Imagine a world where money is no object and securing your next breath really is the bottom dollar. How far would you take your home defense and personal security measures?
Cutting-Edge Home Defense Tactics
In an increasingly dangerous world, this is the primary consideration of high-net-worth individuals around the globe. To learn about the current trends in high-profile security concerns and countermeasures, I met with a few of the security industry’s all-stars of innovation to discuss advanced structural-hardening techniques and high-end home security enhancements. Some of these agents included cutting-edge home automation programmers, secret-door engineers, ballistic-resistant materials manufacturers, kidnap recovery specialists, personal UAV surveillance drone pilots, and nuclear-blast-rated safe room fabricators.
One thing is definitely different when it comes to home security for the rich and famous: The security concerns and realities are greater in scope than they are for John Q. Public.
Statistically, high rollers carry a higher degree of security risk. Celebrities, statesmen and the wealthy are routinely targets for a myriad of financially motivated threats, including assassination, extortion, kidnapping and blackmail. The more money, power and influence you’ve got in the bag, the more likely you and your family will be targeted because you represent a greater payoff.
Michael Guidry, CEO and founder of the Guidry Group, an international consultancy specializing in risk auditing and management, is widely regarded as one of the world’s best asset protection and kidnapping prevention/recovery specialists. His group has secured the lives and livelihoods of politicians, the ultra-wealthy and A-List celebrities worldwide. When asked about the nature of the business when dealing with this particular caliber of clientele, Guidry professed, “It’s a dangerous world, it’s a dangerous game, and when you’re talking about securing your life, and the lives of your family members, you have to be prepared to pay the ultimate price. It goes with the territory.”
Many of the security products and services I reviewed are undoubtedly reserved for the ultra-wealthy and top-tier governmental and industrial outfits, but there are a number of easily attainable variants for each, at reasonable price points, which afford superior protection for those who dwell in modest suburban castles. All the experts in the prestige security sector that I talked to echoed the same sentiment: The scale of self-preservation measures may vary by tax bracket, but the general strategies for safeguarding yourself and your family’s wellbeing are universal.
The simplest measures—high fences topped with foreboding barbs, barking attack dogs and visible security cameras—often send the clearest signals to crooks: Stay out. This subliminal projection of a secured environment is by design.
Some of the more technologically advanced monitoring devices include thermal imaging and infrared motion-sensing cameras, license plate scanners, seismic and pressure sensors for fencing and walkways, and two-way audio features for relaying verbal commands or triggering alarms.
Affordable IR security camera kits that log footage to your home computer can be picked up at Wal-Mart and other big-box stores for under $100. Still too pricey? Ear-piercing, battery-powered magnetic contact door and window alarms go for around $20. Even if an intruder were able to reach a super-secure palatial structure in one piece, their entry would be further delayed at the doors and windows.
Two-phase biometric and keypad locks provide homeowners with secure access via their unique biological signatures and passwords for everyday use. Alternatively, products such as the OnGard door brace from Global Security Experts provides an extremely effective solution for strengthening the integrity of main doorways without replacing the door itself. Retailing at around $100 online, the simple, floor-mounted brace combines the strength of the floor with space-age polymer to resist up to 1,775 pounds of force.
The company 3M, typically associated with producing Post-it notes and other office commodities, also produces an extensive line of affordable security products. For example, the 3M Ultra Prestige Series window film is an extremely durable, burglar-resistant retrofit for existing windows. Twenty-eight micro-layers of ultra-strong, tear-resistant safety film, replete with a UV-blocking finish, can keep glass intact against extreme blunt-force and limited blast-force damage, perfect for otherwise vulnerable sliding glass doors. In short, it keeps even the most determined burglars from executing a quick smash-and-grab job.
In the digital age, environmental design also means total environmental control.
“The purpose of a well-designed home automation system is to allow for all aspects of the home that are being controlled for comfort to also act as security elements for the home-owner, said Adam Salinas, home automation expert with Capitol Audio and Video in Texas. “The lighting system, for instance, doesn’t just come on at dusk to show off the home’s landscaping. It also illuminates the entry/exit corridors for surprises, and becomes a useful tool when the alarm is tripped by turning on all lights in the home or strobing to draw attention.”
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“Smart Homes,” or structures controlled by electronic software, have just recently become an affordable and attainable luxury for average consumer. Plug-and-play electrical outlet conversion kits go for $120 at most home improvement stores, and they allow users to control basics like lamps and thermostats from their smartphones, computers or tablets. The more advanced systems provide a virtually unlimited range of control for all manner of electronics, such as audio and video components, fire and flood response systems, security systems, and even custom-configured defensive devices such as disorienting foggers, strobe lights and pepper spray canisters.
High-net-worth individuals have employed automated systems to secure their expansive estates for years in elaborate and incredible fashion. One feature that I think stands out as particularly extraordinary is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.
Remote-controlled drones are becoming more prevalent in security system protocols for estates located on great expanses of land. These multi-rotor-powered drones are relatively quiet, can travel approximately 2 miles from the controller, remain airborne for 45 minutes to an hour on a single battery charge, are capable of reaching altitudes of 11,000 feet and are outfitted with high-definition “pan-tilt-zoom” cameras. They can be deployed and controlled by the homeowner personally, or by the home-automation system itself.
Pre-configured flight patterns can also be programmed and flown via GPS coordinates at specific times of the day (or night) to provide regular sweeps of the property, or the drone can respond to alarms triggered in specific sectors. I know what you’re thinking—yes, these birds can be outfitted with tactical countermeasures such as Tasers and pepper spray/paintball cannons.
Secret Safe Rooms
Retreating into a fortified position within an estate in the event the exterior is breached is as ageless as the “castle keep” itself. When falling back to an ultimate stronghold is determined to be the next best move there’s the luxury safe room. Keeping this room covered and concealed is a brilliant feat of artistic engineering unto itself. That’s where Steven Humble comes in. He’s a world-renowned mechanical engineer who specializes in secret security door design. His company, Creative Home Engineering, has installed hundreds of clandestine points of secured entry for royalty, politicians and Hollywood elite worldwide. These precision-engineered doors are seamless to the naked eye and blend in with the construction of the home.
I learned that in a world where money is a very real object that many hold little to no reservations in killing for, the ultra wealthy spare no expense to ensure their safety.
On my tour of the company’s design center, I got a firsthand look at how bookcases and dressers were able to conceal doorways and hiding spaces at the touch of a button. The mechanisms to activate the doors were artfully hidden in features around the room.
The safe rooms themselves may be simple vaults for storage of priceless valuables, or elaborately designed, fully stocked long-term bunkers for hunkering down in the event of a doomsday scenario. Scalable emergency shelter companies like Survive-A-Storm, based in Georgia, produce a safe shelter solution for everyone. From individual, above-ground, steel safe rooms that could be installed in your garage to protect against intruders and tornadoes to 120-person, nuclear-rated, below-ground fallout shelters, they’ve got you and yours covered.
For those of us without a limitless budget, scaled-down versions of hidden compartments for the storage of valuables and firearms are also available. Some crafty solutions include wall-mounted firearms storage mirrors and picture frames from TacticalWalls and the Gun Bed quick-draw headboard. Both present options that beat the heck out of sleeping with a pistol under your pillow, and the locking mechanisms on each provide a much safer storage solution.
I learned that in a world where money is a very real object that many hold little to no reservations in killing for, the ultra wealthy spare no expense to ensure their safety. Whereas more money can certainly equal more problems, the security threats and asset protection solutions are relative and scalable for each and every one of us. Evaluate your personal situation, know the pertinent threats and study crime trends in your home’s area. Do what you can on your budget to ensure your family’s safety and get creative if you have to. Employing the tried-and-true principles of general residential security can dramatically improve your personal safety at every budget level.