By Evie Andreou
FAMILIES are increasingly hiring the services of private guards from security companies to prevent any potential perpetrators from burgling their homes while they are out at family or other events, security companies say.
Andreas Kyriacou from Nicosia, who got married last year, paid €250 to hire licensed security staff from a company to guard both his parents’ and his in-laws’ houses during his wedding ceremony and party. During their absence he was told by one guard that he had chased a man who tried to enter his parents’ back yard by jumping from the neighbour’s fence.
“What if I hadn’t brought people to guard the houses?” he said. Kyriacou said he was willing to pay because two weeks prior to his own wedding, two other houses were broken into on their families’ wedding nights.
“No one is at home, and usually the neighbours are at the wedding too, so the neighbourhood is empty; easy target,” Kyriacou said.
The last few years, break-ins at homes when the owners are away at their own or their children’s wedding parties are increasing.
“There has been a general increase in thefts the last year, due to the economic crisis and high unemployment levels,” according to Yiannos Argyrou, managing director of security company G4S, and chairman of the Cyprus Security Association.
“Especially this last year, we receive requests every week from people wanting to place guards outside their properties to keep an eye while they are away at an important family event,” said Elli Nicolaidou, managing director of Ilarchos Security.
Since money is the traditional wedding gift in Cyprus, and sums can reach thousands, the homes of newly-weds, or their parents are often targeted by thieves.
Wedding announcements in newspapers and the Cypriot habit of printing and distributing thousands of invitations are the source of information for potential thieves, both Argyrou and Nicolaidou said.
The guards usually arrive at the home little before the family departs for the church or wedding venue and leave when the owners return home.
“There is great insecurity with all the thefts that have been taking place so people want to make sure their properties are safe,” Argyrou said.
Costs for hiring guards depend on how many will be needed and for how long, but Argyrou said that the cost of hiring guards or even installing basic alarm systems are far less than the emotional and material damage caused by break-ins.
“Since thieves break doors or windows to enter the house there is also the emotional distress and insecurity people face after their house is burgled; there are cases when objects with sentimental value are stolen and are simply irreplaceable,” Argyrou said. He added that there had also been increased demand for installing basic alarm systems.
“Technology has advanced and prices have fallen, so they are more accessible,” Argyrou said.
Always lock doors and never leave the keys on the inside of the door. A light should be left on in the house.
Cooperate with neighbours you trust so that if they see anything suspicious they can inform the police.
Money and valuables must be safely stored so that in the case of a break-in, thieves don’t find them.