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Effective and Legal Perimeter Defenses

Monday, 07 January 2013 20:58 Written by 

With so many bad things going on in the world and some very serious concerns that the worst may be yet to come, many of us are of a mind to prepare, or harden, our homes and properties to help us fend off undesirables. But how far can we go legally and / or without upsetting the “balance of the neighborhood” to achieve that goal? Let’s look at what works, what doesn’t work, and what could land us in a whole world of hurt if we cross the line when creating perimeter defenses.

Legal Definition

A perimeter is a boundary line, or the area immediately inside a boundary line. Your property perimeter would be the line separating your property from an adjacent property, as it is described in the legal document of ownership (i.e. deed or title). A perimeter would also be the area just outside, or just inside, the exterior walls that make up your home. 

The Bad News First

Unless you are fortunate enough to live in a renovated missile launch control bunker, your home and property perimeters most likely add little or nothing to your overall safety and security needs. 

The concept of modern home and property (landscape) design revolves around one thing: “Curb Appeal.” Builders and sellers want to grab the attention of prospective buyers. And let’s be honest; most home owners have a certain vanity and want their properties to grab the attention of passersby. Curb appeal may look great, but this eye candy really does not take security issues into consideration.

For example; a split rail fence is an aesthetically pleasing feature that gives a property a “park-like” setting. On the other hand, a chain link fence, though more secure, makes a property appear like a “compound” or a commercial / industrial type of property. Most folks are generally put off by the chain link look so decorative takes the lead over functional.

Another example would be the number of windows around the typical home. On the plus side, windows allow for natural light to flood a home’s interior, and you can open a few for fresh air to circulate. On the negative side, glass windows don’t keep bad guys out, and under certain conditions; windows break and turn into a shrapnel threat against home occupants. But, a home without windows looks like, well… a bunker. 

Other issues around home and property perimeters that can create security problems would include:

1. Trees too close to the dwelling 

2. Too many trees around the property

3. Shrubbery around the outer walls of the dwelling

4. Outbuildings and other large fixtures too close to the dwelling

Let’s examine these one by one and get an understanding of how they present an issue. 

Trees that are too close to the dwelling give bad guys a place to hide, a place to discretely observe from, and a fairly bullet resistant means of cover which includes one to shoot back from. This would also include outbuildings and other large fixtures.

Too many trees around the property not only provide for good hiding places, they also obscure your ability to see around your property. This also applies to outbuildings and other large fixtures.

The problem with having shrubbery along outer walls of the dwelling is that they provide excellent “up close and personal” hiding places for bad guys; obscuring them from view of passersby and watchful neighbors.

Optimally, we don’t want to provide burglars, home invaders, or a post apocalyptic hoard of zombies with all the advantages that will make their plans of doing bad things to us any easier. So what should we do to make life more difficult for the bad guys?

Conducting a Security Analysis

The place to start is by grabbing a pen, a notebook, and a measuring tape then taking a walk around your property. It really does not matter if you live on a postage stamp sized property or have hundreds of acres in all directions; the first thing you have to do is decide where you want to draw a line in the sand.   

Obviously, the smaller your property, the closer your perimeter will be to your home. But, if you have quite a bit of acreage, you will have some flexibility in deciding where your security perimeter will be established. Think of your security perimeter as a line in the sand, or the line that once crossed by an intruder will require some form of action on your part.  

If you have trees that are too close to the house, or between the house and the security perimeter you establish, I recommend cutting them down. This will provide you with a good field of view out to the security perimeter. Dropping the politically correct language, it also provides you with a wider field of fire if shooting becomes necessary to repel armed, hostile invaders. The more open ground intruders have to cross to get to the perimeter of your home, the better your chances of spotting and / or stopping them.

If you have several heavily wooded acres, cut the trees back to the security perimeter then thin out some of the trees beyond that point. I recommend leaving fallen trees lay where they fall to help create an “obstacle course” that will make it that much more difficult for invaders to navigate. With some pre-planning, you can pick trees to fell that will create the obstacles and a more predictable path. Humans are like electricity; they tend to follow a path of least resistance. If you create the path, you will have a better idea where invaders will emerge into the opening of your security perimeter.

As for shrubbery around the home, I feel it has little or no functional value whatsoever. From a tactical standpoint, flat or two tiered flower beds are far superior to shrubs and more aesthetically pleasing. Flower beds generally won’t provide bad guys with close in concealment like shrubs can.

Outbuildings, such as garden sheds, hot houses, and large fixtures like brick and mortar cooking grills or retaining walls may be impractical to remove. So we need to look at ways of making them less useful as cover for intruders. These are locations where shrubberies, especially those varieties that produce huge thorns, get my two thumbs up. Thorns are natural and legal booby traps. 

On The Subject of Booby Traps

Dead falls, leg traps, punji pits, land mines, high voltage electric fences, and other such booby traps capable of causing bodily injury or death, are illegal in the United States. My advice is to avoid the civil and criminal headaches by not entertaining the thought, period. The absolute last thing you need is for a neighbor’s kid to end up the booby in one of your traps.  

Debate the High Tech Options

I am not opposed to installing a few high tech options around the property, like motion sensing floodlights. I just don’t have a lot of faith in high cost items like electronic alarm systems and closed circuit television systems with infrared cameras. The litmus test I usually apply to most purchases of any electronic device or appliance involves necessity over the possibility of a future long term failure of the electrical grid. If I decide that an item is important enough to have now, even though a grid failure could theoretically happen relatively soon and making the purchase a waste of money, then I’ll buy it.

I’m sure there will be some who will rebut my thinking on the matter, especially those who are learned on the subject of alternative energy systems. However, one of my primary objections to electronic security systems revolves around the idea of diverting precious energy resources away from more critical needs should the grid go down. 

Low Tech Is Your Friend

In my opinion, a better way to go, with alarm type systems, is low tech mechanical devices. A trip wire setup that will trigger a blank 12 gauge shotgun shell makes a good intruder detector. Stringing tin cans containing two or three pebbles will also serve to announce invaders entering your security perimeter. Of course, nothing makes a better low tech intruder detector than a dedicated outdoor dog or two. 

As long as we are on the subject of low tech alarm devices, consider hanging tin cans with pebbles and / or metal pie plates around your garden fence. The flashy / noisy action will help keep some of the four legged type scavengers out, plus alert you to the two legged type who may also be looking to loot your garden to the roots.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Wouldn’t there be a fair chance that these alarm devices around the security perimeter might be tripped by animals? In a post SHTF world, I would want to be alerted to the presence of certain critters, especially deer; and I would consider that alarm to be something akin to a dinner bell. 

Closer to Home

The next area of concern is going to be the outside perimeter of the home. If an invader has made it up this close, undetected; this is the last chance to stop them before they start making actual entry into the home.

Again, looking at this under the assumption that we are making our way through a post apocalyptic kind of life style, powering security lights might be impractical or outright counterproductive to your operational security (i.e. attempts to stay out of sight / out of mind). And, as mentioned earlier, this is not the time to get creative either. Carpet nail strips attached to exterior window frames, broken bottles with the jagged ends pointed upward on the ground below windows, four pointed (treble) fishing hooks suspended at face level from the gutters, tipping / falling / swinging jars filled with battery acid or other such booby traps have the potential to bring a world of legal hurt to your doorstep. 

Stick with the low tech noise makers, set up in such a way that it helps identify the approximate location of bad guy interloper(s). This should provide you the opportunity to respond accordingly.

All Bets are Off

The absolute last perimeter is the one just on the inside of your exterior walls. If the intruders haven’t been discovered and repelled by now, you will need a great tactical strategy or one hell of an escape and evade plan.

On a scale of 0 – 5, with 5 being the best, glass windows are a huge goose-egg (about the equivalent of a -0). The larger the window, the more invaders can come through at the same time. And, sliding (patio) glass doors rate right down there with windows. You can replace the standard glass with heavy duty stuff, but you have to replace the window frames as well; (1) to support the heavy window material and (2) window frames rate about a 1 on the security scale.

You can install wrought iron window grates, which will increase the security level to a 4, but your ability to use a window for escape has fallen to -0.

Putting plywood over the windows will rate a 2 for security, but a -0 for visibility and escape.

Tracked steel shutters, mechanical or electro-mechanical, rate a 4 for security and a -0 for visibility. 

I personally believe the best action to take with sliding glass doors is to replace them with a single entry steel door (no glass) with a steel frame and multiple long throw deadbolt locks (a solid 4 on our scale).

French doors, with or without glass, rate about a -1 on the security scale. In my book, French doors deserve the steel door treatment.

Standard steel doors with glass, a wooden frame and a single deadbolt lock rates about a 2. 

Reality Check

By now, you have probably noticed there are not any 5’s listed on the security scale. There really are no 5’s in the average, modern housing market. Unless of course, you are living in one of those missile bunkers, and then you get a +5 and two thumbs up. 

Typical doors, windows, and locks are designed to do one thing… keep honest folks honest. 

For the most part, the majority of security preps are a false sense of security, not peace of mind. 

For every security measure, mechanical or electronic, you put into place; someone has already come up with at least three ways to defeat it. 

Therefore, if someone is seriously intent on entering your home, your only hope is to slow them down enough so that you have the time to react. And your reaction will be based on either fight or flight. So it’s a good idea, while you’re conducting your security analysis, to design a means of escape and evade; especially if you are of a peaceful mindset.

Last modified on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 22:20
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  • Comment Link steveo Thursday, 10 January 2013 13:22 posted by steveo

    With a battery based PV system you wont have to "compromise" in fact your security system will definitely be on the critical power circuits, the blender won't be.

  • Comment Link steveo Thursday, 10 January 2013 13:22 posted by steveo

    With a battery based PV system you wont have to "compromise" in fact your security system will definitely be on the critical power circuits, the blender won't be.

  • Comment Link Mike Wednesday, 16 January 2013 08:06 posted by Mike

    What about strategic plantings of a hedge of holly bushes or rose bushes under the windows or around a perimeter. These are not illegal, They provide beauty and some privacy with the holly bushes. They provide much needed thorns or stickers that no criminal will want to hide in as well :)

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