Tidy Up or be Robbed

At least, that’s how the Urban Legend goes… To be exact (and to quote this news story: “The colour of litter, a code for burglars, insurer says”):

In South Africa the colour of the litter on the pavement outside your house could contain clues as to whether your home is being staked out by robbers, according to an insurance firm.

A green object, such as a beer bottle, could be a signal to thieves to ‘go ahead, the coast is clear,’ whereas a red object, such as a Coca-Cola can, could be a sign to ‘steer well clear.’

Now, whether you choose to believe that is up to you. Personally, I think somebody who was upset with the litter in their area decided to ensure people tidied up. And they did it with the world’s best motivation: Fear

The problem is, OUTsurance is quoted as giving the advice to tidy up or be burgled. And I know they’re a pretty modern Insurance Company, but come on, do you SERIOUSLY think they would? Not according to their Head of Communications, Trevor Devitt, who left a comment to this effect on the above news story:

This information is incorrectly reported as expressing the views of OUTsurance. We certainly do not endorse the content.

It was complied from a range of comments and feedback given by members of the public in response to a request for suitable and practical consumer tips on home safety.

The issue of the coloured bottles on the pavement has fast become an urban legend and its factual accuracy is highly questionable.

The issue about bolting ones appliances, while acceptable to some, is extreme and may be both impractical and unsightly. We would never expect any consumer to go to such unreasonable lengths to secure their household items.

Trevor Devitt
Head of Communications
Tel 012 673 3060

So, while we’re at it with these extra special “Safety Tips for living in South Africa“, here’s one for you to take away:

If you stop at the traffic lights and you think the window washer or street vendor has touched the roof of your car, be careful! They might have put chewing gum there. And this will be an indicator to somebody at the next traffic lights that you are a good victim for a smash and grab or a hijacking…

Do you have any other safety Urban Legends?

2 Replies to “Tidy Up or be Robbed”

  1. A story I heard from my rental agent the other day: When staking out a house to loot, burglars often use shoe polish (the kind that’s in a bottle with a little sponge) to mark a garage door of the house they’re watching. Most garage doors have a little round rubber stopper on them to stop them from banging the roof – and the sponge tip of shoe polish has the same shape – so people never notice this..
    Urban legends…

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