Tuesday, July 8, 2008

ELITE ETHNOGRAPHY

Forbes Burglars beware. There's a house not far from New York City that's waiting for you. Force entry through one of the bulletproof doors or windows and you'll trigger hidden shotguns loaded with non-lethal ammo. If somehow you're still standing, the owner can retreat to a hidden, fortified room where he can flood the rest of the house with tear gas.

Other security features include biometric scanners and trap doors. The fortress cost its owner (a prosperous hedge fund manager who we've agreed not to name) $10 million to build. It highlights just how concerned the ultra-wealthy are about their safety, and how much they're willing to pay to protect themselves. . .

Paranoid? Maybe not. The hedge fund manager mentioned above was once kidnapped during a trip overseas. Sears chairman and billionaire Eddie Lampert was abducted in 2003. Successful banker Ernest Rady was bound and shot with a stun gun during a robbery at his home last year.

More recently, a camouflaged man tried to break into the home of Warren Buffett. He was fought off by an alert guard, which is a common security measure of the affluent. It's an expensive one, too. Experienced professionals, usually drawn from law enforcement and the military, can cost $400 per hour.

The hefty pay buys experience and plenty of loyalty. Billionaire Henry Nicholas hired a former Navy SEAL to guard his children. Earlier this week, the bodyguard was thrown in jail for refusing to cooperate with an investigation into Nicholas’ former company, "SEALs don't snitch," explained the jailed man’s lawyer.

Also loyal are the guard dogs. These aren’t mutts from the classifieds though. These are specially trained German Shepherds that can run up to $55,000 each. The valuable canines receive years of intensive training to greet their owners with wagging tail but enemies with a vicious bite.

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