How to Stop Burglars From Climbing a Fence (Full Guide)


One of the best burglar deterrents is a high and intimidating fence. So definitely consider investing in a good fence if you don’t have one already. Height, strength, and security toppings are the most important features of a good security fence.

Important Fence Security Features

1. Height

The taller your fence is the better. A taller fence will make it harder for burglars to climb over. If it’s not see-through, it will also make it difficult to peak inside your property thus improving your privacy. A good height for a security fence is typically 7 feet or more.

In many places to install more effective fence security toppings such as electric wire and barbed wire, the fence needs to be at least 7 ft tall, sometimes even close to 8 ft. This is a general rule so prevent random passerby or even worse a child, from getting hurt accidentally by the fence.

So if you’re interested in installing these types of toppings, you should consult your local authorities first to see if it’s permissible or not.

2. Strength

A weak bamboo fence will not protect your property as well as one that’s made from layers of bricks or durable steel.

If you have the budget and the willingness, always go with the heavier and more difficult to remove type of fencing. If you have to use a cheap wooden fence, make sure that it’s strongly anchored to the ground.

The same is true for any security upgrades. You need to install them firmly onto the fence so that they can’t be removed by the criminals.

Fencing types to consider:

  • electric fencing
  • vinyl fencing
  • palisade fencing
  • wrought iron fencing
  • chain link fencing
  • razor ripper coil fencing
  • clear view fencing
  • brick wall fencing
  • wooden fencing
  • tall and dense shrubbery (thorny if possible)

3. Security upgrades

Regardless of how tall your fence is, if the top is smooth someone can climb over it. After all, height doesn’t play much of a role if the climber has a ladder and some step-up on the other side of the fence that he can use to land safely.

So with your fence properly installed, consider adding some topping that would make it more difficult for a burglar to climb over.

Common burglar deterrents for fences:

  • light timber trellis on top of the fence combined with thorny climbers
  • barbed wire and razor tape
  • broken glass
  • commercial fence spikes (even some steel bird spikes can be helpful)
  • spinning fence toppings
  • anti-climb paint (also known as non-drying paint)

Not every one of these upgrades can be installed on every fence. The width of the fence can play a role in determining if a fence topping can be installed or not, or how well it would look.

Having said that, here are the pros and cons of these 6 possible upgrades:

Light timber trellis with thorny climbers

This is an effective deterrent for two reasons. If someone tries to climb over it, it would probably break, making it risky business for any burglar. It’s also easy to set up.

For it to really have an effect, the trellis should be at least 400 mm in height with battens around 15-20 mm². You don’t want the battens to be too thick or too thin.

If they’re too thick then the structure will be too strong so the risk of it collapsing under the burglar’s weight will not be there.

But if the battens are too thin there’s a risk that the burglar will be able to easily cut through them before climbing. To prevent the removal of the trellis, make sure that it’s fixed securely to the fence panels or posts.

If you combine it with thorny plants (these plants are recommended by the UK police), the trellis would be more effective because the plant could cause cuts and bruises to any climbing scum.

A thorny plant is a good addition but it’s not perfect. A burglar can still throw a thick blanket on top to protect himself against the thorns. The trellis will also need a firm fixing to carry the extra weight of the plant.

And in case the timber starts to rot, the plants could get in the way of treating or replacing it. So it’s recommended to treat the timber against pests and rotting and to use stainless steel or galvanized fixings to reduce the likelihood of this happening.

Overall this is a good option for backyard and garden fences because it looks natural and is not particularly dangerous for anyone except for a burglar trying to climb over. It’s also fairly inexpensive, especially if you install it by yourself.

Commercial fence spikes

This is the most popular fence upgrade because it’s easy to set up and in some cases it’s pretty affordable. There are some really strong spikes designed especially for deterring burglars.

They’re tough and hard to remove. Throwing a blanket on top wouldn’t do much because the spikes are sharp and large enough to make climbing over them very difficult.

These spikes can be fairly expensive, especially the ones made specifically for burglary prevention. But there are also some really affordable spikes that are designed for preventing humans and animals from climbing a fence. In fact, they can be placed on a roof or any other area as well.

A great product that fits this description are the Cactus Fence/Wall Spikes from Amazon. These are really sharp, can be installed with glue on virtually any surface and they come with warning signs.

The Cactus Fence is better according to reviews, but the principle is the same:

But this might not be a good option for cat owners since these spikes will deal damage to any sentient being trying to climb the fence, including your pet.

Barbed wire and razor tape

Placing these items on your fence can make your property look like a prison facility. It can also be dangerous if used in regular settings where a lot of civilians are passing nearby.

You may have to get a planning permission and install it on a fence that’s at least 7 ft high or more. It would also require placing warning signs on the fence to warn people not to get too close.

While many burglars will try to avoid getting sliced by barbed wire and razor tape, others might come ready with heavy duty wire cutters and blankets.

So while barbed wire fencing is one of the better burglar deterrents (and pretty cheap!), it won’t make your property hundred percent burglar proof and it’s not very pleasing to the eye. But if you’re willing to look past these negatives, it could well be worth it.

Here’s a simple installation tutorial:

Broken glass set into mortar

This is another ugly, dangerous but decently effective solution against unprepared criminals. The main advantage is that broken glass is really cheap.

But an innocent passer by could get hurt by the glass so it’s important that you install it on a fence that’s at least 7-8 ft high. So check with your local authorities to see if this upgrade is even allowed where you live and if it is, inquire about the required height of the fencing and other details.

So you’d basically set the broken glass into mortar on top of the wall, and you’d also need to place warning signs of the specific danger.

This is an additional problem with this method. Because you’re informing the criminals in advance, so when they come, they’ll come prepared with a blanket and a hammer, ready to smash the glass.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps they will think it’s too much hassle and pick on an easier target, so the method will do its job as a deterrent. No one can predict the future so it really depends on the circumstances.

Spinning fence toppings

A rotating roller on top of a fence can make it harder for burglars and other animals to enter your property or escape from it.

It makes the top of the fence unstable so if you have a tall fence it can be quite difficult to climb over this obstacle. If it’s a small fence however it won’t make much of a difference.

There are many different rotating toppings, vertical and horizontal. Some contain spikes so they can lead to injuries, while others are non injurious.

The ones that contain spikes will probably have to be set at above 7.5 ft, while the ones that aren’t as dangerous can be placed on lower fences. These regulations will obviously depend on the local regulations.

Anti-climb paint

Anti climb paint is also known as non dry paint. The name speaks for itself; this paint doesn’t dry completely, so it’s slippery and will definitely leave a mark.

Many burglars will straight out avoid having to deal with a messy fence. The major downside of non dry paint is that it can catch a lot of environmental particles like dust and leaves. That’s why you should probably avoid painting with it during fall.

You can also bluff the intruders by using the anti-climb paint warning sign.

Warning signs

Speaking off warning signs, the best location for them is the fence. Warn potential criminals that your property is monitored by security cameras, a vicious guard dog, a 2nd amendment loving citizen or a dangerous fence.

Many intruders will avoid having to deal with any of these problems. Why would they, when there are so many homes and businesses that aren’t using any security at all?

So even if you’re making an empty bluff, placing a few warning signs on clearly visible spots across the fence will make the bad guys think twice before deciding to make the climb. There’s a great selection of warning signs and stickers on Amazon.

Final Word on Fence Security

Your fence is the first obstacle a burglar trying to enter your property will have to face.

By upgrading your fence with one or more of these methods you can strike fear into the criminal hearts and prevent them from even trying to climb inside. And if happen to take that chance, they’ll need to put in a lot more time and effort.

Which of these methods will work best for your situation depends on the type of fence you currently have in place, your budget and how much effort you’re willing to invest in this project.

On top of these methods, using outdoor security cameras and motion sensor floodlights can also help. Both as a deterrent, and as a way to receive timely alerts. You can receive alerts of criminal activity if you install cameras with motion sensors that can send notifications to your electronic device, the police or a security company.

Point the cameras at the areas surrounding the fence and you’ll be able to act on time in case anything happens. Especially if you also have motion sensor lights installed, which will illuminate the area if a criminal walks into it.

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Luka Baron

Chief editor of Security Latest with 5 years of real security work experience. I'm also a family man with wife and two sons. When I'm not turning homes into fortresses, the Baron family is usually on the Nintendo or on California's best hiking trails.

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