Amid crime concerns, city of Sacramento sees rise in applications for electric fences

Sacramento Business Journal
By Ben van der Meer
December 13, 2023

Applications for new urban infill projects or office buildings might have slumped in Sacramento this year, but another kind of building project saw steady demand all year long — and the reason, if you’ll pardon the pun, isn’t shocking.

Through early November, the city received 22 applications for new electric fencing at commercial properties, according to the city’s community development department.

“The reason for a majority of these requests is catalytic converter or equipment theft,” said department spokesperson Kelli Trapani in an email, citing project applications.

City information on how many electric fence applications were received in previous years was not immediately available. But one of the applicants said such fencing became the only way to prevent thefts at his Power Inn Road area property at 5050 84th St.

“We’ve tried everything from lighting to reinforced fences, but they still find a way,” said Joseph Vazquez, branch manager for roofing products company Beacon Building Products.

In the last three years, two company properties in Sacramento, as well as McClellan Business Park and Rancho Cordova, saw a surge of break-ins. In just the last six months, he said, his Sacramento sites saw 11 different break-ins, causing $5,000 to $25,000 in estimates of damage and stolen property each time, he said.

A separate break-in recently at McClellan, he added, cost $500,000 in damages and stolen property. The company is now planning to install electric fencing at all of its Sacramento region locations, hopefully as soon as next year, he said.

Trapani said the city generally approves electric fence requests in industrial areas, as long as they’re not next to a sensitive property use such as a school, or a residential area.

Of the 22 locations submitted, she said, the applicant withdrew in four situations, the city denied two for the reasons cited earlier, city officials approved 13, and three were still under review as of Nov. 16.

Both conventional types of industrial users, such as Beacon Building, and ones that have emerged in recent years, such as cannabis growing operations, have applied for such permits. For two properties on Railroad Drive in Sacramento with approved permits for the latter, the city earlier this year approved permits for electric fences, now installed and operating.

One of those permits had an estimated value of $22,950, which doesn’t include ongoing costs for keeping a fence continually charged with 7,000 volts of electricity.

But Vazquez, of Beacon Building, said his company’s experience in other places makes the case for doing so. Locations in Stockton and Modesto also had a spate of break-ins a few years back, he said, until electric fences went up.

“It nipped it in the bud,” he said.

Read more in the Sacramento Business Journal.

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