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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ramblings on gates and limiting access...

Limiting access is a great way to secure things. Many criminals simply drive around the neighborhood and look for an easy mark. I have studied break ins in my AO and have noticed that the places that limit the getaway car from being able to pull up to the front door and load up the goodies were usually safe. I have advised neighbors to do such and some have taken my advice, some have ignored it and others only understood 'half' of what I recommended. Electric gates are nice but I will not be covering them in this article.

To take retreat security seriously you need to use the ONION method. IOW you need many layers. A gate or a fence is only ONE layer in a well thought out security plan.

IMHO a gate is one of the first PHYSICAL barriers a potential threat could come up against. Gates and fences are designed to keep something in, something out, or BOTH.

One family in the neighborhood lost a loved one a few years back. She was an elderly lady who knew everything that was going on which was a deterent in itself. While she was alive she had many visitors so a gate was not an option for her. However, when she passed away the family wished to limit access to anyone wanting to 'snoop around' because there were no longer EYES watching the place.

A large pennant gate (triangular) was thought to be a solution but costs over $600 to fabricate. I offered them a simple solution of the chain gate. Basically 40' of 3/8ths chain secured between two posts or trees at a natural choke point. You have to be careful with using a too heavy chain or you will have to be superman to lock it.

Basically we secured a light pole 3' down in about 160 lbs of concrete. Setting the pole was tricky as we had to dig into a bank to place the pole so we wouldn't impede the flow of runoff water in the side ditches. Instead of opting for a second pole we used a handy oak tree to secure the chain. The oak is where the family placed a keyed padlock to get in and out as needed. On the light pole 4 large screw eyes were place so the chain could go through and not be 'walked up and off of' the pole. The chain needed to also be secured back upon itself and it only made sense to use a lock to do so. This lock is one of the combination locks that the combination lock can be changed at will, so you can let service folks in and then change the combination, thus giving them temporary access. Also a solar powered halogen motion detector night light is placed strategically to BLIND the driver of a car or truck at night. The light does not blind the trespasser into hitting the gate, but to disorient them and give the family time to react. This also works as a visual burglar alarm. So far there have been no vehicles or break-ins at this property as it is a PITA to back out of there and this gate removed access to the cul de sac that folks used before. If you make things hard, folks will not even bother. Criminals like EASY targets and most 'case' the location and even visit it before they ever take anything...


One of the folks in my neighborhood before I moved to my current AO had some crooks break into their home after they established a pattern that the bad guys could set a watch to! One day as the homeowner left, 10 minutes later, the bad guys broke in and pillaged the house. This house had an alarm system but the crooks knew they had a few minutes to smash and grab. They backed the getaway car up to the door, kicked in the door, and grabbed the good stuff (as per elderly next door neighbor's eyewitness testimony). The homeowner invited me over to see the damage.

I tell you, this made a BIG IMPRESSION on me and I designed the security of home with the lessons learned from this neighbor’s incident. The neighbor upgraded his door and security and installed a gate. The gate will NOT stop any vehicle as one night a friend came by and pulled the posts to the ground by driving through this gate with a BMW. The gate or cable across the driveway suffered more damage than the BMW:eek: It is VERY effective for stopping friends knocking on your door though, especially in the rain!!! So if you place a gate, design it to stop whatever you put it up for or at least go down FIGHTING!!!

When I got a hankering to write this up, I decided I needed some pictures. Most of these were taken in fairly rural areas within a few miles of each other. A lot of my ideas to limit access came from ones similar to the ones below.


In placing an access limiting device, you need to first decide what you intend to stop. Cars, trucks, four wheelers, motorcycles, people and animals all require different things to stop them. A gate that works great to limit trucks may not work well for motorcycles.

Most gates unless they are attached to a fence are designed to stop vehicles. A gate will limit access until it is unlocked to allow someone to drive through. A lot of times you cannot find the PERFECT choke point to place a gate but a fence isn't what you want either. To limit vehicles you place posts 3 foot or higher (spaced so a vehicle cannot pass between) so one cannot simply drive around but can still walk to the trail.


Another idea is a variation of this method is to place posts further apart and string a thick cable between as to prevent vehicles from driving between the widely spaced posts.


Using natural 'choke points' such as spaces between trees in the forest, buildings, large rocks, hills, etc. can be the EASY way to secure your road.

If one can wait long enough, you can simply plant trees or bushes that will grow INTO a natural barrier.


Some gates can be fabricated from steel and nothing short of a tank can defeat them. Make sure your gate is your weakest point, or folks wishing to compromise your defenses will simply BYPASS and go for the EASIER point of entry.

Drainage Ditches, creeks, streams, and rivers can provide a good barrier, especially if they are deep enough. You can also add trees, fences, rocks and other barriers to increase the potential for success! Just add a gate at the bridge or culvert and you are good to go!

There are lots of other methods for homestead/retreat security but stopping them from coming down your driveway is one of the first steps. I think everyone should have a gate if you have the property to do it.

Also keep in mind that having to get out of your vehicle WTSHTF is a perfect AMBUSH point for the bad guys. If you have ever read FerFAL's blog (www.ferfal.blogspot.com) on surviving the conditions in Argentina, you know one of the main methods of ambush used by the bad guys is getting you when you leave your home. A gate can make you vulnerable as well. Better have someone watching your six at home ready to unleash havoc on your enemies. So design your gate where you or someone else can cover it if things go bad!


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