I was a young kid when I got my first taste of what it’s like to have your home robbed. A burglar stole a television from our home in Denver. I don’t think I really understood the true depth of the issue then, but I consider home defense critical today.
In 2016, the FBI estimated that nearly 8 million property crimes were committed. Each of those crimes has a victim, and that victim could be you.
When someone invades your home, it’s not just your possessions they are taking. They are also taking away your sense of security. You recognize your vulnerability and begin to feel weak. If you are the protector of your home, you can begin to feel inadequate. If you’re lucky, your family will be safe. In many cases, people are injured or even killed.
Rather than being another victim, be the hero of your home. By following these eight steps, you can prevent most home invasions before they occur.
Avoid Becoming The Target
A home robbery begins long before burglars actually break-in. Experts in home invasions are not careless. Most burglars observe and research their victims’ homes before breaking into them. They want to know what they can steal, how quickly they can get in and out, and when is the best time to enter.
1 – Showing The Goods
It’s natural to want to show off your valuables. Many, like jewelry and art, are specifically meant to be shown. However, they should only be shown to those you know and trust, or in the appropriate circumstances. It’s ok to wear a nice watch or necklace out on the town. But don’t leave them in plain sight when you are not wearing them.
You should also keep expensive household goods from view. It might seem odd to think of hiding that flat screen television, but it is important. Make sure to keep blinds closed on windows that show these items, especially at night. It is much easier to look into a window at night than it is during the day. It is also more obvious when someone is trying to case your house during the day. So if you need that natural light in the daytime, just remember to close the blinds at night.
Outside objects can draw attention as well. A nice car or expensive lawn ornaments can attract the attention of thieves and indicate that valuable objects might be inside. Park your car in a garage if possible and try to remove anything from the lawn or driveway that might indicate wealth.
2 – Deny Entry Routes
A good home defense strategy really starts at the entrance to your property. If you have a fence along your property, make sure to close and lock it. This is especially important if it is a privacy fence since it will obscure the intruder from neighbors if they get past it.
Another thing criminals look for when looking for an entry is hiding places in your yard. Thick bushes and trees may provide a great hiding place for a criminal to get a better look at your property. By keeping your bushes trimmed low or narrow, you deny this space to a criminal trying to get closer to your front door.
You should also be consider lighting at this point. Motion sensor lights and other outdoor lighting can keep criminals from approaching your house in the first place.
Many have pointed out that lighting may actually help the criminal gain access to your home. This is true if the lighting is accent lighting that doesn’t expose the thief. Proper lighting that exposes people on your property is incredibly valuable for home defense.
Even if the potential thief makes it to your home, there are plenty of ways to discourage them from entering. It’s always better to stop them before they get in that try to deal with the loss of good or confrontation.
3 – Make The House Look Occupied, Even When It’s Not
There are many ways to keep a house looking occupied. It all starts with making sure it doesn’t look abandoned. If you take off for a while for vacation or a business trip, make sure that someone is looking after the house for you. This includes mowing the lawn, picking up newspapers and mail, and taking care of any other trash or yard debris that you would generally pick up.
You can take this a step further by asking them to follow some of your normal routines. For example, if your trash goes out on the same day each week, ask them to take out the cans and put them away when they do theirs. You can also ask them to look for stickers or flyers stuck in the door. Thieves will often leave some sort of marking on the door that a homeowner would pick up to test the occupancy of the home.
Indoor lights can use timers to show activity within the home. The fake TV is a great option to fool an observer into believing someone is at home in the evenings. Other lights like bedroom lamps can also be put on a timer to make it look like a routine is being followed.
4 – Windows and Doors
Short of investing in new windows, there are security measures you can take to secure your existing windows. Windows have latches, not locks. If burglars can reach in (through a crack) with a tool, then they may be able to unlatch a window from the outside. To make windows more secure, place bolts or screws on sliding windows to ensure they don’t open far enough for a burglar to enter. You may want to leave these out enough that you can remove them if you need the window open all the way. Just ensure that they are far enough in that they will stop the window from being forced open.
If a burglar can’t open the window, then they have to break the glass. Windows and doors with reinforced glass are an ideal way to combat this problem. If you don’t want to invest in new windows, there is another great option. 3M™ Security Window Films covers window glass making it harder to penetrate. Glass fragments hold together even after the window is struck repeatedly. The film maintains window appearance and impedes burglars by making it harder to break-in. You can find the appropriate film at most window stores.
Unfortunately, YouTube won’t let me show the video of this film here, but you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96x2tO9Xuxw
Make sure your doors are made from strong materials, otherwise intruders can get in by force. Doors made from metal and solid wood are ideal. They both last a long time and offer sturdy protection. Ensure that any additional entrances such as to the garage also have these solid doors.
If you have a solid door, it may be the frame that becomes the weakest point. You can reinforce the strength of the door by adding a simple door brace. They can be purchased on Amazon for about $40 and provide significant protection against a door be smashed in. You can find them them here: http://amzn.to/2semKyp
Most door locks in America are Kwikset locks. Simply by being the most common, these locks are often the ones criminals have the most experience with. We recommend Schlage locks and a quick swap could be a valuable investment.
Home Defense Tools
Sometimes there’s just no stopping a criminal from getting into your home. That’s when it’s time to look at your defense strategy. Your strategy doesn’t need to be heroic or complex, it just needs to protect you and your family.
5 – Home Defense Firearms
Just about any firearm can serve as a home defense firearm. Some are better than others and some may just be rediculous, but any firearm is better than no firearm.
Shotguns are a great option. You can switch out your type of ammunition to meet your needs. Generally speaking, the problem with shotguns is the capacity of the ammunition. Magazine fed shotguns are notoriously unreliable and breach shotguns only hold one or two rounds. I recommend a pump-action shotgun because they are reliable and effective. You may want to load it with a couple of rounds of birdshot to be fired first if you are concerned with over penetration.
Rifles are a fantastic option. I would avoid rifles that are very long, too heavy to maneuver, or have a bolt-action. Semi-automatic rifles are preferred and you can really use whichever caliber you prefer. Just make sure that if your rifle is your only option, you have a plan to get to it before the criminal gets to you.
While pistols would be my least preferred method, they do have some advantages. The primary advantage is that you can always have it with you. Unlike a rifle or a shotgun, you can comfortably carry your pistol around your house, concealed or otherwise.
6 – Pets For Home Defense
Without a doubt, dogs and other pets can be invaluable for home defense. Dogs can serve as deterrents, early warning assistants, and protectors. Luckily, we’ve recently published the first two parts in a series on specially trained dogs. So instead of sharing my personal opinions, I’ll share these articles from a professional dog trainer:
These articles should not only help you understand the capabilities of dogs, but also how to get properly trained dogs that will really do the job.
Catching The Thieves
When you can’t stop a burglar from entering, the next best thing is to get him off the streets. Hopefully, you’ll recover any stolen belongings if he is caught. But at a minimum, you’ll prevent him from continuing to rob or harm others.
You can help law enforcement by providing as much information as possible as quickly as possible.
7 – Home Security Systems
Home security cameras can play a huge role in your home defense plan. They can provide you advanced notice of an entry as well as alert the police. No matter your plans, having the most advanced notice possible is critical to executing them properly. The alarm system can alert you when the criminal is still at his point of entry. This allows you to wake up, get to your preferred firearm, or consolidate your family if necessary.
But notifying the police is just as important. Most home robberies take only in 8-12 minutes. The criminals know what they want and where to find it. So they get in and out as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, police response times tend to average around 10 minutes and can be far slower in some locations. When you need the police at your house, every moment counts and an alarm that notifies local law enforcement can make the difference.
8 – Video Cameras
It may surprise you just how valuable cameras are in collecting information. About a year ago a criminal broke into a friend’s house. The thief covered his face, but because of the cameras police were able to find prints in places they wouldn’t normally look.
Cameras can help identify subjects in many ways. They can capture images of any vehicles used, where a criminal went, and other identifying features. If your camera system uses cloud storage, this information can even be provided to law enforcement in real time. Just keep in mind that there are privacy risks when using this method as the video is always live and usually only protected by a basic password.
Make A Home Defense Plan Now!
Far too often, people wait until an intruder has entered their home to start planning. These plans need to take into consideration:
- The layout and construction of your home.
- Entry points intruders are most likely to use.
- The ability of family members to respond on their own.
- Where your family members are located throughout the day.
These personal points, combined with the concepts in this article should give you plenty of information to make an effective plan. Test your plan using the crawl-walk-run method.
The crawl phase is where each person explains what they would do during a home invasion. You may have different plans based on different scenarios, so make sure each is discussed.
Walking through the process just gives everyone an opportunity to commit these actions to memory. This step is often overlooked, but is an important one. By practicing your actions at a relaxed pace, it gives participants the opportunity to consider options and identify potential flaws in the plan.
The run phase is where you test your plan at full speed. You may not want anyone running in this test, but have them attempt to do things at the most realistic speed possible.