When it comes to choosing fencing for your property, is high or low fencing better for security? Is it more important to shield your home from the view of potential thieves, or to provide a clear view from the street, so as not to allow burglars the possibility of approaching the home without being seen?
Unfortunately, for many homeowners, installing a fence may be your first and only home security addition. If you live in a suburb with a low crime rate, you may deem it unnecessary to install additional security features such as cameras, signs, or security screens. Alternatively, if you live in a high-crime neighbourhood, your fence may be the first layer of protection in a series of carefully thought out security measures. Whichever it is for you and your household, it’s not enough to simply put up a tall fence. Like with any security feature, you’ll need to figure out which fence is really going to give you additional protection.
Your home should be your safe haven, and you deserve not to have that illusion of safety shattered by a callous criminal. Burglary can have long-lasting effects of paranoia, depression and anxiety for its victims. It can be a horrible and debilitating crime to try to financially and emotionally recover from. It’s crucial to think about your home’s security before undertaking any renovations so that you can avoid being targeted by a burglar. It’s critical to think carefully about the type of fence that is best for your home and its security before you have it installed. Having a great fence that keeps you and your family safe will be the most significant investment you make.
For many, a short fence is not on the top of the list when thinking about a ‘security fence’. It’s almost a paradox – why would I want something shorter and easier to climb when thinking about preventing a burglary? When choosing your defensive fence, your gut reaction may be to go for the tallest, thickest brick wall there is. However, have you carefully considered whether this is actually the right option for your home? A short fence doesn’t give you privacy, but it also doesn’t give a burglar privacy, and this a point that should be taken into consideration.
Exposing the crime
The average burglar breaks into a home within five minutes. Any longer than that, and they’re likely to abandon their attempt and move on to another house. What’s the thought process of this, you might be asking? Fear of exposure – the majority of burglaries are non-violent crimes, with the intention only to steal valuables and cash. Most robbers do not want to risk being seen, caught or confronted.
Trying to avoid being caught is where short fences come into play. If you live in a neighbourhood with lots of foot traffic and a strong sense of community, a short fence may be a better deterrent against a robber than a tall one. A tall wall could offer cover to the perpetrator and give them a shield against the rest of your neighbourhood as they break into your house. Yes, it makes it more difficult for them to enter and exit; however, it also gives them much more time to commit their crime without being detected.
The short fence, on the other hand, will offer no cover to a robber. They will have to try to break into your home in broad view of your other neighbours. Especially if paired with additional security features, such as security screens on the windows and doors, many experienced criminals will see the risk in attempting that.
Trim your trees and bushes
Something that gives an equal amount of cover as a tall fence but is also much easier to gain access to your house around, is overgrown shrubbery or hedges. Your neighbours won’t see an intruder skulking around the bushes – especially as plants naturally throw different shadows dependent on the wind. Unlike a fence, a robber can move through the bushes reasonably easily to get to your front or back door.
What about a tall fence?
There’s no doubt that a high fence makes an effective physical deterrent against someone trying to make entry into your home.
A tall wall should be your preferred option if you:
- Live in a neighbourhood with a high crime rate: burglars may be bolder if your area has experienced several break-ins or if it has a bad reputation. They may not be as concerned with the exposure risk that a short fence gives them, and therefore it’d be best just to try and impede them off physically.
- Live in a rural area or a street where the houses are far apart: the robber will not be concerned with the neighbours spotting them, so it’s again best to make it more physically demanding.
- Live in a house that is already set off from the street, such as at the back of a housing complex or a large driveway. As with the previous two scenarios on the list, the robber will not feel the risk of exposure, and a short fence will not scare them off.
How tall should a fence be to deter a robber?
A general rule is for your fence to be two metres or higher to stop intruders from quickly climbing it over. It’s worth noting that if you’re considering a tall fence you made need to check local council regulations on fencing heights to find out what height is permissible in your area. Check with your relevant authorities before building the fence, just to confirm.
As well as two metres being a tricky height for a burglar to climb over, this height also helps to block the view of your home. Burglars often scope out a home, or ‘window shop’, before robbing it – they look at the entry and exit points and see if there are any valuables on display. Shielding your house with a tall fence will minimise that risk and may prevent a potential break-in.
If using it as a defensive structure, your fence should also be sturdy and robust. Colorbond steel fences are a popular option for many Australian homes – they can be built high, have a solid design so nobody can see through, and are incredibly hardy.
What else should I know about choosing a fence to prevent a robbery?
- Growing vines or climbing plants over your This will make it harder for the intruder to climb over. Thorny vines will also act as an extra obstacle.
- Choosing a fence with a pointed top, such as a picket fence. Not many people would want to attempt hastily climbing over a fence that would be very painful to land on.
- A lattice on top of your fence will raise the height of your wall (as well as looking great!) As lattices are add-ons, they also won’t be as strong as the main structure of your fence and can collapse under a person’s weight. The crash will alert you and your neighbours to your intruder.
- Wire fences are flexible and thin, so challenging to climb quickly over. Burglars could easily get tangled in them while attempting to flee the property.
- If you are really serious about keeping intruders out, you can top your fence with barbed wire or bulldog spikes. As these are potentially dangerous, you will need to seek permission and approval first from your council.
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