We talk a lot about personal defense in regards to concealed carry, firearms training, firearms practice and firearms safety. But, when is the last time you actually had a sit-down discussion with your entire family about the defense of your home, your castle? Unfortunately this is where the majority of crimes are committed… home invasions, many resulting in murdering the family or the person home. In this post I want to discuss steps and items you can apply to defend your home.
Many of you who take the time to read my blog know that I love research. I love to read, I love to search on line and I love talking to the people “in-the-know” when I am looking for information, facts, real life historical context. Fiction is just that, and I am not really into fiction. So, let’s get started.
According to Global Security Experts, Inc., 1. Home burgleries occur every 15 seconds, 2. Most home intruders force their way through the front door and 3. 1 out of every 5 homes will be victimized by a violent home invasion or burglery (http://www.globalsecurityexperts.com/home-security/crime-prevention-advice/home-invasion-stats.html).
According to the FBI (www.fbi.gov) 38% of assaults and 60% of rapes occur during home invasions and statistically, there are over 8,000 home invasions per day in North America. Below is a list of additional FBI compiled stats:
Each year 13% of homes are burglarized
19.2% of rental properties are burglarized per year
85% of all break-ins are through the door
67% of all burglaries involved forcible entry
38% of all assaults occur during a home invasion
60% of all rapes occur during a home invasion
70% of burglaries involve residential properties
Burglaries happen between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Home Invasions happen between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
FBI stats show only 12%- 13% of burglars are ever apprehended.
And you say, and I have said it too, “this could never happen in my neighborhood”! Guess what, we each have a 1 in 5 chance of having our home invaded! If you haven’t been serious about preparing for the defense of your home before, now is a great time to get started!
I am going to take some “thunder” from a magazine I recently started purchasing. It’s called Home Defender and it’s published by Gun World. This is an incredibly well done, well thought out and extremely useful and informative magazine. Some of the tips I am going to relay will be personal, from things I have learned from the experts over the years and some will come out of a couple articles in two issues of the Home Defender magazine.
One thing I started noticing when I first started taking tactical shooting courses is the reverberation of a very necessary mantra, if you will. Be very familiar with your surroundings at all times. Since we are discussing home defense let’s stay on course (ok, I am telling myself to stay on course). When is the last time you performed a “perimeter check”? Here are somethings to do, look for, in walking the outside of your property:
*Make sure that your house number is clearly visible, day or night, in case law enforcement or EMS needs to come out.
*If you have a shrubs in front of your front windows, trim them down! Make sure they are NOT covering your front windows. You may need to see out and the police may need to see in! The types of shrubs in front of your windows… consider rose bushes, or if you are in a tropical or southern climate, consider planting bouganvilla. Between thick rose plants or bouganvilla, someone will think twice about hiding in those bushes!
*Exterior lighting… consider motion detection flood lights for the front garage, any exterior doors and the sides and back of the house. If they go off, do not become complacent, check it out. If you have a dog, have your dog check it out.. they will spot and smell something “fishy” before you or I ever will!
*Do you have a front porch? Clear of it of any large potted trees or big pieces of furniture that someone could hide behind.
*Make sure your peep hole in the front door is clean and clear.
*Do you have a fenced in yard? Keep it locked! “But then my yard guy can’t get in”, well, if you can’t trust him to do your yard either when you are home or with a padlock key then it’s time to get a new yard guy!
*If you own an older home there is a strong chance that your cicuit box is located outside. Put a pad lock on it! That is an easy and quick way for a home invader to take you off guard. No power means you are disoriented and now the invader has the upper hand.
*Make certain that all of your exterior doors have dead bolt locks. When we built our home we also included the security kick-proof plates for the exterior doors. It has been proven that doors with standard wooden door jams with door knob strike plates are easy to kick in. Most door jams and strike plates are screwed in with only 1.5-2″ wood screws. With the addition of the kick-proof plates themselves they are installed using 3″ screws via the entire length of the door jam. This makes it nearly impossible to kick in.
*Do you have a good relationship with the neighbors on each side of you, directly in front of you and directly behind you? If so they can be a deterent to a home invasion as well. I have one neighbor who has dubbed herself the Mrs. Gladys Kravits of our neighborhood! She is also one of my firearms students, so she is good to have around! It would be a wise decison to think about involving your neighbors in your exterior preparedness!
Being accutely aware of your surroundings could prove the key factor in saving your life! Last year, in the neighborhood we had just moved from, a man came home from work very late. He was a business man and almost always wore a suit coat. He pulled into his driveway after dusk and got out of his car. He noticed his garbage can had been moved and immediately became suspicous. At the moment he walked over to investigate a young man lept out of the trash can with a gun. The home owner, already on edge, was prepared… he is a licensed concealed firearm carrier and immediately pulled his gun and shot the attacker. Do you pull up quickly into your driveway, talking on the phone, thinking about the issues at work or thumbing through the mail you just picked up? If so then that means you are not observing your castle entrance! Is anything out of place? Notice any noticably dark areas that need attention? Do you drive right into the garage, walk in to the house and then close the garage door? Change your habits, immediately! Get off the phone, put down the mail and pay attention to your home. When pulling into the garage do NOT get out of your car and then close the garage door. Pull in, close the garage door and then get out and proceed inside. While waiting for the garage door to go down, prepare yourself. Have your CCW at the ready, just in case. Many home invaders gain entrance through the garage because people do not immediately put down their garage doors.
Common sense things to do: If you are on vacation stop your mail and your news paper delivery! Put timers on 2 or 3 different lights in the home. If you can control them through your smart phone app via your security service, then randomly change the times they go on and off. Have a friend visit the house once in awhile while you are gone to make it look like someone is home. If you have just made a “luxury” item purchase (i.e. large flat screen TV, computer, laptop, etc.) do not put the box out in full view for the trashmen to pick up. Cut up the box, and put the writing/pictures inward or downward and not facing the street. If necessary, bag it!!! And, in no circumstances should you EVER open your door to a stranger after dusk! You are inviting disaster if you do.
Home defense items for inside the home:
*Personal defense firearm of choice (whether that be a handgun, shotgun ~ but dear God NOT a pistol grip shotgun, an AR style rifle, or a pistol caliber carbine, as long as you are accutely comfortable with it) with superior personal defense ammunition loaded! Would not hurt to have one or two more handguns placed strategically around the house for that “just in case” incident.
*A weapon light with laser on your personal defense firearm.
*A tactical flashlight. Sorry Maglite, you just won’t get the job done! Chose a Surefire, Streamlight, Brite-Strike… they all have great reputations and are built to last! Make sure you go with LED. They last longer and burn bighter. Many of the Surefire lights are 320 lumins or higher. A quick blast or strobe from a 320 lumin tactical light is sometimes enough to blind and debilitate your invader enough to get the “draw” on him (or her). I have had Surefire for years and swear by them! For my home PDW I have two lights (two guns), a Glock tactical light and a Streamlight tactical light/laser. Both will blind you immediately for several seconds!
*Pepper Spay. Make certain if you have one of these it is police grade… this grade of spary will last between 30-45 minutes.
*Home Alarm system, and I highly recommend one with a celular module and not a land line connection. The bad guy can’t cut off a cell connection! Make sure you test your system with the monitoring service at least once every other month. Do you know your “panic word”? Will you remember it in a panic? Make sure you change your master access code regularly, every 90 days or less, you know, just like you do with your computer and banking access passwords! 😉 If someone is trying to break in hit the panic button immediately! This will automatcially alert 911, espeically if you do not pick up the monitoring service phone call. If you don’t already, have a secutiry system access panel installed in your bedroom.
*Tactical knife. If you are separated from your gun hopefully this is already in your pocket or within reach. Kershaw, Smith and Wesson, SOG, etc. make excellent open assited tactical knives.
*A dog! Believe it or not a dog is one of the best home invasion deterrents you could ever purchase! I have three and they are nosier than Mrs. Kravitz across the street! With their keen senses of hearing and night time sight they will absolutely let you know when something is wrong.
*Distress word… if your home is invaded and your wife, husband, child, etc. is taken hostage and you walk in, what is the word they will give you to let you know something is worng so that you have a chance to act?
*Safe word… if you come home at night and your spouse is a heavy sleeper, but you know you do not want to startle him/her, what word can you call out to make them aware that it is you and not an invader? If an invader has been through your trash he may know your name, so don’t use your own name as your safe word!
*Retreat positon (essentially a “panic room”). If you have the time to retreat while someone is breaking into your home, maybe because your PDW is not on you or close to you, where is that? I recommend the attic if at all possible. Most invaders do not have the time to consider checking out the attic. But, if that is not an option, chose a room or closet wisely. Make sure that retreat place his a firearm loaded and ready!
*Exit strategy. Yes, and exit strategy! If there is more than one attacker in your home and they have made multiple entries you may have to consider and exit strategy. Better to run so that you can live to fight another day than to die fighting off more attackers than you are trained or capable of handling by yourself!
*Security cameras. A great way to pre-empt an attack on your home! Especially cameras with night vision and two way voice communication capabilities. If you can see them before they can gain entry then you have gained the upper hand and are better prepared to defend your castle.
*ICE number in your cell phone. Have one or two ICE (In case of emergency) numbers programmed into the speed dial of your cell phone. Dial that number if you can while defending your home, ONLY after dialing 911!
*NRA’s Basics of Personal Protection In The Home Course. I highly recommend this course! It will cover many of the topics we have covered here in this blog plus give you scenarious to act through to hone your skills.
Take this to heart… plan your defense, practice your plan! Some family members may think it’s silly, but it could be just the family activity that keeps you all alive when only seconds count.
Practice Always! Safety First! Always in Control!
Research tools you may be interested in:
Home Defender Magazine by Gun World
Recoil Magazine (covers equipment, tools, vehicles, etc.)