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Avoiding & Surviving a Home Invasion

Picture this: You’ve just come home from work. You are helping your wife puts the final touches on dinner while the kids play in the living room. After a long day, you’re finally starting to relax, and you’re looking forward to sitting down for a meal with your family. Suddenly, from outside, you hear the sounds of car doors slamming and feet shuffling up your driveway. As you stand to look out the window you’re startled by a resonant BOOM! as the door is kicked and. Someone you don’t know has broken into your home.  Panicked, Your wife frantically calls 911, but she’s calmly told, “All operators are busy. Please stand by.” Dangerous people are in your home and you don’t know what to do . . .

Each year, hundreds of Americans are kidnapped, injured, or killed during home invasions. Many people live in a fantasyland, believing that the police will magically appear in their time of need. After all, police have to protect us, right? WRONG! Did you know that the US Court of Appeals has ruled that police have no legal responsibility to provide personal protection to individuals? In other words, police and cities have been absolved of any liability. The ruling stated, “Local government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen” (Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1). That’s right!, The police are under no obligation to risk their lives to save yours.  If you think that calling 911 will instantly remove all evildoers, think again. If you’re not prepared to protect yourself and your loved ones then there is no guarantee that you will receive any protection at all. 

Most home invasions can be delayed long enough to allow police to arrive before entry is made. But who really plans for this type of event? Most homeowners keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of fire which helps you keep a fire under control long enough for the fire department to arrive. But do you have anything to delay the convicted felon who’s kicking down your door? Or better yet, in this event, what could you have done to prevent him from targeting your house in the first place? Do you have a plan and the tools necessary to defuse the situation, or are you counting on the automated 911 answering service? If you want more security and assurance than 911 can provide, here are a number of simple steps you can take to reduce your chances of being targeted by home invaders.

The first thing is to find them before they find you! Many break-ins are planned events and not something that a criminal does impulsively.  Criminals often plan and coordinate criminal activity for when you are not home, or worse, for when you are. Of course, it’s easiest for criminals to break into your house while you’re away. In fact, according to the FBI, this type of burglary takes place in the U.S. every 14.6 seconds. But other types of home invasions occur because the perpetrators want you in your residence. And how do they know when you’re home? THEY’RE WATCHING YOU! Maybe they’re observing from a static location, like a car parked down the street, or maybe they trail you when you’re driving. With proper training and situational awareness, you can pick up on this amateur surveillance very quickly.

Static surveillance is typically conducted from inside a vehicle. It allows the perpetrators to leave the area quickly and it gives them some creature comforts. You know your neighborhood better than anyone, so spotting an out-of-place car in view of your home should be cause for concern. If you see an unfamiliar car, just drive by without pulling into your driveway. Are there people in the car? Cigarette butts piled outside the windows? As you approach, do they duck or look the other way?

If you see any of these signs, call the police. Provide a description of the vehicle, occupants, and, if you can get it, the license plate number. Be polite and patient when talking with police dispatchers, and be as descriptive as possible about the suspicious nature of the vehicle occupants. Do not approach the vehicle. Don’t head home before the police arrive. The officer will likely check the license plate of the vehicle and determine if there are any outstanding warrants or ownership concerns.

Later, after the police handle the situation, speak to your neighbors. Alerting them to what happened is helpful as they can keep their eyes open for any other suspicious activity.

Mobile surveillance is slightly more difficult to detect than static surveillance. If you’re driving and someone is following you, there are steps you should take to avoid danger.  The goal in identifying mobile surveillance is to correlate the suspected vehicle’s movements to your own. As you’re driving, keep track of the vehicles directly around you. If you take a turn, check to see if another vehicle has made the same turn or perhaps turned onto the next parallel street. Then, check again on the next two turns. Is the same car still behind you? If so, chances are you’re being tailed.

If you’re suspicious, use your cell phone speaker setting to call the police. Don’t alert your “tail” by picking up your phone. If you do, they’ll most likely break contact and drive away. But if they have no reason to believe you’re suspicious of them, they’ll continue following you, giving police time to respond.

While driving, begin looking for “hard points” along your way. These are locations where emergency personnel may be located. Fire stations, hospitals, and schools are the most common. Keep in mind that school resource officers are stationed at most high schools and middle schools.

Learning situational awareness and mental conditioning is among the first steps in securing yourself and your family. Next, you’ll want to make yourself a “hard target” to potential assailants. By applying a few simple, fundamental skills and common sense tactics to your residence and surroundings, you’ll deter criminals from choosing you as their next victim.

Here are few tips to help keep criminals from viewing your family or residence as a target.

1. Ensure that your door locks are firmly fastened into the door and doorjamb. Most locks come with short, easy-to-install screws that aren’t meant to keep the strike plate in place if a forced entry is attempted. Replace these factory screws with longer (3-1/2”) steel screws. These will bite into the door and doorjamb much more efficiently and will withstand a lot more force. If your entry doors have glass on or around them, be sure to cover the glass with a quality security film. Doing so will make it difficult for someone to smash through the glass, reach inside, and unlock the door. Applying these simple hardware fixes will buy you some added time—and when someone is trying to do you harm, every second counts.

2. Use delayed and random power timers. By plugging televisions, stereos, and lights into timers that turn on and off throughout the day, you’ll create the illusion that someone’s home. Make sure the televisions and radios are on functioning stations and that the light bulbs are operational. Change the on and off timing weekly to confuse anyone performing static surveillance.

3. Find a trusted house-sitter. When traveling for extended periods, have a trusted individual make your home look occupied. If they’re unable to stay at the residence full time, have them come by and move cars around, change the position of blinds, pick up newspapers, etc.

4. Post alarm signage around your house. A home security system can be a good investment—if you use it. A study in Connecticut showed that in 41% of alarmed homes that were burglarized had security systems that were not turned on. Even if you don’t own a security alarm system, you can still purchase brand-name alarm company signs and stickers from online auction services. Apply stickers to the front and rear windows and doors of your residence, and put signs in your yard.  This will act as a deterrent for criminals who do not want the added risk of being caught that an alarm system presents.

5. Give the impression that a large dog lives there. Purchasing and deploying a well-trained watchdog is a great crime deterrent. But this may not be the most practical solution for some families. In any case, post conspicuous “Beware of Dog” and electric fence signs, and put out a large stainless water bowl and a horse femur. This will create the impression that you have a 200lb Mastiff inside.

Hopefully, the information provided here has given some insight into the tactical mindset needed to prevent a home invasion and motivated you to take steps to survive a home invasion. If you don’t currently have a plan for engaging these threats, it’s strongly suggested that you seek proper professional training. In the event that a criminal decides to inflict harm on you or your loved ones, there are critical steps you must take to ensure you and your family survive. High Caliber Training’s courses can give you the tools needed to increase your chances of survival. With the correct training, defensive tools, and preparation, you and your family will never have to worry about becoming another crime statistic.

 

 

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Discussion

  1. Daliah  October 23, 2012

    Scary. I have security cameras and a gun. Still scared…I have a glass sliding door that leads to my sunroom…

    (reply)
    • James C. Foy  February 27, 2013

      Daliah,
      The security film on your sliding door will help. Also, a broomstick cut to fit the channel at the bottom of your slider will make it more secure.
      Sunrooms are often made of lightweight materials. Simple alarms, could be a coffee can of marbles placed at the door before you go to bed or when you’re not using the room.
      Mainly you want to buy time for help to arrive if you can’t scare off or disable/eliminate your attackers; time to call 911, arm yourself, or call a neighbor you trust, or your alarm/security company.
      If you’re particularly paranoid or have the time, you could use ball bearings and caltrops of metal and pick them up with a magnet after they’ve been knocked over or spread out.
      My brother has property in the DFW area and bars on the doors and window seem to be the best way to slow things down. Depending on your architecture, there are many ways to secure porches and sunrooms.

      (reply)
  2. Daliah  October 23, 2012

    Oh, and I was just online trying to buy stickers that say I own a gun. I don’t want to scare strangers but these home invasions are happening quite frequently here in DFW, TX.

    (reply)
  3. home security alarm system companies  June 7, 2013

    Can I simply say what a comfort to find someone
    that genuinely knows what they’re discussing online. You actually know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people need to read this and understand this side of your story. It’s surprising you’re not more popular since you surely have the gift.

    (reply)
  4. Kevin  November 6, 2013

    I would caution against using Step #4 as a method of avoiding a home invasion. Having spent some time in the law enforcement community, as well as working undercover in the criminal underworld, I must forewarn folks that using signage that indicates an alarm is on site INVITES criminals to give your house further consideration. Criminals know that people without anything to lose will NOT have alarms. House with alarms are attractive to criminals because they indicate there is something of value in the home worth protecting. Buy an alarm system, install it and through away the signs. Do NOT advertise that you think your stuff is more valuable than your neighbors!!!

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  5. HD  March 20, 2014

    One classic mistake is putting your trash can onto the curb, with a bunch of pricey electronics boxes sticking out of it or beside it. No need to advertise your new 60 inch TV, iPads, laptops etc, especially if it’s out there for more than a day.

    I liked the idea of a dog initially, but the constant barking is tiresome and eventually we just tuned it out, and finally the whole idea seemed redundant.

    (reply)

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