Making your Home a Castle Hidden in Plain Sight
Many people do not seek professional advice about home security, because there are many do-it-yourself resources available. This, coupled with a handful of common sense, can get you a long way in home fortification. Let’s talk about how to get these upgrades to work together in a synergistic manner that maintains a low profile but increases your security posture.
I have 15 years of military experience, 12 years of law enforcement experience, and four years of experience providing personal security for top U.S. government and foreign officials. I have traveled the world, working with foreign governments, militaries, and police forces. I want to share with you some of things I’ve learned.
The Three Rings
The first time I ever heard about the “three rings” was from the Israelis. The three rings is not a new concept, and you can Google a lot of information about it. In a nutshell, the three rings refer to three levels of security, each becoming more difficult to breach. For your home, the outer ring would be your perimeter. Your second ring would be the walls of your home, and your inner ring would be a hardened room within the home.
Not all barriers are physical; some barriers are psychological. A combination of physical and psychological barriers is the key to maintaining a low profile while maintaining a high security posture.
The Outer Ring
A lot of people reading this (including myself) would love to have an eight-foot-tall brick wall around their house. Your HOA, city codes, and neighbors may not be happy about it though. A low wall is a barrier, but it can easily be overcome, and having a gate that crosses your driveway is usually very unsightly. The only time I’ve seen driveways that are completely gated are on houses that are either really nice or in the middle of the ghetto. Most of us are somewhere in between. My recommendation is usually a 4-foot white picket fence with a hedgerow behind it. The fence with the hedgerow make a good physical and psychological barrier. People also like it because it usually gives the house a nice look too.
The mistake most people make with this fence-hedgerow perimeter is that they do not bring the fence up the side of the driveway to the walkway. Ideally, you can put a small, lockable gate at this threshold, but at a minimum you need to bring the gate up to the walkway. The purpose of this is to create a point that an intruder/attacker must walk through. This is the point where one of your security cameras will be positioned to get a good view. Ideally still, you will create a fatal funnel that keeps people on the pathway through your combined use of fencing and/or landscaping. Consider hiring a gardener to recommend options as well. If you want a more modern look, you can have boulders and rock brought in to make a barrier that is aesthetically pleasing and functional.
The Back Yard
Do not assume that an intruder will not come from the side or back of your house. Most people pay little attention to the back yard, because the fence in the back is usually a little higher than the front. In most places it is illegal to put barb wire up around your house to keep people from coming over your fence. (This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some available if the SHTF.) You can, however, use environmental design to prevent people from coming over the fence. If it’s not feasible to keep someone off your fence (if they’re really determined), then consider what they are landing on– plants, rocks, boulders, thorn bushes, cactus. Unstable ground is a good deterrent to keep people from coming over. We’ll talk about dogs at the end.
The side gate is a commonly overlooked piece of home fortification. Many people leave their side gates unlocked. It goes without saying that you should lock your side gate. Also, consider getting galvanized trash cans for the side of your house. If someone wants to come to your side gate, then they will have to move the cans out of the way. This is generally a noisy endeavor. The cans can later be filled with water and used as barrier devices if necessary.