The Orlando Sentinel [link not available] finally reported on what most of us already know – gated communities are not any safer than non-gated communities [via Governing.com]. Although vandalism and smash-n-grab incidences were relatively lower in gated communities, home burglaries and car theft incidences were about the same. This definitely underlines the oft-cited sense of security value concept that real estate developers hobnob about. People are willing to shell out extra for that sense of protection that they are safe in their little haven even though they really aren’t.
I had always lived in gated communities in Atlanta until I moved to College Station. My personal experiences tell me that the gates were only a psychological barrier in the minds of the residents and not the potential criminal. The first community I lived in, visitors could mention any random apartment number that we were supposedly visiting and the guard would let you in. The second one was controlled by access codes that any Tom, Dick, and Harry seemed to know. Pizza delivery guys, Fedex/UPS delivery employees, local Chinese takeout guys, etc knew the code and the codes were never changed; at least the two and half years that I lived there. Anyone could easily tailgate if they were quick enough and if you could not, residents would offer their card just because you were blocking their way. If anyone happened to ram into the gate while it was in motion, it would instantly stop function and just because gate repairs are extremely expensive, they never got repaired until it was move-in season.
Gated communities thus offer only a sense of security that doesn’t seemingly exist although, the location of your community matters. It will not help installing gates on your community if your neighborhood is in a high-crime locality. What do gates do? They slow down cars and make it slightly safer for children. Honestly, I can’t think of anything else.