Inspired by the birds, one man built a thief-proof house without alarms, electric fencing, or security beams in crime-ridden South Africa, host of the 2010 World Cup.
Cape Town, South Africa
• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
Fed up with being burgled, entrepreneur Jelle Mijlof decided to combat crime by designing and building his own thiefproof house. The result was a curious-looking, goblet-shaped family home with stunning views over Cape Town and something quite rare in South Africa: no alarms, electric fencing, or security beams.
In South Africa’s Western Cape Province, there were 42,920 burglaries at residential properties between April 2008 and March 2009. While neighbors have been robbed during the 10 years since this house was built, Jelle and his wife, Eileen, say they’ve enjoyed a crime-free existence in the Higgovale suburb at the foot of Table Mountain.
Standing in the driveway Eileen says, “As you can see from the design, you’d need to be Spider-Man or a pole-vaulter to get in. It’s like a fortress.”
Jelle came up with the idea after watching squirrels and birds sitting in trees. “They moved around freely and knew they couldn’t be attacked in the safety of the tree. I thought if I could build something similar we’d have a peaceful life.”
The couple say they lost count of the number of times they were burgled at various addresses in Cape Town, including a hotel they once owned, although none were violent.