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Harden Your Home

Harden Your Home

"It was about midnight when 66-year-old Rosa Myles' nightly prayers were interrupted. She heard a noise coming from the back of her home. Myles, who must use a walker to get around, went to investigate when a man suddenly lunged at her with a knife..."

"John Mutter was asleep in his bed around 2:15 a.m. when he was awakened by a man with a shotgun pointed at his head. Mutter, a paraplegic living alone, kept his own gun nearby for protection. He quickly grabbed his gun and fired multiple times, killing the intruder...."

We ought to feel the safest in our own homes, but that is often a false sense of security. Crooks count on this and, as in the above incidents, are often inside our homes before we are even aware of it. When they are able to enter undetected, it is generally our own fault. Call it laziness. Call it ignoring the obvious. But it is the sort of crime committed almost every day, somewhere in this country.

Unfortunately, you can't crime-proof your home until it is impossible to break into, simply because if you can get in, so can the crooks. But, you can harden the target, making it more difficult for them. Force the crooks to make a lot of noise and take a lot of time. In this case, noise and time are your friends.

In the first place, a homeowner should conduct a security inspection. Make sure all of the windows and doors have locks. Then, it is important to make sure the locks actually work. A quick trip to your local hardware store will provide replacements for old, worn-out ones. But, of course, locks only work if they are actually engaged. So, it becomes important to check and verify all are set before going to bed.

Another good idea is to install outside lights that, when activated, will light up the entire outside perimeter of the residence. Additionally, it's an even better idea to have your electrician install a master switch for these lights in the bedroom. You might even consider including certain interior lights in this setup. Crooks who suddenly find themselves bathed in light generally want to leave, and this is a good thing.

If the family budget will stand it, a loud burglar alarm system is also very effective. I prefer an audible alarm because, again, the loud noise will often encourage criminals to drop what they are doing and flee. Of course, setting the alarm becomes another part of the daily security drill. It just won't work very well if it's not turned on.

Pet lovers will appreciate the fact a dog can provide early warning of an intruder. Small- to medium-size dogs are best for this because they are more likely to bark when alarmed. Of course, a large one can be an intimidating presence. Regardless, a dog can provide an early alert that someone is trying to break in and its barking may serve to discourage the intruder before an encounter even takes place—cats and goldfish, not so much.

Another good security technique is to have a friend come to the house and do a "walk around." Got a policeman living in your neighborhood? Bribe him with coffee and donuts and ask him to perform a security evaluation. Strangers can often see security weaknesses we overlook just because we see them every day. With a neighbor helping you, you can actually trade out by evaluating the security of his home in return. Between the two of you, it will be surprising what ideas you can come up with.

Right along with home security is a tip I got from Clint Smith, founder of Thunder Ranch. Smith suggests a small pouch with an attached strap that allows the rig to be quickly slipped over your head and hang across your chest. It should be big enough to hold a reload of ammunition, a tactical flashlight and a cell phone, and be kept in the same place your defensive handgun is located. When you must investigate a possible intruder, the pouch goes over your head and leaves your hands free to manage the handgun, flashlight, open doors or grab loved ones as you retreat to the safe room. Yet, your defensive accessories go with you and are close at hand.

The whole idea of securing your home is to harden the target. You want to create a situation where the crook must make noise in order to get in, and it must take time for him to do it. The more noise and time required, the better the chances you will be alerted and still have time to call the police, all while taking up a defensive position.

To wake up with someone standing over you, or to suddenly confront someone who has quietly entered your home, means you have lost a major part of the battle. As a result, the playing field is no longer level, because you now have to overcome the criminal's decided advantage. But, it is an advantage he doesn't necessarily need and shouldn't have. Regain the advantage by taking the time to harden the target that is your home—your family will be glad you did.

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