The human key

Residential Security Handbook 2022: SMART Living Security Services & Risk Management, Residential Estate (Industry)

Andre Mundell.

In security risk assessment, we talk about a ‘human key’. This is the master key to all your safe areas, cash rooms and anywhere you think is safe. It is my belief that 95% of currently installed security measures will not stop a criminal. A key is used to open doors, and the same applies to a human key. The only difference is that the repercussions of a human key are often detrimental.

A News24 video (located at shows the human key in action. It also shows us that security is more than just hardware.

The criminal incident in the video took place in Limpopo on 15 January 2022. When you watch the footage you will see the double door, presumably with bulletproof glass. The office also has video cameras installed, hence the availability of the video clip. Technically, this is a secure room.

Then you will see a lady forced to open the door for the criminals. Three of them come through the door, while the last man is holding someone, possibly the security guard (or human key) as a hostage.

I believe that these criminals told the ladies in the office that they will shoot the guard if they do not open the door. This is what we mean by a ‘human key’. They used the security guard as a key to get into the area where the money is being kept (supposedly) safe.

The problem is that people do not understand the concept of security risk as they should. Even though a lot of money was spent on installing a secure door, bulletproof glass, a camera system and so on, the risk was not eliminated and thus provided the opportunity for a crime.

This also demonstrated a security system that was installed without a security risk assessment. The same type of risk is present at estates or businesses, in fact any properties where the criminals have access to the security guard.

When a criminal has access to someone, I can assure you that even the most advanced security measures will not suffice.

• The human key is not limited to security guards. In a home environment, the human key can be your children, your wife, your mother or your father.

• It can also be an employee, a financial manager, a CEO and even a cleaner. When it comes to corporate entities, these criminals mostly tend to target the more prolific roleplayers such as the CEO, finance personnel, IT employees and so on. The ‘human key’ can be anyone that a criminal has access to and can manipulate, blackmail, hold hostage or otherwise coerce.

A security risk assessment is an in-depth investigation into your current security structure to identify the risks that provide the opportunity for crime. Security risk is where threat and opportunity overlap. Thus, risk is when your property provides an opportunity for a crime to occur.


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