- For the 1926 film, see Mantrap (film), for the 1953 film, see Mantrap (1953 film), for the first episode of the original Star Trek series, see The Man Trap. For the short film, see ABC Mantrap.
Man-traps are physical security devices or constructions designed to entrap a person.
Historically man-traps were mechanical devices for catching poachers
and trespassers. The devices have taken many forms, the most usual being like a large bear trap
, the steel springs being armed with teeth which met in the victim's leg. Since 1827, they have been illegal in England
, except in houses between sunset and sunrise as a defence against burglars. The term is also generally used of individuals likely to entrap others, such as into marital agreement.
A common man-trap in modern physical security protocols includes having two sets of doors such that the first set of doors must close before the second set opens. Identification must be provided for each door, often different measures for each door. For example, a key
may open the first door, but a personal identification number
entered on a number pad
opens the second. These man-traps can be configured so that when an alarm is activated, all doors lock and trap the suspect between the doors in the "dead-space."
In a lower-security variation of a man-trap, banks often locate automated teller machines within the dead-space between the entrance doors and the interior lobby doors to prevent ATM robbery and night-time walk-up robberies. Entry access by ATM card to the dead-space offers additional customer protection.
Mantraps that use deadly force are illegal in the United States, and there have been notable tort law cases where the trespasser has successfully sued the property owner for damages caused by the mantrap. As noted in the important US mantrap case of Katko v. Briney, "the law has always placed a higher value upon human safety than upon mere rights of property.