Warning of criminal signs and marks in your neighbourhood


JOHANNESBURG – The police have exposed signs and markings of communication used by criminals to target and terrorise neighbourhoods.

These are the things people take for granted in their front yards or the signs in the streets such as painting, stones alignments, coke tins, shoes, and colours.

All these items, used in specific ways by criminals, communicate information about your security, your home, and your family.

That is why some houses have fallen victim to burglary and housebreaking often. Criminals have been leaving marks or signs that convey information about their weak security.

Signs and markings:

When you see the letter “Z” painted on the road or on a stop sign, houses in the streets are targeted for burglary.

A pile of little stones warns of dogs while two big stones placed together mean that the house is the residence of an old couple.

Stones placed in a row indicate how many people live in the house.

A swastika painted on the road means that the houses in the street are targeted for burglary, while the direction of the word points which house is the exact target.


Red, which could be a coke tin, cloth, or potato crisp packet, indicates that resistance should be expected, while two coke tins indicate that the owner is armed.

A coke tin placed upright means that there is nobody home but when the opening is facing the house, there is someone in the house.

A white plastic bag on the fence means the house is an easy target.

They also dial houses to check if there is somebody home by acting as if they dialled a wrong number.

There are many of these signs and marks the criminals use to communicate information, according to the police. Residents are encouraged to immediately dispose of all possible markers and keep their pavements neat and tidy.

Warning signs of criminals. Markers to look for outside your home.

This morning I received an email from one of our news anchors at work, Michelle Alfreds.
It is supposedly the warning signs to look for to avoid possible house robberies or vehicle theft.

Whether it is all exact, or not, I thought it was worth sharing.
Who knows… It might actually save you from a nasty situation.
Give you and your gang mates hints on how to rob the rest of us.

:) enjoy




Cops warn of signs left by criminals

Durban – The hidden language of criminals who target suburban homes has been translated by police and shared with the public to help stop crimes before they happen.

At a meeting about vagrants and crime held at the Musgrave Library in Glenwood Village on Thursday, the metro police shared a list of signs that had been compiled with the SAPS over several months of attending crime scenes.

Metro police captain Dingaan Motsamai, who gave the presentation, explained how a “Z” painted on a stop sign, piles of stones and strategically placed crisp packets outside gates were signs left by criminals watching a house ahead of a burglary or armed robbery.

The meeting had been about enforcing by-laws and dealing with vagrancy.

Councillors from Durban North, Westville, Yellowwood Park and Glenwood, as well as members of several community policing forums, were present.

They all expressed concern at the vagrant crisis that was spilling into their communities as vagrants and whoonga addicts were chased from the worst areas of the Berea and Warwick Triangle.

Motsamai urged people not to “feed” beggars at traffic lights. The audience agreed the issue was “social” and required a concerted effort from various stakeholders, including the government and NGOs.

Motsamai warned that the use of hidden markers to target homes was on the rise.

The trend was first noticed in 2010 but had died down. Recently, though, police had seen several signs of it again.

“If your dog dies suddenly or vomits, check for black specks in the vomit or for white powder near the dog.

“Please open a case with the police who must give you a case number. You are in danger if your dog suddenly gets sick; criminals will infiltrate (your house),” he said.

“I’m not trying to scare people – it’s reality.”

Glenwood councillor Nicole Graham said people should attend community safety meetings so they could be made aware of criminals’ tactics.

The chairwoman of the Bulwer community safety forum, Heather Hayward Rorick, said residents needed to be aware of crime trends in their areas.

Asked for comment, crime researcher Johan Burger of the Institute for Security Studies said there was a split in opinion about the “modus operandi” described by Motsamai and that he thought it was more prevalent in rural areas.

These are the signs police are warning the public to watch for:

* “Z” painted on a stop sign or on the road – houses in street targeted for burglary.

* Pile of little stones – warns of dogs

* Two big stones together – two old people

* Stones in a row – indicates how many people in the house

* Swastika painted on road – houses in street targeted for burglary.

* Direction of the Swastika indicates which house is the target.

* Coke tin, red cloth, crisp packet etc – can expect resistance.

* 2 Coke tins indicates the owner is armed.

* Coke tin opening towards the house – someone is home.

* Upright Coke tin – nobody home.

* White sorghum carton, plastic bag – easy target.

* Sorghum carton facing towards house – target marked.

* White plastic bag on fence – easy target.

* Green was used as a direction marker.

* The direction that a bottle pointed indicated the direction the criminals should proceed.

* Blue and/or blue and white: Clicks packets, etc – easy target and someone inside will help.

* Simba (or Lays) chip packets were normally neatly folded, but sometimes weighed down by something inside the packet.

* Crisp packet facing the house – owner at home.

* Crisp packet facing the road – no-one home.

* Shoes and soles near or by the gate – no-one home and direction of the shoes indicates the escape route.

* Wrong numbers on your house or cell phone – checking if you are home.

* If electricity is off at the main box be aware of leaving the house open as people inside are targets.

* Sudden strange items in front of a house like a cardboard box, bricks, tree branch – do not stop to remove or you will be a target.

* Brick – normally indicates a car to be stolen.

* Two or three bricks (normally new bricks) – house robbery planned.

* The police advised home-owners to immediately remove and dispose of all markers and to keep pavements neat and tidy. He said the problem would be hard to imagine in urban areas because there are address and criminals could use “GPS” to locate their targets, which was not the case in rural areas.

* Two big stones together – two old people (are home). Stones placed in a row indicated the number of people in the house. Swazika painted on road showed houses in street targeted for burglary and its direction indicating the targeted house.

* A red coke tin, cloth, crisp packet, et cetera warned the attackers to “expect resistance”. Two coke tins warned that the owner was armed.

* The colour black – stock theft

* Poisoning: If a dog dies suddenly or vomits, check for black specks in the vomit or white powder near the dog. Report all dog poisonings to the SAPS who MUST give you a case number.

* Listen to your barking dog.

* Kiewiets (and geese) are excellent watch dogs. They sound the alarm when a human encroaches on their territory. Become aware of their various calls.

How robbers mark your house

A STRAY cool drink can in front of your property could be a potential marker for robbers, according to the Western Cape Provincial Police Board.

The board said criminals using coded markers was a reality, and was not just urban legend.

Frequently e-mails are circulated warning of prospective robbers who put certain items outside houses to indicate whether homeowners are there or not.

Police, however, said that while they were aware of the tactics, there was no evidence to prove they were being used.

But the board said it had seen cases where such items were in front of homes that had been burgled, and warned residents to make sure that their pavements were clean, urging them to remove items which could serve as markers.

An e-mail that recently started circulating says items include an upright Coke can, which means nobody is home.

A pile of stones lets robbers know that there are dogs on the property, and two big stones indicate that two elderly people live in the house.

A blue and white packet, such as a Clicks bag, tells robbers that the homeowner is an easy target and that someone inside the house is willing to help with the robbery.

A white plastic bag stuck on a fence also means that there is an easy target inside the house.

Chip packets are weighed down with items, and one pointing to the house means that the owner is at home.

One facing the road means no one is at home.

A “Z” painted on a stop sign or a swastika painted on the road means houses in the street have been targeted for burglary.

The e-mail also warned that strange items in front of your home could be part of a ploy to trap you – like cardboard boxes, bricks or tree branches.

Do not stop and remove them, you will be a soft target – instead phone the police or your security company.

Hanif Loonat, spokesman for the Western Cape Provincial Police Board, said they had been to homes which had been burgled and found some of these items on the pavements.

Loonat said a Sprite can let robbers know the coast was clear, while a Fanta can was a signal that robbers should exercise caution because it was not clear whether the homeowners were there or not.

He said in some cases vagrants, who appeared to be searching for scrap with their trolleys, were acting as “scouts” and placing the items.

“They are not looking for scrap, that is just a front,” he warned.

Loonat said residents should check their pavements and make sure they were clear.

“We have been to houses after robberies and found these things there. It’s different, sometimes they use bottles to send out messages,” he said.

Police spokesman Colonel Andre Traut said criminals used “creative” methods

, but police had “no record to substantiate this specific method”.

However he said people should be aware of their surroundings and should report any items that seem suspicious.