Weighing up the cost of physical security

November 2009

The old adage of 'you get what you pay for' holds true when it comes to securing your home.

Even after several years of working in the security industry it still surprises me that people are prepared to compromise their family’s safety for the sake of short-term savings. Every year police crime statistics tell us that house breakings are on the increase, so you’d think that budgeting for security barriers that will keep criminals out of your home would be a priority,” says Pierre Slabbert, Gauteng regional manager of Trellidor, manufacturers of physical security barriers.
In the course of his work, Slabbert has been called out to many a crime scene where victims lament the fact that they had inadequate security measures in place and in their distress frantically try to rectify the situation as quickly as possible. “Prevention is obviously better than cure, but we always try to reassure people in this situation that we’ll help them secure their homes against future home invasions.”
According to Slabbert, it is imperative to install the best quality security barriers one can afford on every external door and all windows, no matter how inaccessible they may seem. “Don’t believe for a moment that a tiny, second or third storey window is a deterrent to determined house breakers. They will find a way of gaining access and then open up the house to the rest of the gang.”
‘Buying down’ in terms of quality in the search for short-term financial savings could lead to far greater costs in the end. Bargain security barriers often corrode quickly, weakening their resistance to attack. Rigid metal security barriers cannot absorb the blows of a determined criminal and may snap. And there may be no back-up service when things go wrong, leaving you vulnerable and exposed.
There is a place for off-the-shelf security barriers, particularly if price is the critical factor. “People must, however, be aware of what they are purchasing and must not expect such products to do the same type of protection job that custom made, professionally fitted and guaranteed products would do,” advised Slabbert.
Plus, there are alternative solutions. If securing the entire home is out of the financial equation, then choose one part to secure as a safe area with good quality barriers, such as the bedroom wing. Shut it off from the rest of the house with a security gate in the passage, sliding barriers on any external doors and burglar guards on all windows. If there are no external doors in this part of the house, fit a sliding barrier to at least one window to use as an escape route in the event of an emergency.
Many break-ins occur through the lock area so it’s important to purchase the toughest locks available to get the best protection one can afford. This includes the locks on your sliding security gates. Be aware that slam locks are not always the best option as they could lead to accidental locking with you stranded on the wrong side of the gate. They are also not the strongest locks on the market. Rather choose a lock that gives you more than just one locking method.
Security barriers should be designed to allow everyone to leave the building with ease in an emergency. “How often does one consider people that struggle to walk, the elderly or wheelchair bound? We have the technology to cater for special needs, such as recessed tracks and tracks that lift up or swing out of the way. It may cost a little more to custom-make security barriers, but is well worth it when you really need it,” said Slabbert.
Using reputable barrier security manufacturers allows one to take advantage of extended guarantees, including against
corrosion, and after-sales services such as replacing lost keys. “There are plenty of fly-by-nights out there taking advantage of the rise in house breakings and people’s fear. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve been called out to repair ‘trellidors’ that turn out to be manufactured by someone else. Buyers need to be absolutely sure that they are purchasing the genuine article if they are to avoid a nasty surprise when a crisis arises,” said Slabbert.

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