by Sheriff Jim Wilson - Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Traditionally, Americans have determined a man's home is his castle. It is often considered the place where a person is safest.
Unfortunately, with home invasions, this is not always the case. One merely has to read the news accounts of various home attacks across the country to know a person is not safe from criminal attack simply because he is in his own home. In fact, he may be in worse shape simply because of a false sense of security.
Home invasions are generally premeditated—the criminals have scouted the neighborhood looking for signs of affluence and lack of awareness. Good indicators are new cars in the driveway, expensive-looking clothes on the victims and large, fancy-looking homes. You must understand that criminals will be operating on their definition of affluence, not yours. They are not concerned with how much your job really pays, nor how much debt you incurred in order to have a nice home and late-model car. They are concerned with what looks, to them, like an easy mark that might result in lots of cash, jewelry or other quickly fenced valuable items. I'm not saying you ought to make an effort to look poor, just be aware you might be a target even though you don't think you qualify.
The first step in dealing with home invasions is being aware of what is going on around you. In numerous cases, criminals have often followed their intended victims on errands and shopping trips to get an idea of the victims' habits and routines. Be alert if you see a stranger who continues to observe you from afar or for the same car following you on different days and routes. Don't blow these situations off—contact law enforcement and report it. If you're being followed in your car, just drive to the closest police station.Once your home has been picked as the invasion target, the criminals will attempt to make a quick, dynamic entry, much like a police SWAT team would do. They will make every effort to get inside your house and overpower you and your family before anyone can get to a weapon or call 911. You can expect these invasions to be loud, quick and physically dangerous. Many home invasions result in the deaths of all present in order to avoid having any witnesses.
So, the next step is to get into the habit of locking your doors. Nowadays, most people are pretty good about locking up the house when they are going to be away. However, it is just as important to lock the door behind you when you come home.
In line with this, select exterior doors that are as heavy as possible to make it more difficult for someone to force his way into the house. And, while you're doing that, install good quality dead-bolt locks on the doors. You want to make exterior doors difficult to breach. Good exterior lighting, strategically placed, will also give a good view of your yard and what's going on out there. Loud alarms on doors and windows are also worth considering.
It is a good idea for the family to take time to walk around the outside of the house and look for ways it can be broken into. Examine windows and exterior doors for weaknesses. Look for places where exterior lighting can give a better view of the surrounding yards. And look at shrubs, trees and bushes, locating places where an accomplice could hide while an attack is staged. Give it some serious thought and study and then begin to make the necessary changes to make your home a less appealing target.
Simply put, you can't harden the entryways to your house so that it's not possible to break in, but you can make a break-in more difficult. By so doing, you cause the attacker to spend more time and make more noise trying to get inside. This buys you time to become aware that your home is being attacked, take a defensive position and put your defensive plan into effect.
For all of this, it is wise to keep defensive weapons close at hand. The time taken to unlock a gun safe, select and load a weapon, is time wasted. It is time that should be spent rallying your family to a safe corner of the house and alerting the police. The best solution to dealing with a home invasion is to have a familiar firearm close at hand, at all times. Loaded weapons should be secreted in every room of the house so that, no matter what room you are in when the attack occurs, you are immediately armed and ready.For these reasons, it is important for every adult member and mature child in the family to know the location of the firearms and how to use them. In too many cases, it is assumed the man of the house will do any shooting that becomes necessary. Unfortunately, in the real world, he may be the first one put out of commission. What will the rest of the family do if that occurs?
All members of the family owe it to each other to be familiar with defensive firearms and know how to use them. Gun safety should be taught and discussed with every member of the family, including appropriate instruction for children who may be too small to take a hand in home defense. People who say their children are too young to learn gun safety are really just giving you an insight into their parenting skills, or lack of the same. Children too small to handle a firearm may be designated to call 911. A family's safety is the responsibility of each and every member.
Just a few years ago, a very public case showed what can happen when people are not prepared to deal with a home invasion. The police investigation showed the criminals had been following the women of the family for several days. They had also driven by the house on numerous occasions and had developed a plan of attack. When they made their move, it was quick and violent. Within the first few seconds, the man of the house was hit with a blunt object and rendered unconscious. The attackers then took their time in raping and murdering the women.
This sort of crime shouldn't happen to any honest citizen. We often joke, "when seconds count, the police are only minutes away." Well, a lot can happen in those few minutes that it takes law enforcement to respond. The smart citizen will find ways to make a criminal's forced entry into his home more difficult. He or she will develop a family plan that involves personal defense and police notification. And the family will have the means—and training—at hand to put up a fight.
At the end of the day, there's no other way to say it except that we are each responsible for our own safety. Take the proper steps and avoid a tragedy.
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