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Planning revisits electrified fencing ban

POSTED December 7, 2012 11:24 p.m.

Criminals could get a bit of a shock the next time they try to break into a secured area.

Electrified security fences may soon be made legal in the City of Turlock, following an early endorsement from the Turlock Planning Commission on Thursday.

“I think it’s a legitimate request,” said Planning Commission Chair Michael Brem. “… Let’s just get on with this, and let’s get it done as quickly as we can.”

The commission’s decision to review electrified fences follows an October request from Jon Rudd, of new heavy machinery rental company Volvo Rents. Rudd said at the time that his business, located at 1400 South Ave., is in need of electrified fencing to protect more than $6 million worth of equipment from wannabe thieves.

“It’s in a heavily trafficked area for bad guys,” Rudd said.

Razor wire and barbed wire are not effective; criminals will simply through a rug over the fence and climb over, or cut holes through the chain-link, said the business owner.

Rudd, who previously worked for United Rentals, said that business was broken into at least once a month, losing thousands of dollars worth of goods each time, until an electric fence was installed.

 “As soon as we put that in, it stopped,” Rudd said. “It’s not there to hurt people; it’s there to keep bad guys out.”

Volvo Rents’ opening has been delayed, over arguments with Turlock about the need for electrified fencing. The company has already installed an electrified fence, behind an existing chain-link fence.

Electrified fences have been illegal in Turlock since at least the mid-1990s, according to Turlock Planning Manager Debbie Whitmore. But with thefts on the rise, Whitmore said it might be time to change the law.

“This is a request we get often from industrial users,” Whitmore said.

With the Planning Commission’s agreement, Turlock’s Planning Division will now research electric fence policies of neighboring communities.

Commissioners will then review those policies, determining where electrified fences should be allowed, aesthetic requirements, and safety considerations. For example, such fences could be allowed only in Industrial zoned areas, and may be required to have a non-electrified perimeter fence outside of the electric fence.

“In Sacramento they're having the same discussion about electric fences for the same reasons,” said Commissioner Victor Pedroza.

According to Michael Pate, director of business development for The Electric Guard Dog, the company which installed Volvo Rents’ fence, San Bernardino and Stockton have both recently changed their codes to allow such fences.

Pate said the electrified fences aren’t designed to do lasting damage, powered only by a solar-powered 12-volt battery. But, through amplification, the fence zaps criminals with between 7,000 and 9,000 volts while calling security when detecting a thief.

“It’s a memorable experience,” Pate said.

In the short term, Volvo Rents’ fence will be transformed into a sensor fence, allowing the development to open. Turlock code will likely be amended to allow electric fences in the first half of 2013, following Planning Commission review.

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