Home security for the rich
Trip the security system on your average American house, and you’ll likely set an alarm whining, cause lights to flip on and possibly trigger a notification to the security company or local police station.
But burglar, spy or inept visitor beware: Hit one of the more advanced security systems out there, and you will not only be faced with impenetrable doors, but with blinding tear gas and other serious deterrents.
It may sound like action-film overkill, but some of the wealthiest people turn to such elaborate protection systems to protect their families and valuables. And it’s not, as one might surmise, a post-2001 phenomenon among the über-rich.
“Sept. 11 made no difference at the high-end,” says Al V. Corbi, president of Los Angeles-based Strategically Armored & Fortified Environments (SAFE), a maker of such sophisticated systems. “They’ve always had these systems. Where it made a big difference is middle (income) America. It brought a sensitivity and awareness that wasn’t there before.”
Cameras, chemicals and bullet-proof doors
Not everyone feels the need for alarm or other home protection systems. A report by Parks Associates, a Texas-based market research firm, suggests that the U.S. home security market is nearing maturation, with 21% of homes having adopted electronic security systems. And while the raw number of homes adopting some type of security has increased, the rate of adoption has slowed, explains Parks Associates chief executive Tricia Parks. In fact, the firm forecasts that only some 8% more will have adopted some type of security system by the close of 2009.
But a handful of those are willing to pay a high price for peace of mind. Corbi’s high-end SAFE system is designed to tactically detect intruders and keep them from entering, much less attacking, clients’ properties. And the more elaborate setups start at $1 million.
For that, you get measures including ballistic-grade doors capable of blocking bullets, hidden security cameras and a gas canister system originally designed for the prison industry, which drops temporarily debilitating blankets of chemicals.
Will such measures ever prove necessary? Probably not, admits Corbi. “They are the ultimate spare tire,” he says. “You hope you never need it, but would you really want to go down the road without it?”
More security options than ever
If you seek to protect your belongings without resorting to chemical warfare, there are plenty of other places to spend your money. For example, Döttling’s customized safes, which range in price from $55,000 to $160,000. The German firm’s latest luxury designs, arguably collector’s items in their own right, feature antique exteriors. But those are combined with high-tech locks, such as biometric security systems (think fingerprint and retina scanners).
The number of security options has increased dramatically over the past few years, experts say. And in addition to new technologies, of which there are many, there is more fusion than ever before.
“Prior to Sept. 11, a lot of these markets — the alarm industry, the video surveillance industry and the access control market — were running parallel, but weren’t necessarily being integrated like they are today,” explains Merlin Guilbeau, executive director of the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association. “Now when an event takes place, you’re not only creating an alarm condition that’s notifying a 24-hour central station, you’re also capturing video of the event.”
Now that there are such sophisticated ways to keep people out, all we need is an effective system for keeping teenagers in at night. And finally, we’d all sleep a little better.