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Perceived Security: A Fence only keeps out honest people

Click on the images in this article to read about anti climb/anti cut security fences

Fences have long been sold as a security feature. They promise to protect your property and loved ones. However, most fences are only a perceived security feature. A fence only keeps honest people out.

Home owners frequently amend fences around homes to keep pets in or are looking for ways to prevent other peoples pets or wildlife from entering their property through or over a fence. Yes, a fence can be a way to keep children and pets contained in a yard, but wildlife, pets, and children are all creative, curious, and often unaware of danger.

Michael Dolan wrote in the Smithsonian Magazine in April 2019, "Before they crossed the Atlantic, pickets meant something completely different. In Old Europe, pickets—from piquet, French for “pointed stick or board”—were military gear, logs sharpened to shield archers from cavalry." Picket fences were intended to injure people. Is that something we really want around high traffic child and family areas? (Pools, playgrounds, schools, neighborhoods)

Check out this historic fence in Charleston South Carolina (below). It was installed in 1822 when the threat of a slave uprising scared the wealthy property owner. The design was taken from the Dutch calvary and is called Chevaux-de-Frise.

Do fences truly provide security to a home owner? A fence provides a barrier to entry. However, it will not STOP someone from entering the property. Many people have used the Texas Governor's Mansion in downtown Austin, as an example of a historic spike topped fence that is there to provide security. Even this tall "security" fence did not prevent vandalism and a massive fire at the Mansion in 2008.

A fence is a layer of protection and many security companies and law enforcement agencies/officers will tell you that other features do just as good if not a better job in providing protection to home owners. In this article from The Montgomery Police Department they discuss types of fences and the level of security provided by each as well as additional and alternative options for better security. A tall fence is needed for it to be deemed a security feature (taller than 6 foot). Shrubs, dogs, security cameras, and lighting are all sighted as options that work just as well if not better than a fence in deterring crime. A security fence needs to be non climbable, meaning no hand or foot holds. The horizontal rails on many fences create an easy climb design.

Los Altos Hills, CA is among the communities that have banned spike topped fences. This is a community which is home to numerous millionaires and even billionaires. If the fence is such an important security feature, why was a community like this ok with banning it? Why? Because they have much more effective ways of providing security for their property, pets, and families.

Here are some statements gathered from security and law enforcement professionals about fences as a security measure:

Former Security Professional/Private Security statements:

  • Fences give the homeowner a false sense of security. They do not stop people from going on your property. Criminals will cut the fence before climbing over it.

  • Open wrought iron fence give security threats an open line of sight and very little resistance

  • Open picket fences cause more than 3000 injuries a year and have started to be replaced in play structures, skate parks, and other public venues

  • When wildlife encounter a wrought iron fence, they don’t see it as a danger, they instead often end up becoming injured and die from trying to jump or pass through the fence.

Statements from other security/law enforcement officers:

  • As a retired Deputy who took hundreds of burglary reports, I can honestly tell you that ANY fence will only keep honest people out. Dogs and guns do a better job on criminals.

  • Field fences claim their share of deer too because the deer get their feet caught in the wire and they often break their legs or tear their hips out of joint.

  • Everyone is entitled to put up a fence. But don’t believe it will keep you safe. Except maybe from zombies, because they can't climb.

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