Are all security ‘must-haves’ really must-haves?

Burglar bars, alarms, gates, beams – there are many security options on the market all being sold as security ‘must-haves’ but how essential are they really?

Agnieszka Gryn, Regional Executive at Fidelity ADT, says it’s important to do your homework and speak to the right people before investing in security. “There are definitely superior products out there so don’t be afraid to ask questions and make the best decisions based on your budget,” she advises.

When it comes to the first layer of security, perimeter security, she says having a motorised gate is the best option but if this is not within your budget, then ensuring the area surrounding your gate as well as the area between the gate and the garage is clear of foliage is key. “You don’t want any areas in which a criminal or hijacker could hide or use to their advantage. Walls, palisade fencing and electric fencing are also all effective deterrents if installed correctly. Make sure you use a professional for the job,” says Gryn.

Beams also fall within the perimeter security layer and can be very effective if attached to the house. “Free-standing beams are not as effective for several reasons. They are susceptible to lightening damage, they are easily triggered by pets and plant movements, and criminals can easily bypass and damage them. The whole objective of perimeter security is to stop criminals from reaching the house. Beams attached to the house facing the driveway or other high-risk areas, for example, can cover a 12m radius, are protected from lightening, and criminals need to get through the 12m radius before they get to the house or can damage the beam. We highly recommend this option and will advise customers on how to use them optimally bearing in mind pets, plants and other factors,” she says.

When considering burglar bars, Gryn says burglar bars on the outside of the window are the best option, although they may not be as aesthetically pleasing. “What’s important with external burglar bars is the quality of the bars and the area where they are anchored to the wall. Don’t go for cheap, thin bars and ensure a professional installs them so they can’t be screwed out of the anchoring walls.”

Most importantly, she says, is when you install burglar bars ensure that there is an escape route in case of a fire. “Leave a back door or front door accessible and ensure you have fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in the areas where there are burglar bars.”

Sliding doors and slam-lock doors also need to be good quality. “Go for brand names. The lock on basic sliding doors is simple to open with a screwdriver as is lifting the sliding door off its rails. To really secure a sliding door you need an additional latch. Some residents have also cleverly welded a spike onto the door that slides into the wall when the door is closed. This prevents the door from being lifted off the rails. Once again keep fire in mind when installing security doors.”

She also points out that with all security gates you need to check that criminals can’t climb over the gap at the top. “And with double storey homes remember that the upper storey doors need to be just as secure as the ground floor doors. This includes sliding doors.”

Alarm systems in the house are only effective when properly maintained, tested regularly and are activated. “Too often when there has been a break-in we find that either alarm systems aren’t functioning properly because they have not been tested or maintained, or that residents simply become complacent and don’t arm their alarms. We believe an alarm system is a must-have because it’s the quickest way to get help but residents need to be smart about using their system optimally.”

She recommends having electric fences and beams on different zones so they can be activated separately when residents are inside the house.

“Ultimately you want to stop criminals before they get to your house. When considering security ‘must-haves’ remember you need a layered approach and invest in good quality products. They will generally last longer if maintained and provide better security, which is the end goal,” Gryn concludes.