Residential security – caveat emptor

August 2019 Integrated Solutions, Security Services & Risk Management

The term caveat emptor (buyer beware) is used when buying and selling a property, but the term is just as applicable when considering improving a property, and no more so than when it comes to adding or improving the security of the property.

The security industry is technically a very highly developed industry and an inexperienced buyer can be faced with a confusing array of options. Unless the buyer is IT literate s/he can easily make some very expensive mistakes. So where does one start and where does one finish?

Well for starters, I don’t think that there is a finishing point. Security systems are constantly improving and criminals are constantly finding ways of circumventing them. So, one should keep updating one’s knowledge and systems.

Where does one start?

Personal security, homestead security, yard security, perimeter or access control security? A major deciding factor will obviously be financial. What can one afford and does one focus your budget on just one form of security (say perimeter or internal home security systems) or does one stretch it out over a number of systems by buying cheaper, less sophisticated systems? These are difficult decisions.

Generally, people start with their homes as insurance companies dictate that the building should be secure, (strong burglar guards, good locks, an internal alarm – ideally monitored and linked to a reactionary security company.) A little yapper sleeping indoors can also be quite effective, but they can trigger alarms if allowed to wander around. External security lighting around the house is also vital and is a strong deterrent. Make sure to leave no dark nooks and crannies were intruders can lurk.

Next, generally people look at their perimeter as they want to keep intruders right off their property and here they are confronted with another vast array of options ranging from solid barriers (brick, stone, timber, corrugated) to see-through barriers (palisade, mesh types, barbed or razor wire, monitored electric fencing, torsion or vibration detection systems). What to use is the question.

Solid barriers can be aesthetically pleasing, but they are expensive and easily scalable so they usually require some form of reinforcement, such as electric fencing or razor coil on top. They also have the disadvantage of providing an intruder with cover from view from the street once they are in one’s property.

Mesh, palisade, or barbed wire type fences are cuttable, burrow-able and scaleable so again they usually require some form of add-on deterrence.

The immensely popular monitored electric fence now has to be adapted to meet requirements of the Department of Labour’s new laws. This means either they have to have a barrier fence in front of them to protect the general public from inadvertent shock, an expensive addition, or they have to be monitored using low voltages.

Low-voltage monitoring regrettably removes some of the physical deterrence on a free-standing electric fence but retains the monitoring capabilities and psychological visual deterrence. Monitored electric fences continue to play a major role as add-ons to other forms of perimeter barriers such as walls and palisades. The inclusion of taught-wire and vibration systems into electric fences is now also gaining in popularity.

Next there is the open yard area. This is usually protected by means of beam systems alerting the occupier that their perimeter has been breached. Access to this yard area also needs consideration and here automatic gates, intercoms and access control systems play an important role.

Finally, seeing who, or what, has triggered an alarm is now the biggest growth development in the security industry and surveillance cameras are proving to be an invaluable security asset in detecting and identifying intruders.

In conclusion, the old adage that good security needs to be like the layers of an onion that have to be penetrated for the intruder to reach his target, still holds true as no one system provides total security. One can also have all the security technology available, but if there is no reaction to an alarm activation, one actually has no security solution despite the money spent.

For more information contact Ndlovu Fencing (T/A Stafix Electric Fence Centre), 0861 STAFIX (782349),,


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