Home Defense: A Comparative Discussion
Our home is our castle, and we all feel safe at home. So if this sacred place is intruded upon, it does more than break and enter. It shatters the perception of safety within our castle, and leaves uncertainty in its place. All of us have, at times found ourselves considering how we might confront an intruder. How might we address the bump in the night, if at all?
In this article we will discuss some different home protection strategies and compare the pros/cons of each.
My first suggestion to any homeowner who finds themselves startled awake by the sound of an intruder in the home would be to call 911. The first-responders who arrive to address your emergency are professionals trained to deal with criminals, and they have the best odds for a favorable resolution to your situation. And realistically speaking, we want the creep arrested so they can pay for their crime.
However this safest of strategies still leaves you in a precarious position. Calling 911 doesn’t unlock the front door for the police. So you may have to consider leaving the safety of your bedroom to let the cops in, thus potentially crossing paths with the intruder. Also, calling 911 does nothing to stop the creep from coming into your room and doing God knows what. The former can be addressed by having a hidden key outside your home. You can relay the keys position to the 911 operator, thus granting access to the police who arrive. The latter however, may require more consideration.
So we start with securing the bedroom. Installing a regular door handle with a lock on the inside should provide enough protection to stop any burglar from entering the room. When you are awakened; simply grab the phone, call 911, close the door and lock the handle. If the perp has more sinister intentions, he will have to kick the door in. This will give you time to shout, “I have a gun and I am on the phone with the police!!” Hopefully this will deter the perp from advancing and they will leave to avoid both gunfire and the police.
Odds are that this will be the end of your ordeal. However if the perp DOES continue to advance you will be happy you have some options. But before we talk about specific weapons and tactics, I want to discuss some underlying principles behind reacting to these situations.
Training: Whatever method you decide to go with, practice it often. In the moments during an actual break-in you will likely be startled awake and groggy. You will be in a low light environment and you will have an adrenaline surge. All of these will affect your ability to think through a response. All research I have done on this suggests that you will instinctively resort to your training, so having actually practiced will be crucial to your ability to respond to an intruder. You don’t want the first time you employ your defensive ideas to be while you are half awake in the dark while under an adrenalin load. Watch this video
Deterrence: We have all heard the adage: “Best block, no be there…” And I believe this is by far the best approach to any criminal situation. If there are ways to make a potential burglar decide NOT to choose your home for invasion, this is the best option. When talking about deterrence, the terms “Soft Target and “Hard Target” are often used. These terms refer to the difficulty and the incentive your property offers potential criminals.
A home with dark places to hide outside, valuables visible through windows from the street and no security system is a soft target as it offers easier opportunity for obvious rewards with little chance of failure or capture.
A home with active motion lighting, an alarm sign in the yard, a dog and no valuables visible through windows offers significantly less incentive and greater chances of failure or capture and is therefore a harder target.
Outcome: This aspect involves the effects and ramifications, on you and those both directly/indirectly involved, both immediately and on the near future.
The best defensive strategy would be easy to practice, provide optimal deterrence and have the most favorable outcome for all involved. With this in mind I recommend the plan below for your home protection. To look further into exactly WHY I think this is the best plan, I go into exquisite detail following the plan I recommend. So look it all over, think it through and come to your own conclusions. In the end it is your home and you should make the decision on how to protect it.
As for me and my family, here it is:
A combination of deterrence through evaluation of your own home, enacting measures to "harden" vulnerable areas and a plan to protect in place using a 12 gauge pump shotgun loaded with number 8 bird shot rounds for defense.
This combination plan offers:
General deterrence to help avoid the crime altogether and a better understanding of your homes weaknesses.
A reaction plan that protects your family from an intruder, protects your neighbors from your potential gunfire, lets the police deal with the intruder and allows you to defend yourself with force if needed.
Offers the best possible outcomes:
Crime didn’t happen
Intruder left when he heard you yell and chamber a shotgun round
Police arrested the intruder
Intruder attacked your family in your safe room, they were shot and stopped, but they lived to be prosecuted
Crazed intruder attacked your family in the safe room, was shot several times, was killed in self-defense and your actions were justified in the eyes of the law
Here is the plan in detail:
Evaluate for vulnerabilities and deal with the soft spots. Take walk after dark and observe your home from the street. Go “case” your house and your neighbor’s houses looking for visible things of value and protection.
Can you see the nice flat screen in the living room? Put up blinds or curtains and close them at night.
Is there adequate security lighting or is the yard and driveway dark. How about a Dog, or a security system sign? Got on Amazon and fix these soft spots.
Are their valuable tools visible in the open garage? Close the garage door every time.
Seeing things form the burglar’s point of view will show you a lot about what kind of target your home is. From this assessment you can begin to address the “Soft” areas of your home and make your home a “Hardened” target, thus passively avoiding the crime altogether. This is by far the best outcome. Here are some links to items that will go a long way to making a thief choose another target:
Alarms systems: It should be noted that alarm systems are a great addition to any home protection plan. However the use of an audible siren is questionable. Instead, I recommend the alarm company call your home to confirm your safety, use a code word in case you need help but can’t say so, and are able to call police for you if needed.
Create a “Protect in place” plan: Gathering you and your loved ones in a “Safe Room” in the home, calling the police, defending yourself if needed and waiting for help to arrive.
Plan ahead using a whistle, alarm or word to initiate the plan.
Practice in daytime, at night in the dark and event use surprise drills at night to be sure your loved ones react in a safe manner if the time ever comes.
Older kids should help gather younger kids and everyone should gather in the designated safe room.
This safe room should have a phone and charger (even old cellphones with no plan can still call 911), a flashlight/extra batteries, a first aid kit, candy for little children (to calm them and keep them quiet), written address of your home and specific direction through the house to your safe room so the police know where you are.
Hide a front door key in something like this so the police can let themselves in. Keep a note about what and where it is hidden key is so you can tell the 911 dispatcher:
The bedroom door should also lock.
Once everyone in safe in place, remain quiet and listen. This lets you know what is happening in another part of the house and you will hear the police arrive. Meanwhile, let the dog go and let him/her bark. This may scare off the intruder and you will know if the intruder moves toward your location.
When the police arrive they will loudly announce their presence and clear the house as a team. As they approach your location, grab the dog if you can and loudly tell them you are the homeowner and you are all hiding in the safe room.
If you are armed tell them so, tell the 911 dispatcher and follow their directions. (more on this later)
“Protect in place” used as your only plan does little to deter a criminal from breaking in, however it does a lot to protect your loved ones and yourself. It allows professional law enforcement to clear the house and has the second best outcome in that any creep in the house is dealt with by law enforcement, will likely be arrested, your family is minimally affected emotionally and your neighbors remained uninvolved. The only better outcome is for the crime not to happen. Here is a great article that goes into more detail about a "Protect in Place" plan.
Go buy a decent shotgun and number 8 birdshot rounds. Take it to the range and shoot it