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:
- 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,
- People in gated communities feel safe and therefore leave their door unlocked, don’t have a Neighborhood Watch group etc.
- 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.
This article fails to mention the psychological benefit to three personality types:
1. The paranoid: Gates will make me safer.
2. The racist: Keep those riff raff out of here.
3. The snobby: I’m so rich I need a gate.
And I fall under the category of Personality # 1, a.k.a. The Paranoid!