Does a Fence Really Protect You?

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Many of us have privacy fences around our backyard. Some have fences around the front yard as well. Such things can be seen as merely decorative; or, in the case of a backyard privacy fence, intended to keep the neighbors from seeing your daughters sunbathing. Even so, many people look at them as security measures; thinking that those fences will protect their homes and families.

But do those fences really provide any protection? That depends a lot on what you mean, when you use the word “protection.” Are we talking protection from stray dogs, people who want to steal your stuff or a full-blown attack? Any fence is going to keep the stray dogs out, unless you happen to have a dog in heat, then all bets are off. But the others? That’s a different thing.

Fences act as a deterrent; but we have to make sure we’re using the right definition for that word. According to the dictionary, the word “deterrent” means “a thing that discourages or is intended to discourage someone from doing something.” Based on that definition, any fence is a deterrent to thieves and attackers. It is an obstacle that they have to overcome. Like most such obstacles, the criminal has to decide if it is worth the effort to overcome that obstacle or if their time is better spent at some other potential target.

With that being the case, how effective a deterrent your fences are is largely dependent on the criminal’s frame of mind. If they have seen something in your yard, which they really want, then the fence might not be enough. On the other hand, if they’re just looking to make a fast buck, any fence will work.

Think about it; even a six-foot tall cedar privacy fence isn’t hard to get over. We build them with the crossbars on the inside, making it so that those crossbars can’t be used as a ladder. Still, someone in good physical shape can likely vault the fence. Even if they can’t; there’s are a lot of things they could pile up to stand on, giving them the ability to make it over.

So, is there another way of constructing a fence, which would make it harder to get over?

In Mexico, they don’t use wood for privacy fences. Instead, they make their fences out of cinderblocks, like the walls of their homes. Some combine a cinder block lower part, with a wrought-iron fence above. Those will come to somewhere between six and eight feet of total height, with the metal fence “pickets” often topped with metal spikes, making it difficult to climb over.

What’s even more of a deterrent is that they often top the all cinder block fences with pieces of broken glass bottles, with the sharp points sticking up. You’ve got to be pretty desperate, as well as pretty agile, to even try getting over one of those fences, without getting cut. Unfortunately, such things qualify as booby traps, making them illegal here in the United States. Metal spikes are decorative, but broken glass is a booby trap.

Even barbed wire can be a problem. While it is legal to have a barbed wire fence around your property, for the purpose of keeping livestock in, if you live out in the country, it isn’t legal in the city. Government facilities which have barbed wire or concertina on the top of their fences and walls are essentially immune to the laws that you and I are forced to obey. The same can be said for electric fences in most places. While you might be able to have one on your property, if you live out in the country, you can’t get away from that in the city.

So, if fences serve as nothing more than a deterrent and measures that would make them truly effective for protection are illegal, what can we do?

We shouldn’t dismiss the deterrent value of fences altogether. Criminals are lazy, or they would get a real job. Few make anywhere near as much from the crimes they commit, as they would working as a stocker in a grocery store. We can use their laziness to our advantage.

Most people, even if they aren’t criminals, will look for the easiest way to get from where they are, to where they are going. That means, when they look at your house, they’re much more likely to try getting through a gate, than hopping the fence. If we make the gate obvious, easy to get to and leave it clearly unlocked, we can pretty much count on any criminal going through it. That lowers the places we have to watch, as well as simplifying our active defense strategy.

With this in mind, anything we can do to make our fence look harder to cross and our gate easier to get in through is to our advantage. A four-foot-tall hedge, grown of bushes bearing thorns, is a clear deterrent. That’s even more true, when there’s an open gate for the criminals to go through. Just make sure the gate is clearly visible from your security camera and if you can put any sort of electronic tripwire there, to let you know that someone has come through, so much the better.

It’s all about planning your fence right, so that it steers intruders where you want them to go; another way of being properly prepared. You know, like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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