Do not only depend on the Contractor for your security

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By: Brian Ramsey – Amalgamated Security

Most people make physical changes to their home either because they bought a house from someone else and desire some changes or simply because, with the passage of time, they recognize that alterations are needed.

Usually in these situations, the homeowner calls a contractor and outlines in broad terms what is desired. Once a price is agreed upon, the contractor begins the job.

Recently the writer found himself in such a situation. After years of living with a chain-link fence, a decision was made to replace it with a concrete wall.

A contractor was selected and given the job of constructing the wall. The height of the wall was agreed upon and the contractor was told of the concern about a nearby river overflowing its banks. The contractor then built a loaded wall that would be able to stand up to water.  One aspect of the job was to have a gate so that I could go on the other side of the wall if I ever needed to.  So a metal gate was built and the bottom half of the gate was sheeted with solid metal to act as a barrier.

To prevent thieves from climbing over the wall, razor spikes were embedded along the top of the wall and the gate, plus the contractor even went further and secured the spikes in a manner that would make it extremely difficult and time consuming for someone to pry the spikes out of the wall. As an added security measure, the contractor cut the limbs of trees that grew on the other side of the wall to prevent someone from climbing the trees and jumping over the wall. The contractor then suggested that, as an added security measure, I should plant bougainvillea on the outside of the wall to prevent thieves from even being able to approach the wall.

After the job was completed, I surveyed the work and sat back as a happy man. I now had a solid, well-constructed wall, designed to prevent both water incursion and human incursion in that part of my yard.

As the days went by, I continued to be satisfied with the wall and would periodically congratulate myself about making a good decision, but then, the rosy hue slipped a little from my eyes.  I had told the contractor what I wanted and outlined it in broad terms. I had not specified down to the fine details. Very soon, I began to see the fine details that would allow a thief to circumvent my protective measures. I realized that the gate was now my weak point; not that the gate was not well-built, but small aspects of it would allow a thinking thief to defeat my plan.

Once the first weakness was spotted, I wondered what other small weakness existed that could defeat my plans and those of my well-intentioned contractor.

The gate was secured by a padlock and had been built so that the padlock was positioned on the inside of the gate. It hung below the solid sheet so that one could not access it from the outside to be able to force it open. The padlock, in turn, secured a bolt that went into the wall and that was a weak point. Too much of the bolt was exposed and so, with a sharp hacksaw and time, someone could cut the bolt and simply open the gate.  The metal that connected the gate hinges to the wall extended out a few inches from the wall and so again, with a sharp hacksaw and time, someone could cut these bolts and open the gate from the hinge side.

The question then became, could these weaknesses be corrected without having to rebuild the gate? Indeed it is possible!

For the locking bolt, a metal plate was welded on the outside of the gate that covered the gap through which the bolt had been exposed. Now, to get to the bolt, one would have to cut through the plate and then begin the task of cutting the bolt, thus adding considerable time and effort for someone seeking to intrude using that means. The metal plate was thick steel, so it would be very difficult to cut with a hacksaw. The hinges-weakness was also corrected by welding metal plates to the outside to block access to them, again requiring someone to have to cut through the plate before they could begin to attack the hinges.

So were all the weaknesses fixed and could the rosy tinge once again cover my eyes? No, there was more. We had identified that someone could climb a tree and jump over the wall, and so I had to cut branches that hung over the wall. In cutting the branches, the contractor had cut the lower branches but I had not identified as yet that someone could still climb the tree and use a rope to lower themselves from higher branches that overhung the wall. To truly secure the yard, all branches that hung over would have to be cut.

So why did I have to do rectification work to truly secure the premises? The answer simply is because I only outlined in broad terms what was required and depended on the contractor to figure out how to handle the fine details. However, it is often those overlooked fine details that thieves exploit to be able to break in. So when considering security improvements, do not just depend upon the contractor, but instead, look for the possible weak points and discuss the fine details with the contractor.

Article Categories:
Columns · Issue 28 · Publication · Security

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