Schedule Your Appt. NOW
02 Sep

Physical Barriers Provide the Highest Level of Security

“Stop – in the name of the Law!”. How many of you remember some old keystone cops movie where the cops are chasing down a criminal and yelling “stop in the name of the law”? That phrase is generally credited to the COPS – Constables on Patrol – in England back in the early 1800’s. Back then some lore suggests that these early constables were aided by citizens in their pursuit of criminals as they chased them down! We have come a long way since then with highly trained law enforcement, public education and technological advances fighting the criminal element in our society.

As a Crime Prevention Specialist I have the privilege of working with law-enforcement professionals and organizations in an effort to “stop” crime before it ever happens. That is why I am an avid proponent of physical barriers when it comes to crime prevention. That should not come a surprise as we live in a society that generally accepts “barriers” in just about anything we do. Ever notice, people will stand in line at a bank, amusement park, etc. and stay within the maze of colored ropes or chain that keeps us in order? What about the traffic cop that causes you to come to a complete halt with just the wave of their hand? Physical barriers are a good thing – like guardrails that keep us from careening over the edge of a cliff – preventing a disaster before it ever happens!

It’s not much different in the area of Crime Prevention. Physical barriers are the guardrails that say to a would-be criminal; “stop in the name of the law”. In residential security, physical barriers are, in my opinion, the most effective form of crime prevention. Physical barriers such as gates, railings, fencing, window guards, and security screen doors are all “traffic cops”- suggesting as well that the criminal stop in the name of the law. This form of barrier protection is known as target hardening – suggesting the home with the most barriers is the worst target for the burglar – and they should move on.

When it comes to front doors, it is estimated that over 70% of all break-ins occur through the front door, (2010 FBI Crime Statistics), and in over 80% of these, the door frame fails when kicked in or some other battering ram devise is used. There are a number of steps a home owner can take to beef up the security of the door, but the best solution is to provide a barrier to opening.

The list of recommendation for a security screen door comes from an impressive list including law enforcement agencies, security personnel, home-improvement professionals, and home owners.
Security screen doors are now much more decorative, and in addition to the target hardening: that message to the criminal that this is “not the best place to hit” – they add value, curb appeal, convenience, and peace of mind for the homeowner.

Let’s review the benefits in each of the categories mentioned above. As far as target hardening it is obvious that a security screen door improves the structural integrity of the opening. Steel frames, deadbolts, security hinges, hidden vault pins, and other security characteristics provide both the physical strength and the mental discouragement that makes the front door a “bummer” for the criminal. It’s like a sentry posted at the opening preventing the passage of unauthorized persons!

When it comes to value and curb appeal, few products provide the dynamic duo of making the home look better while improving the structural integrity. From beautiful iron scrolls to contemporary designs, security screen doors are no longer the “prison bar” look that discouraged previous owners from settling on looks vs. security. The improved look of security screen doors combined with the current trend of many home owners choosing to make home improvements rather than buying a new home; has increased the number of home owners investing in physical ornamental barriers. These investments can actually increase resale value when it is time to move or upgrade.

Convenience is another benefit in an industry where convenience and security rarely coincide! The old adage that you “can’t have convenience with security” is not necessarily true with security screen doors. The security screen doors are often more secure than the existing door and thus they can be the secure portion while the existing door remains open. The convenience of fresh air, improved view, and less insect traffic are all incentives for the homeowner to take advantage of the outside while having the peace of mind of physical security.
Peace of mind also comes into play when you consider that a security screen door plays an important part in physical safety. When the doorbell rings, the home owner is now empowered to open the door, converse with the visitor and determine “friend or foe”. Having the physical barrier can reduce the chance of home invasion and or having a child accidently open the door to a complete stranger!

You may be thinking, “Why not just not open the door?” Keep in mind that most burglaries happen in the middle of the day. One of the best ways for the criminal to “case the neighborhood” is to knock on doors seeing if anyone is at home. A consistent not-at-home scenario could signal a soft target and increase the chance of a home burglary right then or in the future. The ability to answer the door without fear of intrusion may be a deterrence to this type of crime. You may have played a part in crime prevention without even knowing it! Physical barriers include other ornamental items as well. Next time will talk about ornamental window guards, security screens and other window protections.

Future articles will include perimeter security, i.e. gates, railings, fencing and CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design).

Until then – Stay Safe!

John Esposito, ICPS.

John is an International Crime Prevention Specialist and writes security / safety articles for First Impression Security Doors. Working together with law enforcement, First Impression strives to be a leader in increasing the safety of the communities they serve.