Are Gated Communities Really Safer?
Gated communities are widely perceived as protective havens in the modern urban environment. This assumption seems so obviously true that it is seldom questioned, since sturdy walls and gates provide visible protection from unauthorized entry. How could a gated community fail to be safer than a non-gated one?
A recent review of research data reveals that the question of safety should be narrowed since it is possible to be safer from one type of crime than from another. In fact, the study suggests that while residents in gated communities certainly gain protection from some crimes, they may invite others.
The research was conducted by Lynn A. Addington of American University in Washington, DC and Callie Marie Rennison of the University of Colorado, Denver. They conducted an extensive review of literature from the U.S. National Crime Victimization Survey and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey to discover how safe gated communities really are in comparison to non-gated ones.
The review discovered that, as expected, burglaries by people from outside the community occurred less frequently in gated communities than in non-gated ones. The larger truth, however, is that burglaries are only a small percentage of the crimes committed in these areas, and other types of crime increase in frequency.
In contrast to burglaries, the gated communities saw a greater occurrence of domestic disputes leading to “intimate partner violence,” bullying and violent assault between neighbors. Vandalism by younger residents of the community was also a frequent complaint. These are types of behavior commonly seen in overcrowded situations where people are unable to easily get away from each other. They illustrate that while the walls of a gated community may keep unauthorized people out, they can sometimes make the authorized people feel “locked in” together.
An underlying fact emphasized by the study was that many residents of these communities are not members of the idle rich. Often the residents are barely paying their rent and should not be assumed to be above petty theft. When crimes of any type were committed in these settings, the victims often blamed their neighbors. Some would-be thieves even deliberately move into gated areas to find more victims.
When gated communities are successful in deterring burglars, the criminals are often simply displaced into neighboring areas. This can create a situation in which gated areas are completely surrounded by high-crime neighborhoods posing an ever-growing threat.
The professionals at Essentia Ironclad Asset Protection know that the best protection from all types of domestic crime is a good home security system. This is the homeowner’s own “wall” and is much more secure and reliable than the brick-and-mortar kind. Living in a good, relatively safe location is fine, but every homeowner should hedge their bets with their own security system.