Home invasion is among my most dreaded worries. A criminal gang making a crash entry into your home is a real worry to me. And this threat is increasing across the United States. As the economy worsens, long-term unemployed become more desperate, and the entire crime rate continues to increase, we can expected to see more and more home invasion.
As I was reading the news in the morning, as I often do, came across this unfortunate news:
This famous ex-baseball star was murdered in his home during a home invasion. The motivation was robbery, as an ex-baseball star was expected to have a lot of cash and jewelry at his home. Before you think this is just a crime problem in the Dominican Republic or a black community problem, look at today’s news from accross the United States:
- Chillicothe Home Invasion Suspects Arrested Following Chase
- Police seek suspects in Sylvan Beach home invasion
- Police Arrest Troy Man in Connection With Four Birmingham Home Invasions
- Deputies investigate Spartanburg Co. home invasion
- Man shot during home invasion
- Home invasion conviction stands
- Life, no parole in home invasion
- Victim, suspects all jailed in Clayton home invasion
- Athens home invasion suspects told elderly victim they wanted to build cell tower
- Homeowner shot during home invasion
- $250K bond set for suspect in home invasion
- Resident shot during home invasion
The stories above are from only the past 24 hours.
Here are two older stories about home invasion, which bring chills to my spine:
Home Invasion is a real risk in USA. What is so worrisome about Home Invasion, it is often so random. Your home can be in a good neighborhood or bad neighborhood. You can be rich or poor. You can be in the city, the suburbs, or in a rural area. Home Invasion are particularly foul crimes, because robbery is likely not the only outcome. Home Invasions are often accompanied with assault, rape, kidnapping, and murder.
Statistically, you are at low risk for a Home Invasion. But the outcome is so bad for your family, a prudent man should prepare for this situation.
Here are some suggestions on how to prepare for a home invasion:
- Have a dog with a mean sounding bark. Dogs can often sense an intruder before approaching your home. The barking will alert both the intruders and your family. Many intruders will bypass a home with a barking dog. The dog must have a mean, tough sounding bark. A little yip, yip, yip barking toy dog will not do the job.
- Keep your doors locked, always. Never leave your doors unlock, anytime. Even when working in the yard, take a key and lock up your home. Many burglars simply walk right into home through unlocked doors.
- If you come to find your home has been broken into, do not enter the home. Call police and wait farther away until the police have cleared the home. Now is not the time to be overly brave. Unless you and your wife are both trained police, let the professionals do their job.
- Have an alarm system. And use it! Many people who have an alarm system do not turn it on. Create a habit if your family is not planning to leave soon, have the alarm always on. Many burglaries occur during the day in plain sight, when burglars pose as utility workers or lawn care workers. Do not solely count on an alarm system. Call the police if you ever feel in fear.
- Improve your home’s defenses. The door is the starting point. Most residential doors can be simply kicked into. Sliding glass doors are the favorite of burglars. Intruders can be in your home in 10 seconds. An all steel door with metal frame is the way to go. Steel doors can be painted and covered to simulate wood or the existing exterior. Steel doors need to be anchored deeply into the frame. Typical screws for a common residential door are 3 or 4 inches. Go for 7 or 8 inch screws, which anchor past the door frame into the home’s structural supports. You will likely need masonry drills to accomplish this. Just with doors, keep your windows lock, always. Below the ground floor windows, have thick, thorny shrubbery to defer an intruder.
- You need a response plan, if your home is ever invaded. The response to a home invasion should be opposite to a fire drill. In an invasion, your family needs to go to a room that is distant and defensible from your entry doors. Teach your children how to responded if a bad person ever comes in your home, where to go. If you can afford a safe room, consider yourself fortunately. Every home in tornado alley should have a fortified room to shelter. Such a room could also be the safe room.
- You must be able to defend yourself. The amount of time needed to force entry into the typical home is 30 seconds or less. Kick in the door, break a window, these are practiced activities for an intruder. Making a 911 police call takes about 60 to 90 seconds. Connect time for the call alone might be 30 seconds. The average response time in a suburban or city area is 7 to 10 minutes. In rural areas, the response time is much longer. So you are on your own for at least 6 to 9 minutes. Those 6 to 9 minutes will change your life in only bad ways.
- You need a firearm to defend yourself. Pepper spray, mace, and baseball bat are not going to do the job. More often than not, the intruder is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Meth addicts are common to commit home intrusions. Non-lethal defense methods might not even slow down an addict high on crank or crack. The only reasonable way to defend your family is a firearm. Every adult in your home should have their own pistol or revolver, and located near where you sleep at night. Most home invasions occur during sleeping hours, thus your firearm needs to be within arms reach of your bed. The best weapon for a home invasion is a shotgun. 12 gauge in tactical configuration is best. 20 gauge for those who can not handle the power of a 12 gauge. Next best option is a semi-automatic pistol. Some will argue that a carbine, such as AR-15 or AK-47 are good options for home defense, but these options should be considered by only highly experienced persons. Have reloads for your shotgun or extra magazines for your pistol or rifle. Sometimes just one warning shot will chase way intruders. A determined team will converge on your shots and attack you together. Be prepared to shoot through an interior door, if you have gathered all your family members into one room with you and a bad person is attempting access to your current room location. Regardless of what option you pick, put a light on your weapons, since you will likely need to respond to a home invasion during the dark hours. The light should be a very bright LED with potentially blinding effects on the intruder. You need to have your hands focused on handling your weapon. You need to be concerned about over penetration, depending on number of family members in your home, proximity of neighbor’s homes, and composition of your home’s construction materials. Most bullets will slice right through dry wall like butter. If you must shoot, you need to know what lies beyond your line of sight. Shooting towards your child’s room is a bad thing.
- Body armor is a force multiplier and allows you to stay in the fight longer. If you have body armor, put it on after you grab your weapon, if you have time.
- Go on defense. Even if you have a firearm, your goal is not to go on offense. Typically the best thing to do during a home invasion is gather your family together, call police, prepare to defend yourself, and wait for police to clear the house. Very few people have the skills to clear a home. And clearing a home is best done by a team, since home invasions are often team-based. You against three invaders is bad odds.
- Gather your family first, then call police. You have only a few seconds to grab your children and go on defense. If an intruder grabs your child first, the ending can only be bad. Once you are in a good safe spot (relatively), then call police. Expect that a home intruder will cut your phone lines. For this reason, I always advocate that you keep your mobile / cell phone charged and on the night stand. Locate your mobile phone charger on your night stand, so that is charging while you sleep. When you are notified of an intrusion, grab your phone and weapons, and then sprint towards your other family members. Call 911 even if you cannot talk out loud. Simply tell the 911 operator “Home invasion at address ……. I have a weapons. Intruders are in the house. Send police immediately. I am in danger for my life. ” Leave the phone on, even if you have to escape or shoot. Do not turn off the phone.
- Do not leave your home until police have cleared your home. If is not unheard of a drugged intruder falling asleep in a nook of your home or having team members on watch outside. Wait for police to give you instructions. Make sure the 911 operator has told you that police are on the scene, before you take any instructions from police on the scene.
- Immediately after police have cleared your home, you will need to provide a police report. Try to recall details. What did the vehicle look like? How many voices did you hear? Look for what may have been stolen. You might want to right down notes. During times of stress, adrenaline takes control over your emotion and thoughts. Adrenaline is useful to focus your energy and effort towards survival. Unfortunately, adrenaline causes a person’s memory to dissolve quickly. Perhaps that is a natural evolution of the human brain. A caveman who survived a saber-tool tiger attack is likely want to escape the memory as well. Expect that you will feel mental fuzzy, after your adrenaline lets down. So writing down your memories quickly will aid your efforts in days to come.
- If you are in any fear of your life or the lives of your family, do not be afraid to shoot. But before you shoot, know the location of every family member. In the confusion, you could easily shoot a family member. The basic safety rules of any firearm are:
- Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
- Know what is beyond your target before you shoot.
- Properly identify the target before you shoot.
- Only shoot when the lives of you or another person are endangered. Do not shoot just for property theft. Shoot because you are in fear of being injuried or killed.
- Know the laws of your specific state and county. Every state has slightly different laws that describe the proper justification for shooting an intruder. Shooting an intruder in the back, while they are attempting to flee your home will likely result in legal problems for you, if not jail time.
- If there is not immediate threat to harm, it is better to let the police handle the situation. If you are ever in fear, call the police immediately before things get out of control.
- Make sure that you are legally allowed to own a firearm in your locality.
- Store all firearms such that children cannot obtain access.
- Take a gun safety classes or obtain your concealed carry permit/license.
- If any of your family members had to shoot their weapons, contact your attorney immediately that evening. If anyone was shot, either your family member or intruder, simply tell the police the brief facts and state you were “in fear of your life”, then let your attorney talk to the police for you. Even if you were in the right, even if you shot an intruder for self-defense, there will likely be legal action. If someone died, there may be a grand jury or coroner’s inquest, where you need legal counsel. It is not unheard for an intruder to sue the home owner.
- That night, call your neighbors to see if they are okay. Home Intruders often will raid several homes in the same neighborhood in the same night. In Latin America countries, the modus operandi is invade and kidnap one family, then use that home to raid the other homes in the neighborhood.
- The next day during first light, take lots of pictures of the damage or where encounters occurred. You need pictures for legal and insurance purposes.
- The next day, call your insurance agent to notify of the event. Some home insurance policies have a time limit for reporting a claim. And your insurance agent can help guide you through what needs to be done. Likely some home repairs will be needed — get the repairs down quickly, before some other bad person takes advantages of your vulnerable situations. And heavily supervise the repair people for quality and security reasons.
- If a news reporter wants to interview you or your family, refer them to your attorney. Do not talk to news reporters. The quotes can be used in a legal situation.
- If a family member was injured or killed, immediately gather your friends, family members, neighbors, church/temple members and community resources to help you. Notify your employer quickly, so that you can take time off to attend to family priorities.
- Afterwards, say a prayer of gratitude that your family survived. And be thankful you were prepared. Those that do not prepare become a victim and statistic.
Not directly related, these are some other preparation activities. These are general good ideas to do regardless, but will also contribute to a better outcome for a home invasion event.
- Keep your insurance up to date. Have enough life insurance to put your children through college and take your spouse to retirement. Your homeowners insurance should be sufficient to replace your entire home and all its contents, at current replacement costs. Make sure your home insurance provides some blanket coverage for personal liability. If your personal net worth is higher than average, consider obtaining a specific blanket, umbrella liability insurance policy.
- Conduct fire drills with your family. Make sure everyone knows where to go during a fire. Keep your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors updated with fresh batteries, changed at least twice each year. If your detectors are older than 5 years, replace with newer models. Detectors will deteriorate over time.
- Every adult should receive firearms training. People only react to a stressful situation as well as they are trained. Having a firearm is worthless without proper skills.
- Teach your children about firearms safety. You cannot gun safe a home, but you can gun safe your children. 75 years ago, most homes had a firearm and children grew up just fine, because their parents taught their children about the responsibilities of firearms. 75 years ago, boys age 6 or 8 learned how to shoot a .22 LR rifle. As your children visit other homes, they should know how to identify and stay away from firearms.
- Even if your spouse wants nothing to do with firearms, insist that your spouse take a self-defense shooting and safety class. Even better, every adult should obtain their concealed carry firearms license. At minimum, your wife should have a .38 Special revolver to defend herself, while you are away from home or at work. I have read plenty of new stores about the lady of the house defending her children with a .38 Special revolver or small caliber rifle. The man of the house cannot always be home. Every adult, even grandma should be ready to defend themselves. See the stories below.
- Have a relationship with an attorney ahead of time. You don’t want to be searching through the yellow pages or internet searches at 3:00 AM looking for a lawyer after a shooting event.
- Your alarm system should have a battery back-up. Crime is more likely during a power outage. Or home invaders might cut your phone lines and power lines.
- Make sure your firearms are clean and ready. Test the lights on your firearms once each month. Have a backup LED flash light at your bedside.
- Hide your valuables where burglars will have difficulty finding. False walls, floor safes, book safes, kitchen pantry jars, and other in-plain sites devices will help. Keep your very expensive items in a large, secure bank safebox.
- Have extra insurance for your valuables. Most homeowners insurance does not cover cash, jewelry, collectibles, bullion coins, firearms and art. Anything worth more $1,000 should be listed as a specific line item added to your homeowners insurance.
- Store recent pictures of your home, interior, furniture, and home goods. Men’s tools, watches, and suits are expensive, take pictures of those. There should be recent pictures of the ladies jewelry and collectibles. Store the pictures in a bank safebox, in the event of a home fire. This will help with the insurance claims.
- Keep aware of the crime situation in your town and neighborhood. Home Invasions and burglaries come in waves, often by the same team of bad people. Drug addicts need to keep feeding their addiction, and will not stop until put in jail or dead.
- Incorporate your safety practices into everyday habits. Keep your doors locked, even when you are home. Keep the garage door closed, even when you are out in the garden or cutting the grass. Make it a practice of turning on the alarm systems, as soon as your are settled into your home, quickly.
- Store your firearms and ammunition in a safe mechanism. Know the safe ways to store firearms, so that your children do not have access.
- Once your children reach the right age, teach them how to shoot. Only you know the right age of when your child is mature enough. Some weapons instructors and fire ranges have classes for teens, accompanied by an adult. Your older teen should know how to retrieve your firearms to defend against an intruder. Teach your children, do not hide the world from them. If your 16-year-old is responsible enough to drive a car, they are responsible enough to learn about firearms. My friend has taught their teen children properly how to shoot and defend themselves. His rule to his children is, “If the firearms has been moved for any reason, there better be a strange body on the floor and the police better have been called.”
- If you are so inclined, take self-defense classes or martial arts classes. Martial arts are especially valuable for children, who are more likely needed to respond to bullying or assault from another child. Ladies need to know how to respond to a rape attempt.
I pray and hope your family is never impacted by crime, especially a home invasion. A home invasion is like a criminal lightning strike. The probability is low, but the outcome is devastating. You leave the park, ball field, and golf course during a thunderstorm. For a home invasion lightning strike, you need to prepare yourself, your family, and your home. If a home intruder comes to my home, 00 buckshot from a 12 gauge and 9mm +P hollow-points is my response within 15 seconds.
May you all be safe and live long, prosperous lives.