*Fences and gates for Security*
By: Goshin
22 May 2003

Many homes have chainlink fences for security purposes - but how secure are they? For the most part, not at all.

The typical suburban chainlink fence is four or five feet high, with metal upright posts and metal crossbars. Any agile person can easily grab the lateral bar, especially near an upright, and hop right over.

Chainlink can be installed with the sharp points up, or down. Sharp points *up* is more of a deterrent against the very-casual trespasser, but a dexterious or clever person can easily hop the fence anyway with careful hand-placement, or by tossing a jacket over the sharp points as protection.

Some homes, especially in subsidized housing developments (high crime rate), will be seen with chainlink fence with NO lateral bars...this is to impede attempts to hop the fence. They will have the sharp points up, and the caps will be left off the uprights to prevent using them for vaulting the fence. This IS a major impediment to simply hopping the fence, but it also makes the fence itself less sturdy; a serious intruder could grab the fence and rip it downward off the uprights, or push in/up to create a "crawl under" space.

Serious fencing should be at least six feet tall, preferrably taller, and have triple-strand barbed wire on angled supports. This will deter most intruders from attempting to climb the fence, but it can still be done. An agile climber, or a stepladder, and a coat or blanket thrown over the barbed wire will provide good access.

"Cyclone" or "Hurricane" fencing, also called "razorwire", topping a chainlink fence is another matter: very very few people want to tangle with the stuff.

Fences can often be manipulated, perhaps along with a little bit of hand-digging, to allow an intruder to crawl under the fence. Metal stakes placed in the ground every 5 to 10 feet and wired to the bottom of the chainlink will help impede this method; but a surer (if less aesthetic) solution would be a roll of cyclone razorwire on the ground just inside the fence.

Hogwire, stranded-barbedwire (like pasture fences), and such are so easily bypassed that they don't qualify as security.

Most chainlink-fence Gates are a joke. The simple U-latch found on most gates can easily be manipulated, bent, or twisted on the bar to open the gate with little noise. Double-gates can be opened, if locked, by simply raising the ground-bar and pushing both gates until the U slips off the other side of the gate. A T-shaped bar, where the crossbar of the T goes UNDER the U-latch, is somewhat more secure - but not very. Also, many gates form easy hop-over spots on a fence that is otherwise difficult to get over.

Serious gates will include barbed wire or razorwire on top, and will have one of the more high-security latches, such as the sliding-bar-in-a-tube variety. A *heavy* chain with a good lock, properly applied (tight!) is just as good, and probably cheaper.

Don't forget that some intruders may come properly equipped, say with wirecutters or boltcutters. No fence or gate is perfect protection.

A military adage to remember is this: "No passive obstacle or barrier will STOP a determined enemy, only delay him; unless the barrier is actively defended."

A good way to apply this adage to your security fence would be to have TWO dogs inside. Why *two*? Plenty of intruders who would chance being able to kill a single dog with a silent weapon (such as a club) won't tangle with a *pair* of dogs; Dobermans and German Shepards are especially feared. They don't have to be attack-trained, just fairly large and aggressive barkers: ie "threat dogs". If an intruder comes upon a difficult security fence, one that isn't easily crossed, with two or more aggressive-acting dogs on the other side, he will almost always seek easier prey. His thought process will be: "Its going to be hard enough to get over/under/through this fence, without TWO dogs trying to bite me while I'm doing it, and THEN the fence will make a quick getaway hard if I run into too much trouble on the other side."

Add alarms and/or cameras, and a homeowner who is armed and alert, and you're as close to real security as a suburbanite homeowner can realistically get ;)

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