Panic Room Maker Says Business Is Hot: 'People Are Scared to Death'

Bill Rigdon says people are seeking out extra security in the face of civil unrest, election fears
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2024 9:30 AM CDT
Panic Room Maker Says Business Is Hot: 'People Are Scared to Death'
Get thee to the bunker!   (Getty Images/meteo160)

Worried about how November is going to go, or if Civil War the movie might come to fruition in real life? Talk to Bill Rigdon, whose company Building Consensus Inc. is tasked with erecting panic rooms, bunkers, and the like for an uneasy population. What he's being asked most these days is: "'How can I protect myself with the upcoming election and the civil unrest that I'm watching on the news every day?' People are scared to death," Rigdon says, per Fox Business, which notes his specialization lies in "state-of-the-art steel-reinforced concrete structures that are equipped with high-tech mechanical and electric installation."

Rigdon, a consultant for the 2002 film Panic Room, says there's always been a healthy demand for his services among celebrities, but there's been an increase in interest overall over the past several months, especially in New York City. In addition to the ostensibly impenetrable exteriors of his safe spaces, Rigdon's security plan can incorporate such features as electrified door handles; colored pepper spray that "will temporarily blind the intruders and stain their clothing, making them easier to identify if they try to escape," per ForumDaily; and even drones that drop nets on those fleeing. It's not a task for amateurs, Rigdon says.

"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 tells Curbed. "But there was no bathroom." The outlet notes that "Rigdon would neither confirm nor deny the client was Roger Ailes." There have been other periods when experts saw a spike in panic room requests, including during the peak of the pandemic, amid the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, and after the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, when both Democratic and GOP politicians started reaching out to bolster their home security.

story continues below

Rigdon won't say who his clients are (he signs NDAs), but he offers hints on a "famous piano player from England who wears funny glasses" and "a TV host who's very famous with a friend named Gayle." So how much can a setup like this cost you? It can run into the millions, Rigdon says. A heavy, ballistic-frame security door alone can cost upward of $50,000. Don't have wallets that deep? Rigdon recommends stockpiling 30 days' worth of freeze-dried food and hoping for the best. (More panic room stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.