Deep Inside the Booming Market for Houston Hunker Bunkers and Panic Rooms

DEEP INSIDE THE BOOMING MARKET FOR HOUSTON HUNKER BUNKERS AND PANIC ROOMS Safes R Us Fort Knox Vault RoomThe Houston area is Atlas Survival Shelters’ best market in the U.S., the California company’s owner tells Houstonia‘s Peter Holley. But who buys the sort of underground bunkers outfitted with a mud room, bunk beds, a kitchen, and a separate escape hatch Atlas markets? That’s a secret, because bunker buyers don’t like to talk about what they’re prepping, and often mask their identities from the security-hawking companies themselves. Holley figures out the contours of the survivalist boom, though: “For several years Houston has been in the throes of a frenzy of domicile defense, with many homeowners throughout the region spending five figures or more to turn their suburban abodes into veritable fortresses, employing elaborate and perhaps dangerous methods in the process. Meanwhile, for companies that sell panic rooms, freeze-dried food, weapons, secret passageways, safes, spy equipment, and booby traps, business is booming, especially in and around the Bayou City.” A bit cheaper than a dedicated 10-ft.-by-40-ft. underground shelter-in-a-pipe is the $20,000 Fort Knox vault room (a version of which is pictured above on a new-construction site), “a Porta-Potty–size walk-in vault that has been in high demand for several years, especially in Houston, according to Safes R Us owner Eric Bristol, whose store is located off the East Freeway,” Holley writes. “He noted that a single room weighs 20,000 pounds and is encased in harder concrete than the type used to construct highways. Walk inside, swing the 1,300-pound door shut, and you might find that feelings of impenetrability are hard to separate from feelings of panic. ‘My daughter can’t be in here more than a few seconds before feeling claustrophobic,’ Bristol said, pulling a lever and sealing the tiny room during a visit to the Safes R Us showroom. ‘But I’ve sold hundreds of these things over the last few years because people are worried about rising crime, and they know that you’d need a tank to break open one of these babies.'” [Houstonia] Photo: Safes R Us

19 Comment

  • Sure, it costs $20,000 and is terrifyingly claustrophobic, but where else can you hide on National Night Out?

  • I shall call it my ANTI-redistribution of wealth device.

  • A true chicken or the egg quandry: are idiots drawn to the Houston area, or do people become idiots as a result of living in the Houston area?

  • what kind of a person worries about rising crime as a reason for a panic room when crime has been steadily decreasing for a long while and is now at a 40-yr low? guess you have to skim a lot more money off the top of humanity than I have to be concerned with such utter wastefulness. no surprise to see Houston at that the top of that list though.

  • I think I might rather be shot in a home invasion than spend more than 30 seconds in one of those cement “panic rooms”. Holy claustrophobia, Batman.

  • I’d imagine that panic rooms, vaults, and bunkers are not yet classified by HCAD as distinct ‘extra features’ with additional taxable value. That’d be a plus if you’re able to add some usable square footage to your living area.

  • Paranoid freaks

  • For some reason, there are a bunch of people who think crime is worse than ever. Some of the blame belongs to TV news and its never ending desire for dramatic stories, but I think we have created a society of worriers.

  • Most of the homes we work on with this kind of stuff going in belong to folks with middle-eastern origins. They know how fucked up shit can get…

  • While one may need a tank to knock it down, if all hell breaks loose, there is not going to be anyone to come to your rescue, and I’d imagine these are not designed for a long term stay or good cell phone reception (at least the one pictured).

  • And, recently the preferred location to commit suicide by Mr. Cullen.

  • Anybody ever read Devil in the White City? Or, to put it another way: are we sure these can’t be locked from the outside?

  • Ironically, if the paranoid ultra-nationalist end-time preppers scare themselves enough to lock themselves in these concrete tombs, it is society at large that becomes safer. So I’m all for it.

  • If some punk thugs make the mistake of busting into my house, they’ll soon be looking for a panic room of their own to hide in.

  • What happens when the bad guys disable your air supply?

  • If a safe, or supply of dried food, or a panic room or hell – door locks – are not your thing then so be it. But I’m curious about all the hate towards people that might buy one if these. I mean, they’re not for me (I don’t even lock my front door, which drives my wife nuts) but if some wants something like this as a just-in-case insurance type deal, what’s it to anyone else?

  • Cody, I believe it’s because, if I were to draw you a venn diagram of “people who buy panic room bunkers” and “people who wind up shooting up their neighborhood/Jewish Community Center/kid buying skittles and iced tea,” there would be more overlap than we really want in our society.

  • ^^Bovine excrement.

  • I’m with Cody on this one, why all the hate? I keep some food storage, but have no interest in said panic room. SemperFudge’s rebuttal is purely speculative (but then I guess so are most of the things we talk about on this blog). I do think it’d be awesome to have secret tunnels ala Professor Xavier’s X-Mansion. Alas, on my tiny townhouse plat, I’d have nowhere to go. :)