While Ho Chi Minh City is a comfortable and relatively safe place to live for expatriates, the growing pains of a developing economy cannot be ignored. Like any place with a large income disparity, Ho Chi Minh City is not immune to the types of crime that occur in these areas, especially break-ins. With planning and awareness, these problems can be avoided.
Apartments no doubt offer the lowest security risk amongst the different types of properties in Ho Chi Minh City. All higher end apartment complexes will have 24 hour security staff as well as CCTV monitoring the property at all hours and many also have security features that limit access to the property only to residents and permitted guests. Within certain housing compounds, the same type of security features can be found while within other housing compounds the security features may not be as extensive.
Inspection Before Renting
Once you have narrowed down your choices of rental properties, it is now time to evaluate the safety risks associated with each property.
A few things to look for when renting a house:
- Does the property come equipped with a security system?
- Is the property located next to an empty lot, utility poles or trees which might be used by intruders to gain access?
- Are there any nearby construction sites which may have dozens of workers that may be able to gain easy access to your property?
- Are the perimeter walls of the property a sufficient height to deter thieves?
- Is their lighting sufficient enough to illuminate all areas of the property?
Security Improvement Requests to your Landlord
While there are certain conditions and situations that are out of your landlord’s control, such as empty adjacent lots or nearby construction, the following requests for improved security may be accomodated:
- Installation of security systems
- Improving barriers around the property which may include raising the height of the existing wall or installing razor wire along the top of the wall.
If your landlord is reluctant to meet these requests due to financial considerations, it might be a good idea to offer to share the cost of the security improvement with the landlord. A minor investment can not only provide improved security but also piece of mind in regards to the safety of your family.
When installing a security system, be sure to look for the following features:
- Back up power
- Automatic dial to all relevant agencies in the event of an intrusion
- Multiple protection modes that allow the system to be armed while occupants are in the house without activating.
- Scheduled user codes that are given to domestic helpers and only active at certain times of the day
- Separate self-protected sirens with individual batteries
Be sure to test your alarm on regular basis to ensure that it is working properly.
Purchasing content insurance while in Vietnam ensures that your items of value are covered in the event of theft. Several local and international insurance companies in Ho Chi Minh City offer these insurance packages. In general, Vietnamese landlords do not offer to cover damages in the event of theft or natural disaster, nor are they willing to purchase property or tenant insurance.
Lock up and Back up
Stolen electronic devices are easily resold in Vietnam; therefore these items are highly sought after by thieves. There is little chance that thieves will be caught transporting a TV or stereo so be sure to lock all windows and doors. In addition it is also a good idea to lock up valuable items in a safe as well as backing up any computer data that you may have online.
The presence of private security guards is a proven method to help thieves steer clear of your house. However, it is important to be aware that criminals will observe the patterns of your security staff, especially sleeping patterns. It is imperative that you set a no tolerance policy for sleeping security guards from day one. Most burglaries happen when tired guards take a short nap.
Be sure that your staff knows exactly what you expect from them; what his patrol should include, how often he should patrol, and how he should alert you in case of trouble.
Make sure that your household staff understand all security measures that you want implanted within your household such as identifying all callers before opening doors, refusing access to the property to all unauthorized visitors, supervising all visitors closely, and alerting you if they notice any suspicious activity around the premises.
Always conduct a background check on your domestic staff before hiring by asking for references and checking them. Be sure to tell any prospective staff that you will have security cameras installed in all rooms of the house. This will deter any potential candidates with bad intentions.
What to do after an intrusion:
Call the police. This can be a trying experience; however there is always a small chance that they will be able to recover your lost items. Also, by calling them, it reminds them that the neighborhood that is under their watch is unsafe.
The next step is to call your insurance company and report your losses. After that it is a good idea to publicize your experience on groups like An Phu Neighbors in order to warn neighbors to be more vigilant with their security measures.
Finally, review the security measures that you have in place and make any necessary adjustments to prevent an incident from happening again.