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Wary Delhiites turn Big Brothers

Reena Khurana, 31, a marketing manager with a multinational company, lives with her husband and five-year-old son in Saket.

delhi Updated: Jul 30, 2011 23:41 IST
Manoj Sharma

Reena Khurana, 31, a marketing manager with a multinational company, lives with her husband and five-year-old son in Saket.

About two weeks back, when both husband and wife were in office, Khurana’s neighbour called her and told her that her maid had a couple of male visitors who spent half-an-hour in the house.

The next day, Khurana sacked her maid and got CCTV cameras installed in her living room and a bedroom where the couple generally leaves the child with the maid. “I can’t quit my job. I wanted to see what my new maid does while we are in office,” says Khurana.

Khurana is not the only one to have gone in for CCTV cameras. Worried by the rising number of crimes involving domestic helps, Delhiites are now securing their homes by installing all kinds of security systems at home from CCTV cameras, IP cameras to intruder alarm systems.

“Until a couple of years back, we were selling security and safety products only to corporate houses and government establishments. Today I sell a lot them to individuals who are installing security systems at their homes,” says IS Jagdeva, president Asian Professional Security Association (India) and managing director, Turbo Consultancy Services, a company dealing in security devices.

Adds Yogesh Dutta, vice president (security business unit), Aditya Infotech Limited, “Of late, we have been installing CCTV cameras at homes, apartments, villas and farmhouses across the city. In fact, many people are even installing IP cameras to get live images of their homes on their cellphones. NRIs are also installing cameras at their homes to keep a check on the security and welfare of their old parents living in Delhi. The market for home security systems has been rising at 75% per year in the country.”

People are willing to shell out anything between Rs 25,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh on security systems depending on whether they live in a villa or an apartment.

“I installed a video phone at the door, a CCTV in the kitchen and living room, where our maid spends most of her time. It helped me find out how my maid often left my two-year-old son to fend for himself while she watched TV for hours. The whole surveillance system cost me about Rs 30,000 but I feel it is a small price to pay for my peace of mind,” says Rishi Kumar, a Noida resident.

Kunwar Vikram Singh, chairman, Central Association of Private Security Industry, (CAPSI) says after every big crime involving maids or other household servants, he says, there is a dramatic rise in calls from people wanting us to check their domestic staff’s antecedents and install security systems.

“We do about hundred background checks on domestic helps every month and shockingly, in more than 50% of the cases, information given by domestic helps about themselves is false,” says Singh, who also heads Lancers Network, a leading private investigation company.

Ashish Mathur of Delhi-based Trident Investigation Network, says many Delhiites are now approaching him to track their maids’ movements.

“They want us to prepare a report on where she lives, where she goes and who she meets during the day,” he says.

Many in the security industry believe that once every Indian gets it, the Unique Identification Card (UID Card) will go a long way in solving the problem of domestic staff verification, but until then be on your guard.

Domestic staff checks are now a package deal

new delhi: Many companies which have been into background screening of corporate employees, are now also doing background checks on domestic staff such as maids, drivers and cooks.

In fact, there are many start-up background screening companies, too, which provide online services. You just have to fill a form, pay the fee online and you’ll get the ‘background check report’ of your help in a few days.

“We do background checks on domestic helps. We provide services to individuals that were earlier available only to corporates because of cost barriers,” says Amit Chelawat, 36, who started Fact Certifier, an online background screening firm last October. The company’s main focus, he says, is to tap “the huge market for background screening spawned by rising nuclear families dependent on domestic staff”.

Fact Certifier offers various customised packages for background checks, which includes residence check, driving licence check etc. of servants, drivers and other staff.

“There is heightened safety consciousness about domestic hires who have access to your family, property and valuables. People are taking measures like never before to safeguard their family and property,” says Wayne Tollemache, Executive MD, First Advantage, a Florida-based global background screening company.

Similarly, absolutetenantcheck.com, a Gurgaon-based company offers background check on tenants.