In­trud­ers clos­ing in? To the Bat Cave!

So­phis­ti­cated sys­tems can pro­vide what was once the stuff of fiction.

Los Angeles Times - - HOME SECURITY - By R. Daniel Fos­ter hot­prop­erty@la­

Like James Bond, we’d all like to die an­other day — and in­trud­er­proof safe rooms can help.

Also called panic rooms, safe rooms “buy you time,” said Al Corbi, founder of Strate­gi­cally Ar­mored and For­ti­fied En­vi­ron­ments, which builds the heav­ily re­in­forced and se­cure spa­ces in­side clients’ homes.

“On av­er­age, it takes from seven to 10 sec­onds for a bad guy to travel from the break-in point to the mas­ter bed­room,” where cash and valu­ables are usu­ally stashed, Corbi said. The es­ti­mate is based on test break-ins that his com­pany has clocked.

A home­owner jolted awake by a blar­ing alarm may not even make it to a nearby safe room, which is why Corbi sug­gests se­cur­ing a bed­room it­self, or bet­ter — trans­form­ing a mas­ter suite into a “safe core.” (Safe rooms are nearly al­ways a room con­ver­sion; they are sel­dom add-on builds.)

“You need to al­ready be safe when you go to bed,” said Corbi, whose com­pany has head­quar­ters in Los An­ge­les and Vir­ginia.

Ac­tress San­dra Bul­lock dis­cov­ered just that in 2014 when a stalker broke into her Hol­ly­wood Hills home.

“I’m locked in my closet,” a dis­traught Bul­lock told a 911 dis­patcher af­ter she saw a man prowl­ing her cor­ri­dor. “I have a safe door in my bed­room, and I’ve locked it.”

Corbi said Bul­lock had the right idea: a bed­room that could be se­cured, and an ap­par­ent safe room within that room or suite. Alone-at-home Bul­lock bought some time as the in­truder, who was ap­pre­hended by po­lice with­out in­ci­dent, freely roamed her es­tate.

“Safe rooms are be­com­ing very pop­u­lar, es­pe­cially as home prices go up,” said Tomer Frid­man, direc­tor of in­ter­na­tional mar­kets for Com­pass. Frid­man first spot­ted the trend about three years ago, es­pe­cially among mul­timil­lion-dol­lar new builds in Los An­ge­les.

Although safe rooms dif­fer, an abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate with po­lice and oth­ers is of­ten key (be­yond a cell­phone). Such rooms of­ten in­clude an in­de­pen­dently wired phone and surveil­lance sys­tem, through which prop­erty can be covertly mon­i­tored via hid­den cam­eras.

Safe rooms’ se­cu­rity fea­tures are usu­ally in­vis­i­ble: No rea­son to tip off the bad guys about what they’re up against, and seam­less en­vi­ron­ments feel less like a prison.

Re­in­force­ment plates (steel and other ma­te­ri­als) are cloaked be­hind a door’s wood fac­ings, and steel win­dow and door frames are painted to match ex­ist­ing trim. Steel-al­loy pan­els (also Kevlar, wo­ven fiber­glass and other ma­te­ri­als) can be em­bed­ded within walls that are made fire-re­sis­tant; UL and other ratings spec­ify whether a mere pis­tol or a .50-cal­iber ri­fle can blast through.

Solid-core or re­in­forced doors made with steel and other ma­te­ri­als, and se­cured with heavy-duty plates and locks (me­chan­i­cal, elec­tron­i­cally ac­ti­vated and elec­tro­mag­netic) can’t be sledge­ham­mered or kicked in.

Add-ons in­clude re­in­forced walls and bal­lis­tic-grade glass to foil bul­lets, and air fil­tra­tion sys­tems in case of a chem­i­cal at­tack. Frid­man has seen sev­eral with wet bars.

“You may as well have a cap­puc­cino while call­ing the po­lice,” said Frid­man, who of­ten agents Kar­dashian deals.

The price of se­cur­ing a room may run from un­der $1,000 (for min­i­mal work on a door) to hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars.

The fa­mous, in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, fa­vor the rooms.

Nick Paster, vice pres­i­dent of L.A.- and Ore­gon-based Safe­r­oom, out­fit­ted a hall­way and ex­ec­u­tive suites for the United Na­tions’ sec­re­tary-gen­eral and his deputy.

“It’s the last line of de­fense for them,” said Paster, adding that he could say no more. (Safe­r­oom’s Ore­gon fa­cil­ity in­cludes a bal­lis­tictest­ing range; the firm was con­sulted for the 2002 Jodie Fos­ter thriller “Panic Room”).

Corbi also rou­tinely works for the rich and fa­mous, with some jobs tak­ing months, oth­ers years, such as the now-listed $17.5-mil­lion At­lanta Rice House, a fifth of which was de­signed by Corbi as a safe core (it in­cludes a “bat cave” garage with re­ced­ing wa­ter­fall fronting the en­trance, and rooms that dou­ble as “man traps,” wherein in­trud­ers can be gassed and in­ca­pac­i­tated.)

Home­own­ers who have safe rooms are, not sur­pris­ingly, tightlipped about their fea­tures — ex­cept for Corbi, who is sell­ing his 2001 James Bond-wor­thy Hol­ly­wood Hills home with he­li­copter ac­cess for $6 mil­lion. The Cor­bidesigned home in­cludes two safe rooms and three safe cores.

At­lanta Fine Homes Sotheby's In­ter­na­tional Realty

THIS REN­DER­ING shows a garage that is part of an At­lanta es­tate’s “safe core,” which in­cludes rooms that dou­ble as “man traps.”

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