Is It Legal to Booby Trap Your Property?
In peaceful Monett, Missouri, Sherry Davidson prepared to rent a Westco building. An old century-old safe stood in the back of the showroom, so Davidson called in a local locksmith to reprogram it for further use.
Jeff Reppert with a JR Lock and Key took off the back of the safe door rather than drilling out the old lock. It was a good thing he did—had he decided to drill through the lock, he would have cracked several glass vials filled with CS gas, a chemical common to World War I.
In its day, CS gas was akin to tear gas—it caused severe burning in the eyes as well as copious tearing and coughing. However, some speculate that the aged gas may have degraded to something closer to nitroglycerin.
Reppert called the local fire department, which sent a bomb squad to handle the incident. However, similar booby trap stories don't always end so pleasantly.
The safe hadn't been touched for more than 20 years, and investigators are still unclear as to what was inside.
In Belgium, a retired engineer inadvertently triggered one of his own booby traps. The 79 year old man had hidden a number of booby-traps in his walls, ceilings and household objects in an attempt to seek revenge on children and grandchildren.
Events like these lead many people to wonder: are booby traps legal?
A Closer Look at the Law
Booby trap laws vary depending on your location, though most areas come to the same conclusion: booby traps are dangerous, and any item intended to cause serious injury or kill people should be removed from the property.
The Fortified Buildings Act
In Ontario, booby traps fall under The Fortified Buildings Act. Any traps that pose a threat to emergency response personnel, law enforcement officials, and members of the public are against the law.
Specifically: "Except as permitted by regulation, no person shall place, set, or construct a trap on a property; or knowingly permit a trap to remain on a property that he or she owns or occupies."
So even though you want to protect your safe from theft, you should never attach a booby trap that would cause physical harm.
What Is the Penalty?
If an inspector or police officer discovers a trap on your property, you must arrange for the removal or disablement of the trap as soon as it is practical to do so.
If you fail to comply with a removal order, you may face a fine of $5,000, 3 months in prison, or both. For repeated offenses, you may face a fine of $25,000, 6 months in prison, or both. Corporations face fines of $10,000 for the first offence and $50,000 for the second offence.
Can I Secure My Property Through Other Means?
While booby traps on your safe are a definite "no,” you can secure your home and property through means other than explosive devices and weapons.
If you worry about theft, consider the following techniques:
Hide Your Safe
While a large safe might look grand sitting in the corner of your living room, the most secure safes are the ones no one knows exist.
While you could opt for the classic behind-the-painting wall safe, your items may stay more secure if you install it in less-common areas such as a back closet or in the floor of the garage.
You can learn more about ways to hide your safe in our earlier blog post.
Upgrade Your Locks
Now that you've hidden your safe, it's time to secure other areas of your house. While you should never install dangerous items that could potentially hurt guests (invited or otherwise), feel free to add items that would deter would-be criminals from sneaking into your home.
Reinforced doors with solid deadbolts, electric locks with fingerprint scanners, and similar upgrades will make it more difficult to break into your home without necessarily harming those who manage to enter. If you’d like to increase the quality of your home’s locks, consider contacting a locksmith in North York or surrounding area to take the guess work out of your home’s security.
Install Security Cameras
Now that you've secured your home, it's time to catch the thief in the act. Of course, you can't lay a trap with a spring-loaded net to restrain the intruder, but you can catch him or her on camera for later identification.
Many modern security cameras will even sync with your smartphone, so you can check up on your home while you're away. The next time someone breaks into your home, you'll have evidence that you can present in court to help convict the thief.
Hire Guard Patrol
And last, but not least, hiring a guard patrol can help fill in any gaps in your security. In addition to looking intimidating, guards can give you an extra pair of eyes where your security cameras may fail. Your guards may apprehend the criminal before he or she ever has a chance to make it out the window.
With these security solutions, you can rest assured that your valuables will remain safe—no traps necessary.
Don’t wait until it’s too late, contact a reliable locksmith in Markham, or surrounding area to increase the security of your home!
Affordable Lock is a locksmith in Markham serving the Greater Toronto Area, including Scarborough, Aurora, North York, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Stouffville. With over 30 years of experience, we pride ourselves on looking after your commercial or residential locksmith needs. Affordable Lock’s showroom in Markham showcases a wide selection of keys, locks and an assortment of other security products for your home or business. Whether you are looking to upgrade your home or business’s security, or solve security issues, Affordable Lock Services Inc. in Markham is here for you! Give us a call today.