowing more than one stay-in worker at a construction site. Don’t assume that your neighborhood association or village association can cover you 24/7 because many of them also have lives to live. Also be conscious of people coming into your homes for repairs or deliveries such as LPG tanks, water and the likes. Every time this happens we make it a point to show the delivery or service people that we have BIG dogs and that there are people in the house just to discourage anyone having bright ideas of home invasions.

Another mistaken notion of people is that CCTVs will help. Sorry, but unless you have someone monitoring or watching the cameras or you have CCTVs that is triggered by heat signatures and infra-red, chances are the only good you can hope for is to get a picture of the burglar. When my wife lost her bag to a thief in a restaurant in Makati, they got it on CCTV but nothing came out of it, and the same gang stole more bags from foreigners in other restaurants the rest of that year. I heard that a CCTV camera caught the thief in North Forbes but that will only be useful if the Makati police actually go out of their way to hunt down the thief who was obviously a pro. Yes the cops can find the guy IF they want to!

As word about these pre-Christmas break-ins went around the expat communities, a number of women expressed a sense of vulnerability and fear for the safety of their children. It is a serious concern that we should all keep in mind. I told my friend that this sort of thing is the reason why many Filipinos keep dogs at home. I love our Great Danes because they are such babies, but you wouldn’t want to come across one of them in the dark. I have seen grown men piss in their pants when challenged by my territorial Alpha dog. A pleasant discovery is our Belgian Mallinois. They are superb security dogs, are sweet as can be and easy to maintain. They also eat less than guards and alalays. Aside from keeping guard dogs that can also watch over the kids at night, make sure you have a good quality safe, not just for cash and jewelries but also one that is fireproof where you can keep all your birth certificates, land titles, precious photos, even car registrations. If you want a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, start by protecting your territory and securing your home.

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