In some wealthy British suburbs criminals scribble chalk signs outside homes to indicate whether homeowners are wealthy, have already been burgled, or if they have nothing worth stealing.
British Detectives investigating the crimes call the symbols the ‘Da Pinchi Code'.
South Africa has its own ‘Da Pinchi Code’ according to this e-mail circulated by a security company:
Lookout for these ‘marks’ that ‘spotters’ put in place for thieves:
A ‘Z’ painted at a Stop sign means houses in that street are going to be robbed.
A heap of small stones in front of a house indicates the owner has dogs.
Two stones placed alongside each other means two old people live there.
Stones arranged in a row indicate how many people live in the house.
A Coke can on its side shows somebody is home, an upright can - nobody’s home.
A red can or rag means the occupants can defend themselves.
A white sorghum carton open end pointing to a house means it’s targeted for a burglary.
A white plastic bag on the fence signals an easy target.
The neck of a green bottle points in the direction criminals should take.
A blue bag or paper means somebody in the house is prepared to help you ...
The list went on and on, hammering home the point that litter on verges, far from just being an unsightly annoyance, could actually be secret code and a security threat.
Our house is the last in Hillcrest, bordering on a cane farm, surrounded by grassy vacant land, an ideal target for Green Belt Burglars.
Green Belt Burglars are not into martial arts, they’re so called because they use farmlands, forests and undeveloped land to access urban areas to commit theft.
I returned from a walk with my dogs and noticed an arrow scratched on the road outside our gate. Nearby was a small piece of white paper weighted down with two stones. At the top of the road, at the start of the cane break, I found another arrow scratched into the hard clay. A little way along was another scrap of paper weighted with stones. The signs pointed along the cane break to our house.
Exactly what the e-mail warned about - a code.
Taking courage from the fact that I had three large dogs with me, I followed the marks along the cane break, erasing the arrows and removing every last stone and scrap of paper.
It was stupid and risky to go too far into the cane, so I just cleared the cane break leading to our house. Then I scratched new arrows into the ground and placed the papers and stones to indicate three left turns, one after the other. That’d fox them – they’d go round in circles!
They did too.
Only it wasn’t Green Belt Burglars who ended up sweating, flustered, cursing and lost in the cane - it was members of our sports club running a cross country race, following a paper trail laid the day before.