Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Here’s Who’s Buying Panic Rooms and Bullet-Proof Doors Amid Crime Fears in NYC — and It’s Not Who You’d Think; New York’s Panic-Room Boom From Installing Electrified Doorknobs to Ballistics-Grade Walk-In Closets, the City’s Ultrarich are Feeling Ultra-Paranoid

Here’s who’s buying panic rooms and bullet-proof doors amid crime fears in NYC — and it’s not who you’d think:
New Yorkers are fortifying their homes with panic rooms and bullet-proof doors like never before over fears about crime, migrants and national turmoil — and it’s not just the city’s elite partaking in the trend.
“Not every [customer] is an ultra-rich stockbroker — a lot of them are just people, middle-class kind of people,” said Steve Humble, founder of the home-defense contractor Creative Home Engineering.
“I’d say the pandemic really kicked off an uptick. Business was really good throughout the pandemic time, and it really hasn’t slowed down,” said Humble, who specializes in top-of-the-line secret doors disguised as bookshelves, fireplaces, mirrors, blank walls and whatever else a client can think of to conceal a safety room behind them.
He is one of numerous home-defense contractors who told The Post that the past four years have been a boon for business, with New Yorkers from all walks of life shelling out thousands of dollars to outfit their homes with hidden rooms, bulletproof doors and a swath of other covert security systems to keep the baddies at bay should they come knocking.
The driving force is a decline in New Yorkers’ sense of safety — assaults in the Big Apple reached 28,000 for the first time on record last year — and the perceptible shift toward volatile instability that many people feel is ramping up across all of American society, Humble and others say.
“Whether it’s real or perceived. People feel like crime is up,” Humble said, explaining he has installed “well over 100” doors in homes across New York, with middle-class homes in Queens and the Bronx standing out.
David Vranicar, whose company Fortified and Ballistic Security specializes in such things as bulletproof doors and windows, said New Yorkers from less affluent parts of Queens and Brooklyn have been driving his business in the city, too.
“Those are the people that actually need to stop bad guys from getting in the house,” Vranicar said.
“[What] my clients have been expressing to me is we saw how quickly society can break down during COVID,” he said. “So, what would happen if something really drastic happened? I think everybody’s a little scared.”
While Humble specializes in concealing without-a-trace hidden safe rooms, Vranicar’s defensive philosophy is focused on keeping the baddies moving on by fortifying points of entry such as front doors and windows.
“What we want to do is say, ‘If the riot breaks out, can I be secured?’ And the reality is, even if it’s bad, and they’re banging on your door, and they can’t get in, and it’s steel all the way around, they’re not coming in. They’re just not, and they’ll move on,” he explained. --->READ MORE HERE
Photo: Creative Home Engineering
New York’s Panic-Room Boom From installing electrified doorknobs to ballistics-grade walk-in closets, the city’s ultrarich are feeling ultra-paranoid:
Bill Rigdon can build you a closet that locks from the inside and has electrified door handles. He can install a device in your walls that will shoot colored pepper spray to temporarily blind intruders and stain their clothes for easy identification should they try to run. He can fortify your walk-in pantry with ballistics-grade composite to withstand nuclear fallout. He will also remind you that you will need a place to pee while riding out the end times. “I once had a Fox News reporter who had a whole plan for a basement bunker where 13, 14 people could stay for a period of time,” Rigdon, who also consulted on David Fincher’s 2002 movie Panic Room, tells me. “But there was no bathroom.” Rigdon would neither confirm nor deny the client was Roger Ailes.
Rigdon, a jovial Angeleno who also trades in yachts, armored vehicles, and art, is one of the longest-running figures in the panic-room industry, having started out 40 years ago building bunkers for Mormons in Nevada. But Rigdon’s business, like so many others in this niche market, has been booming out east in the last year or so, as New York’s wealthiest residents clamor to protect themselves in a city they see as increasingly doomed. “I’ve never been busier,” Rigdon says.
David Vranicar, who owns Fortified Ballistic Security in Florida, agrees that there’s a bit of a boom in the city right now. “People are not feeling safe the way they used to,” he tells me. “New York has gotten really busy for us lately.” Another panic-room outfitter, Steve Humble of Creative Home Engineering, saw his first bump in business here around the anti-police-violence protests that erupted in the summer of 2020. “That wave has kind of died down but it was replaced in large part by the persistent uptick in violent crime in large cities like New York.” (Violent crimes actually fell in the city last year, though assaults remain high.) New Yorkers with the means to do it are “locking down,” he says, from reinforcing a single front door in their West Village townhouses to tricking out secret cellars in their Upper East Side mansions.
The safe room has always had a certain presence in New York. In addition to roaming celebrities and billionaires, there are government officials and embassies who require these James Bond–style features in their palatial homes. (Rigdon says he signs NDAs for all his clients but was able to disclose that they include a “famous piano player from England who wears funny glasses” and “a TV host who’s very famous with a friend named Gayle,” and he once got a call from Jeffrey Epstein’s brother.) The Henry Block House, a Beaux-Arts brownstone on East 76th Street that was once owned by Grace Kelly, has a secret cellar and separate safe room. Another Beaux-Arts mansion at 854 Fifth Avenue has bulletproof windows and “a metal-padded safe room with a Faraday cage to fend off electromagnetic fields,” according to the Robb Report, because it was once home to the president of Yugoslavia. Gwyneth Paltrow was said to have had a safe room in her former West Village Greek Revival townhouse, although a spokesman later said she just “stored her clothes in it.” Now the market has expanded from the notoriously rich to the more mundane ranks of the merely ultrawealthy, Fortune 500 CEOs and the like who are non-famous but just as worried about roving home invaders, thieves, and kidnappers. --->READ MORE HERE
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