Gated Vs. Ungated Communities, Which is Safer?

When a violent crime happens in one of our neighborhoods, the response is often, let’s get a gate plus a fence and turn our block into a gated community.

Studies on Crime Rate : Gated vs Ungated

When 1,400 Florida homes were compared over a 4-year period in 2005, gated and ungated communities had nearly identical rates of burglaries and car theft. Only minor crime like smash-and-grab theft and vandalism was lower in gated communities. [Reference]

When comparing property crime victimization in Gated vs Ungated communities in 2012 on a national level, Criminologist Nicholas Branic found no significant influence in crime rate from being in a gated community.[Reference]

Even worse: In South Africa you increase the risk of both day-time and night-time burglary if you live in a gated community. [Reference]

Why no advantage found in these studies?

The following hypotheses have been proposed:

  1. Studies compare homes of similar value not taking into consideration that gated communities typically are located in high-crime neighborhoods and are compared to un-gated communities in lower crime neighborhoods,
  2. People in gated communities feel safe and therefore leave their door unlocked, don’t have a Neighborhood Watch group etc.
  3. Everyone knows the code to the gate! Careless residents give their gate code to everyone, from Pizza deliveries to cheap handymen rendering the gate useless.

Would gating my existing community reduce my risk of crime?

YES!, If our neighborhood recently has experienced a lot of crime, then you likely already have a Neighborhood Watch group (or even Neighborhood Guard group) in place, and will remain vigilant for years to come. This mitigates hypothesis 2 and 3.

But what about hypothesis 1?

In February of 2013 a comprehensive study taking a myriad of variables into account was published in Justice Quarterly, which shows that gating will reduce risk of burglaries, how much reduction is unclear. [Reference]

Is gating my existing community worth it?

HOA fees for building and Maintaining Fence and Gate system will be costly. City will likely require you to take over maintenance of your streets. There is the cost of decreased emergency personnel response times (Police, Fire, Ambulance), No study has been made showing if gating will be worth it.

Other more cost-effective alternatives to gating are available including the DIY Community Camera solution from Neighborhood Guard.

New Oakland Police Districts

Oakland Police department announces the borders of its new 5 districts.

Splitting Oakland from 2 districts into 5 districts Oakland is recommended by the Bratton Group. From the Bratton Group Report.

“These reforms are an important component in the larger effort to move the OPD to a Neighborhood Policing Plan, with the city divided into five districts, each commanded by a captain. The key to this new district-based structure is geographic accountability for each captain – and for their subordinate lieutenants, sergeants, and officers – for a specific area of the city with its specific crime and disorder problems, its familiar community members, and, to a significant degree, its specific cast of criminal characters. Under the Neighborhood Policing Plan, the district captains will be the principal crime fighters in the Department, each taking responsibility for crime in their respective districts and each held accountable for designing and directing responses and strategies to counter crime conditions.”

City of Oakland Police Districts

The 5 new Oakland Police districts

Continue reading

Burglary Prevention Tips.

Target Selection (what burglars look for):

  • Near pool of offenders (is there a parolee halfway home nearby).
  • Near major thoroughfare.
  • On outskirts of neighborhoods (greater exposure to strangers).
  • Previously burglarized (4x more likely to get burglarized again compared to non-burglarized homes (reason-burglars return to get property left behind or tell others of desirable houses, offer cues for a good payoff or easy access. Burglars may return months later to steal property, which owners have presumably replaced through insurance proceeds. Most concentrated in lower-income areas, where burglaries are more numerous).
  • Houses near burglarized homes (burglar may return and if previous house is hardened, select another nearby house).


  • Houses vacant for extended period.
  • Routinely vacant during the day.
  • Houses of new residents.
  • Houses w/o dogs (a dogs presence is a close substitute for human occupancy and most burglars avoid houses with dogs).


  • Houses with cover (tall bushes, sprawling, dense trees that block view of house from street) are more appealing to burglars.
  • Houses that are secluded are more appealing to burglars.
  • Houses with poor lighting are more appealing to burglars.
  • Corner houses are more vulnerable (fewer immediate neighbors).
  • Houses with doors and windows that face other houses appear to be less vulnerable to burglary.


  • Houses easily entered through side or back doors/windows.
  • Hostile vegetation, such as rosebushes or cacti, below windows is good deterrent or window locks.


  • Houses with weakened entry points.
  • Houses whose residents are careless about security (leaving windows open) studies show houses with alarms combined with other security devices reduce burglaries (including window locks, dead bolts, security lights and alarms).

Potential rewards

  • Houses displaying signs of wealth (though burglars avoid the most expensive houses).
  • See goods through windows of buildings or autos.

What Burglars are After:
Goods Stolen

  • Cash
  • Jewelry
  • Weapons
  • Electronics
  • Easily portable items (not usually art, fine china, etc).

1999 statistics show burglars are:

  • 87% male.
  • 63% under 25.

What do burglars do:

  • Burglarize 2+ houses a week.
  • Burglars typically dispose of stolen property within 24 hours.
  • 2/3 of burglars force entry, 1/3 enter through openings.
  • Burglar swill be caught approx. 1 in 30 times.
  • Most burglars motivated to get quick cash to support drug/alcohol habit.

Responses for homeowner (should be used in collaboration with each other, not all have to be used):

  • Report all incidents to OPD using the on-line OPD Citizen’s Crime Report.
  • Install a burglar alarm (Burglars steal less from houses with alarms).
  • Install a CCTV system (Help more in identifying burglars and vehicles).
  • Harden your target (Sturdy front door with deadbolt, window locks (no latches), double pane windows.
  • Increase occupancy indicators (Interior/exterior lights left on, closed curtains, noise (from TV/stereo), cars in driveway, and
  • electrics on timers, anything else to make it appear as if someone is home).
  • Avoid leaving clues when you are away on extended vacations-collect mail/newspapers
  • Improve visibility to the house from street/neighbors.
  • Implement or participate in your Neighborhood Watch Program (and follow advice of program).
  • Reduce House access.
  • Reduce ways into the house, into the yard.
  • Mark your property
    • Engrave items:
      • Use etching liquids
      • Owner applied number
    • Write down serial numbers and keep in secure spot, etc.
    • Take photos of all equipment serial numbers using your smart cell phone.

Other Deterrents

  • Install fake alarm signs (or real ones if you have a system).
  • Install “Beware of Dog” signs (even if no dog).
  • Place dog bowls in front of your property.
  • Install locked gates in your yard’s rear access points.

Residents should use all installed security devices.
From US Dept of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services-