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What to Do When Security Gates are Not Enough

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November 10, 2011
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What to Do When Security Gates are Not Enough

Almost everyone has heard the term “gated community” – and quite a few people live in one. Florida has lots of them, and the assumption that goes along with the gate out front is a higher level of security inside, which should translate into more peace of mind. But residents of these often exclusive enclaves are learning the hard way that the presence of a gate does not mean the bad guys are kept at bay. A report from the Sunshine State lays out the facts: as is the case all across the US, when it comes to increased burglar activity, even the gated communities are feeling the pain.

He thought he was safe inside his Parkland gated community. But the full force of Jeffrey Braxton's vulnerability to burglary was driven home with the loss of a family heirloom: a pink piggy bank. "The piggy bank was a gift to my daughter from her grandmother who passed away," he said. "It was a pink pig. They have to take it? It was ridiculous." The case carried a hard lesson: There are chinks in the armor of Fortress America.

Good point. If your home is supposed to be your castle, then today you clearly need a more high-tech moat and drawbridge. The good news is that the advanced technology to deter and detect burglars exists, and it’s very affordable.

More from Florida

In gated communities, enclaves of supposed security for many in South Florida, the gates aren't always enough to stem a rising tide of burglaries. "The gates are symbolic," said Setha Low, professor of environmental psychology at City University of New York. "It is an illusion of security." As if to prove that point, a burglary ring preyed upon at least 10 affluent homes in gated communities in Parkland and Weston, netting more than $100,000 in pilfered items before deputies broke it up early this month.

So What Happened?

Broward Sheriff's Office detectives won't disclose how the gang got past the gates. Despite the occasional flurries of crime, home buyers are drawn to the exclusive neighborhoods. Boca Raton real estate agent Bob Melzer calculates that eight out of 10 of his customers want to live in gated communities and are willing to pay up to 20 percent more to do so. "It's another layer of protection, and older senior citizens feel more secure with the gate," he said.

Is It Really Safer?

But experts say the gates are no surefire barrier against intruders. For example, Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti said the break-ins from the recently busted Parkland-Weston ring fit the pattern of an uptick in burglaries since 2010, including those in gated communities. "It's been happening across the board, as far as the type of residential properties they're breaking into," he said. "In a gated community there is an additional level of security, but by no means does that make you immune from burglary."

Sounds Like the Answer is “No!”

Fort Lauderdale has seen an 18.6 percent increase in residential burglaries in the year that ended in July. The numbers don't differentiate between gated and open communities, and Low, who has studied the issue, said that makes sense. "The statistics inside the gated communities are the same as outside the gated communities," she said. Determined thieves can scale walls high and low, traverse berms or shoulder their way through a hedge line. Sometimes they stroll right past a guard shack. "There are ways to gain entry and still be able to cause problems," said Bob Worthy, secretary of the Alarm Association of Florida, a professional organization. "Gated communities give a false sense of security."

With police patrols being reduced due to budgetary constraints all over the country, families need to do more to protect themselves – even in environments that are supposed to be safer. The best alarm companies work closely with law enforcement to spread the word about how you can deter burglars from targeting your home in the first place. FrontPoint is at the forefront of this effort, and we back up our recommendations with wireless home alarm systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. Unlike most alarm companies, we specialize in cellular monitoring and interactive services, including advanced video features and home automation – one more reason why we are recognized as the #1 ranked home alarm company in the US. Your home really should be your castle, and FrontPoint is ready with the right products and services to help you and yours feel safer.

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