Security for gated communities
Do Gates Reduce Crime?? This is the most common question that is asked. The answer is always a qualified, yes. Fences and working gates definitely reduce unauthorized vehicle and foot traffic on a property especially late at night and early in the morning. For many properties, traffic reduction alone is enough to reduce much of the crime. Note my emphasis on "working" gates. Swinging gates in a volatile community will have problems being operational 24-hours per day.
This is the most common question that is asked. The answer is always a qualified, yes. Fences and working gates definitely reduce unauthorized vehicle and foot traffic on a property especially late at night and early in the morning. For many properties, traffic reduction alone is enough to reduce much of the crime. Note my emphasis on "working" gates. Swinging gates in a volatile community will have problems being operational 24-hours per day.
The effectiveness of gates and fencing depends on the nature of the property and the management controls in place. Gates and fencing works best on a stable property with non-criminal, mature residents. If you intend to install a gate system on a high-crime property that is full of criminal types, drug dealers, and gang members the gated system will be waste of money until you clear the bad element out.
Formidable fencing and gates, by design, restrict access and therefore provide both a physical and psychological barrier for criminals. Good signage is necessary to announce that this is private property and to post your no trespassing policy. Sure, one can tailgate onto a property behind someone else but this requires effort and exposes the criminal to a potential witness. Criminals want to come onto a property anonymously and blend into the community of strangers. Criminals like quick escape routes and don’t want to become trapped behind fences or gates should they be discovered. Many criminals will bypass a gated community for one that is not gated simply because of the restricted access.
Gated communities should not claim to be able to prevent all crimes. Gates and fences is just another tool to help a property manager fight crime. More tools are usually required to do the complete job. Support by the residents and management is required to maintain an effective gate system. Residents need to educated the how the properly use the gate system and how to report abuse and damage. Residents need to report or challenge unauthorized persons using the gates and not give out gate codes unnecessarily. Management needs to periodically change the master gate code to screen out former repair vendors, a zillion pizza delivery companies, and former residents.
How to Prevent Tailgating
Tailgating is the practice of following an authorized resident vehicle through the open gates before it closes. Tailgating is common practice at all gated communities and the cause of some of the damage to the gate systems. Tailgating is most common during rush hours. Tailgating is only considered bad when unauthorized persons infiltrate the property. On a large property it is impossible to know who is authorized to tailgate and who is not. Some properties educate their residents to stop and wait for the gate to close behind their car before proceeding. This can be effective on small, low-volume properties where resident cars are recognizable.
On a large property, vehicle identity is not so easy. The only way to be sure, other than posting a guard, is to force each vehicle to enter their access code, card, or remote to gain entry. Adding a high-speed swing-arm between the gate keypad and the gate (sally port, man-trap) typically does the trick. However, there must be enough front-end real estate for this modification. The swing-arm has to be synchronized to open and close behind each car before the main gate opens. Sometimes a speed bump is necessary, just before the swing arm, to slow down the traffic through this portal and to prevent crashing into the arms. This system works, but will radically slow down the throughput into the property and is suitable only on low-volume access points.
On exit-only gates, in-ground collapsible traffic-teeth have proved very effective in preventing wrong-way vehicles access. Highly visible signs are necessary to prevent tire damage. These to can be circumvented by clever thieves but work well enough to deter most drivers.
Disclosure to Residents
It is a good practice to always notify the community residents in writing about the function of the gates. Since access gates are an amenity, any change is service needs to be explained so residents can decide what to do next. If the management of a gated community decides to leave the gates open during emergencies, this policy change should be stated in writing and published to the residents. If a gate becomes damaged and requires weeks to repair, you should so notify your residents. If management decides not to repair the gates it is better to remove them altogether than to leave them there in disrepair.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marvin Badler has appeared on CBS - 60 Minutes, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, FOX NEWS, Germany TV, and many more local, national and international TV and radio stations.