Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Home Security Question‏

Hi Ferfal,


LOVE the blog, thanks for having it.


I have a question on home security. Right now in the US having bars

on the windows in suburbia land will instantly label you the local nut

job. So I'm trying to be creative. What do you think of using

bouganvillia and firethorn bushes instead? I just bought some to put

under the windows and to start growing along the privacy fences.


In your experience, are they as effective as bars or at least a good

enough substitute?


Also, are you neighbors close to you? My neighbors can easily see

over the fence and see the gardens I'm building. My thought is to go

the extra step of really bonding with them, offering to teach them

gardening, etc. I figure it's better to make friends than worry about

them as well. Again, thoughts?


Thanks again for providing real world experience to refer to vs. the

zombie biker gangs!

Hi Tina,
Yes, my neighbors are close. That’s the way it is in Buenos Aires where houses are directly one next to the other and the garden are usually upfront and in the back yard. This isn’t very nice but the truth is that it is much safer and makes sense from a strategic point of view, forming a ring around the block. Kids can play safely in the back yards of the different houses. Of course, you guys don’t have this kind of crime problem, at least not spread all over the country.

The thorny plants under the window works but not nearly as good as actual burglar bars. Burglar bars can be made so as to look a bit (just a bit) less nutty when they are well designed. For example white, horizontal ones  tend to look ok in modern houses. Black ones with a bit more detail (iron artist pieces can sometimes be soldered into them) look well in traditional homes. 

The plants are better than nothing, but burglar bars they are not. Now on the other hand, thorny plants placed all along the perimeter fence and allowed to grow to a nice thickness, THAT I know to work better. You need both a couple feet worth of thickness and 5 to 6 feet high. No need to let it grow wild. Properly kept and trimmed natural barriers tend to get stronger, ticker and do the intended role very well.
On the meantime while these grow along you privacy fence, plant those under the windows as you said. Every little bit helps.

Another trick you might use is using crushed stone for the patios and paths around the house’s perimeter. These make a good amount of noise when people walk on them and this work well when combined with dogs that have a keen sense of haring. Obviously it makes it more likely to be detected by people as well. Combine this with motion sensing lights and the intruder will feel pretty exposed; making noise with each step, a light going on as he approaches.
Just a few tips to keep in mind, thanks for your email!



Evan said...

Leaving horticulture aside, as I don't have a green thumb and hate trimming stuff, Tina might consider security window films. They're not cheap to have installed but can serve nearly the same purpose as burglar bars without any obvious visual indicators to upset the neighbors.

Anonymous said...

Years ago I borrowed a book from a public library whose subject was security landscaping. That inspired me to check on Amazon to see if a used copy could be purcjased cheaply there. What I found instead looks much better;

"Security and Site Design: A Landscape Architectural Approach to Analysis, Assessment and Design Implementation"

I looked at the inside preview and I like what I saw.

Eric in Michigan

Shambhala said...

Burglar bars all around the front are standard in Nicaragua.

I would feel my family would be insecure if they didnt have such a first line of defense.

Fortunately I do not have a HOA, so I can put up bars whenever I can afford them (Denver)

CapnRick said...

In the US embassy in Bogota, a commercial officer told me he had to have burglar bars installed on his 3rd floor air conditioner. It seems the crooks got entry to the neighbor's apartment above his and were able to climb down ropes to remove his a/c and enter thru the hole. Once inside, they cleaned him out, brazenly loading everything out the front door, down the elevator, etc.

Don't forget the chimny when deciding how to entry-proof your home. Thieves use tiny children lowere on ropes to enter that way. Once inside, they can open the doors for the big boys.

Wabano said...

Remember about dogs, when they get older, they get hard of hearing,
but they will train the young ones wonderfully.Those can hear a squirrel coming on the telephone wire three houses away!

Plexiglass is unbreakable and actually cheaper that vitreous windows.

Barred windows cannot match good security.

I remember watching security guards at Isla Verde in Porto Rico grab a bum driving a jalopy shirtless, toss him in their trunk
and go dump him in his favela.

Nobody driving a junk car bare chested in a tourist area can have any good intentions!

Anonymous said...

Years ago, I had an apartment with interior security bars that could collapse and slide to the side if you wanted an unobstructed view out the window. Curtains or venetian blinds could be put in between the bars and the window, so from the outside, no bars were visible. I'm not sure if these bars are still being made today.

Anonymous said...

i didnt want people to see burglar bars (maybe i have something to steal) on the outside of the window...so i installed the bars on the inside of the house. they hinged and locked to cover the window. someone could still break the window but couldnt get any further....safer for fires also.....

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there's burglar bars that go behind the window?

I, and I'm sure everyone always have a white lacey curtain on my windows which makes it almost impossible for others outside to see inside during the day, but allows you to see outside and let's light in. They could obscure quite well your inside burglar bars. (You could have a two curtains. One that obscures the bars from the outside and another from the inside.)

The criminal would break the window, notice you burglar bars and say 'shit' then make a run for it. So you'd be alerted if someone was trying to get in as well as know if people have attempted to break into your home.

A signal to be more wary and perhaps increase your security.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if there's burglar bars that go behind the window?"
Yes, these are called window gates here in NYC. They slide aside so that you can get out in a fire. We generally put a gate on our window that opens onto the fire escape, to discourage burglars. However, regarding "Curtains or venetian blinds could be put in between the bars and the window, so from the outside, no bars were visible."...this probably won't work. Window gates usually take up the entire depth of the window sill. So you would need unusually deep window sills, or unusually thin window gates, to have enough room between the gate and window for a blind or freely moving curtain.

Anna said...

Years ago, I used to design sites for public schools. Here is what we used to do, security-wise.

- nothing beats a solid masonry building with commercial doors, windows, and a hardwired alarm system

- lacking that, the best layout is to have one open access front entrance that is easy to watch, and a gated hidden secondary exit.

- Structural site furnishings and fencing do a lot, especially those designed as vehicle barriers. Something that would require noisy tools to break into. Try these:

- If you have a wall, put protrusions every few feet so that someone can't easily shimmy across the top.

- Water makes a great barrier but can be a liability, so is best avoided.

- Unfortunately, we don't recommend landscape barriers because they can be a hiding place for humans or critters, can die, and are flammable. If planted close to the house, the root system can damage the foundation and the foliage can introduce pests and moisture.

- remember to guard your water meter and power box so criminals can't get into those.

Shane and Michelle said...

THat's exactly what i've tried to do. Lovingly encourage and share my ideas on gardening and food storage. NObody wants to hear it. They resent that you're so "negative" or think things may go south for us. Be optimistic...things are looking up, is all you ever hear. And yet, you know who they are going to run to when they can't afford to buy a loaf of bread. What am i suppose to do, let them starve? The parable of the 10 virgins keeps coming to mind.