How prepared are you against home intrusions? Tips for home security and self-defense you don't get every day

Home Security means different things to different people. When the topic of home security is raised in community meetings, most people are thinking of securing their homes from burglary or other intrusions. The fact is, keeping your home safe from burglary is not terribly difficult. First, let us take a look at what the term burglary means. A simplistic definition, that will serve this article is to describe a burglary as the unlawful entry into your house for the purpose of either committing a theft (of any value) or a felony. So, if someone breaks into your house while you are not home, and they steal the family heirlooms, regardless of the value of the heirlooms, this is a burglary. If someone breaks into your house with the intent to feloniously assault you, this too is a burglary. Most theft related burglaries occur during the day. Any burglary can be an emotionally scaring event leaving the residents feeling violated and vulnerable.

Daytime burglaries are easily prevented in a variety of means. All of them come back to the same concept. Make your home less attractive to break into, than another location. Obviously, keep all doors and windows closed and locked when you are not home. This also applies if you are home, and not able to be attentive to security measures. For example, if you are home alone and in the shower, take the same precautions you would take if you left for the day. More than once a person has stepped out of the shower to find an unwanted intruder in their home. This can be a terribly vulnerable moment for both women and men.

Use quality locks on your doors and your windows. Simple latches or wooden dowels fit into a window grove will prevent the window from being opened and will allow for easy removal when you want to open the window. All exterior doors as well as doors from a garage to the interior, should have a quality deadbolt. Back doors are a favorite of burglars because they are often hidden from street view, giving the thief additional time and concealment.  On that topic, if you have large plants blocking your windows from the street view, consider pruning them back to take away the concealment. Or, if you are so inclined, do what I did, plant things with vicious thorns under your windows to deter people from approaching them. Kei Apple bushes and some rose bushes have terrific thorns that will deter all but the most committed person from approaching them.

home security

There are also many quality products on the market that will record video and let you hear and speak with people at your door. I use several of these and find them to be very effective. Even if you are at work, you can give the impression you are home and do not want to come to the door. Several of these systems will even let you remotely activate an audible alarm while you view video on any smart phone. Most criminals are aware of this technology and once they realize it is in place, they will seek another target. All these tools together will make up a formidable home security system. Some have the added benefit of video recording should such evidence become necessary.

How about the home break in that occurs while you are home? Perhaps that sound of breaking glass in the middle of the night. Or a stranger (or ex..) pounding on the front door, threatening to break in. How does one best address these threats? You must have a plan and an order of priorities. I suggest the following, in this order. Grab your cell phone or portable phone and call 9-1-1. The police may have an extended drive, so start them on the way as soon as you think they are needed. Next, if you have any other family members, consolidate the family in one room. This may likely be a child’s room or if you live with an elderly or disabled person, their room. The idea is to not have to later try and gather or find family members. If you are concerned that someone might be in your home, or in the process of breaking into your home, you really have just a few reasonable choices. One is to barricade yourself and family members in one place/ the other is to actively go looking for the person to confront them. For many people, the latter is their first instinct but before you go charging off, consider these things. You do not know how many people are involved. You do not know if they are armed. You have no idea of their motivations. And finally, the only thing in your home worth protecting by taking a life, is your life and that of your family. Confronting a would-be burglar, who is stealing your property feels like a good idea but if it results in you being injured or killed, just to protect your belongings, then you have acted rashly for property that can be replaced. And consider this, do you have the situational awareness to go hunting for a criminal, even in your own home? I would advocate sheltering in place with the family/residents consolidated to best protect that which is really important. Human life.

As for calling 9-1-1, do not hang up until the operator tells you the responding officers are at your house. Leave the line open so the operator can hear what is occurring, to create a recorded record of the incident, and so you can update the dispatcher as the situation unfolds. Understand that police response times vary, but it will likely be minutes. Many agencies have a standard or goal response time for such calls. It is longer than you might think and it will seem like an eternity when you are cowering in your child’s bedroom waiting for help. Be patient and resist the temptation to leave your sheltered space to find out what is happening.

Finally, we come to the issue of weapons. Should you arm yourself? That is a highly subjective question. I will offer this advice on the matter. Anything besides a firearm is a second-rate tool for self-defense. A baseball bat, golf club, bug spray, or any of the other internet suggestions are all considerably less effective. By a large margin. And they all require you get close to the intruder. Are you physically and emotionally prepared to approach a drug crazed burglar and fight them off using a golf club? That requires a significant commitment to the battle. And many of these internet suggestions also require some room to wield the weapon. At the end of the day, nothing on your house is a better fight stopper than a firearm. But the possession and use of a gun requires maturity and commitment.  

Many have opined that owning a gun is just an invitation for the burglar to take it from you and use it against you. Let us consider this notion for a moment. A window is smashed in at your house. You call 9-1-1, grab your defensive firearm and run to your children’s room. You consolidate your family, close the door and wait for the police, with the phone line open. Now the intruder is walking down the hall. You cower behind a bed or dresser, watching the door intently. The intruder kicks the door open. At that point, are you going to allow them to “take your gun” before you actually use it? The smart home owner would call out that they have a gun and demand the intruder leave. Once the door opens, the prepared homeowner may very well shoot the previously warned person, properly reasoning that they are now actively attacking either you or your family. With just a weekend of proper training, and some sustainment practice, a firearm will be the absolute best tool for self-defense in the home.

self defense gun

Do people actually use firearms for home defense or is this another urban legend?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) actually spent 10 million dollars studying gun violence. They learned that the defense gun use is much more prevalent than previously thought. The report by the CDC included this, “Defensive uses of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed. Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.” The fact is, many defensive gun use incidents go unreported for a variety of reasons. So, while we do not have a true figure, we do know that reported defensive gun use is a considerable quantity and a proven deterrent to violent crime. Defensive gun use by homeowners is rarely seen by the intruder as an opportunity to “take the gun away” and use it on the homeowner. However, with the firearm ownership, comes great responsibility. If you do decide to make a gun a part of your home security plan, you must ensure it is kept secured from children and otherwise responsibly stored and handled. Furthermore, ownership without proper training in it’s use, is a folly at best, and a potential tragedy at worst.

Whatever you decide, please be safe and prepared.

 

About the writer

Mike Lazarus

Military and Law Enforcement Veteran

FBI certified firearm instructor

MP5 and Sub Machine gun instructor

Defensive tactics instructor


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