Protecting against home invasion

There have been several stories in the news lately regarding home invasions. A home invasion occurs when whether intentionally or unintentionally a criminal enters your home while you are present; as opposed to a burglary where they do so when the house is empty.

Many times during accidental home invasions the criminal is not expecting to encounter anyone and will quickly flee when confronted. Intentional home invasions are much more dangerous as the criminal is expecting to confront someone (or is at least prepared for the possibility should they attempt a theft at night without waking the occupants) and will already have a plan for dealing with the residents. This may be as simple as threatening them with a weapon, restraining them, forcing them to assist with the robbery by leading the criminal to valuables or the confrontation could lead to rape or murder.

One such home invasion occurred in Elyria, Ohio in the morning of Thursday, January 5th. According to her account, she was in bed watching television when she heard a suspicious noise. She armed herself and was creeping down the stairs when a 31 year old drug addict kicked down her door and entered her home. She kept yelling for him to stop and when he succeeded in getting inside she fired three shots at him and he fled before later being arrested.

Since a neighbor reported hearing him yell “Oh My God!” as he ran away, it is likely he expected nobody to be home; or at the least not an armed response. The man was suspected to have broken in several weeks earlier when the woman’s daughter and granddaughter were home but they stayed upstairs and did not encouter the robber.

This is contrasted with another incident in Elyria on the same day. This time, the resident woke up to find a man with a gun in his bedroom. The robber forced the man to help him load up two garbage bags full of loot before escaping. Since this victim was taken by surprise while sleeping, being armed might not have led to a better outcome.

In both of these cases, there would have been warning if the resident had an alarm system. Even if you can’t afford a monitored service, an inexpensive stand-alone system can sound an audio alert to warn you of intrusion and possibly even cause the criminal to flee without a confrontation. At the very least it will give you more warning that awaking to find the intruder already in your bedroom giving you time to arm yourself and possibly lock your bedroom door or get to your children.

A common thing a criminal will try is to see if your doors or windows are unlocked to allow for easy entry. To prevent this, you should keep your doors and windows locked whenever practical, even if you are home.

Another frequent ploy is for the home invader to summon the victim to the door and press an attack when the door is opened. The best defense against this is to not open the door to someone you don’t know to keep a physical barrier between you. A door chain can be of use here if it is of high quality and properly installed so a simple push won’t break it. Likewise a good, solid door can help keep an intruder at bay.

Not only should you have a strong door at all entrances to your home, but having a good door and strong locks on your bedroom can allow you to use it as a safe room. Losing your possessions is much preferable to losing your life or becoming seriously injured.

Arming yourself before answering the door can also be an option, though a sudden rush by the invader can render you unable to bring your weapon into play. If there is more than one person home it might be better to arm the second person instead. If attacked, the first person can create separation either by running, shoving the attacker, or going to the ground allowing the second person to enact an armed response.

In addition to an alarm, there are several other things you can do to make your home a less attractive target. Keeping shrubbery trimmed back can prevent an attacker from hiding himself or an accomplice. A well-lit exterior, particularly with motion activated lights, can help make the criminal less comfortable. Owning a dog, particularly a large one, can be a strong deterrent.

One dangerous situation that can occur is surprising a burglar when you come home. Always be aware of your surroundings so you can take notice if things seem out of place or there are signs of forced entry. Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security when you enter your home, either. Glance around for things to be out of place and you also might catch a glimpse of the invader. If you do see someone as you enter, get out immediately. Even if armed you do not want the risk of confronting a possibly armed criminal. Discretion is definitely the better part of valor.

If you do manage to successfully enact an armed response you should attempt to verbally repel the intruder before firing if safe to do so. Most criminals will take an available escape route which is preferable to needing to win a gunfight or risk a round from your gun striking a neighbor or passerby. Attempting to apprehend the intruder can be dangerous as well, giving him opportunity to counter attack or forcing an accomplice to attempt a rescue.

These are just a few suggestions to help protect yourself against a home invasion. There is a lot of good information on the internet, and the NRA offers several good courses covering these topics including Refuse to Be a Victim and Personal Protection in the Home.

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