'Last night, someone tried to break in through a window I had left open for some fresh air.'
'In the middle of the day they burglarized my entire house, and stole all of the electronics, jewelry, and guns they could get their hands on.'
'I woke up when I heard a crash, like something had fallen off of the counter downstairs. Then the dog started barking like crazy.'
'I knew the moment I came home and saw the broken glass that they had come for my guns, and when I saw that my safe was gone, my stomach churned.'
Each one of the above statements comes from an Independence Training student within the last 3 months. For some, their experience was the catalyst that encouraged them to begin training; for others, it was a wake-up call to spend more effort on hardening their target. For those of us who have not had this terrible thing happen to us, it is an opportunity to learn from what has happened to others so that we can try to prevent it from happening to us.
First things first - try to think like a criminal. I know this may be hard for some of you, but give it a shot. Take a walk around your own home and try to figure out what would make you want to break in. Drive by your house and try to spot things that may be tell-tale signs of an easy target or that there may be nice things inside worthy of a pawn shop or a street deal. Now observe the other homes in your neighborhood - which homes in your area make the juiciest targets? Look at the house in the picture above: sure, it's a nice house and there are probably nice things inside, but look at how well it is lit up and how low the bushes are trimmed, leaving no hiding spots or concealment areas. Here's a few things to look for at your house:
- Are there kids' toys spread all over the yard? I wonder what kind of electronics they have?
- Are there newspapers stacked up on the driveway or left in the ditch, boxes from a delivery service left overnight on the porch, service flyers tucked into the front door, undisturbed leaves or unshoveled snow in the driveway?
- Do you have gun stickers on your vehicle, home windows, or visible gun safes from a front room or through a side window? Do you visibly leave your home dressed in camouflage, or carrying gun cases or ammo cans?
- Sure, your front door may have a security screen, but what about the back door?
- Are your windows locked and blocked with rods? Are there thick bushes under them that would enable someone to hide?
- Do you have an active security system, and could a casual passerby see that?
- Do you or your neighbors have a dog that likes to make noise when someone gets too close?
- When the blinds on your windows are open, what can you see from the street?
- Are there lights on inside and out when it's dark? When you're gone, is there noise coming from the house, such as a radio or TV?
- Do your neighbors get suspicious when someone is poking around or an unknown vehicle drives down the road? Do you know your neighbors?
- Are your doors locked during the day? How about your windows?
- Does your home have the nicest looking paint job, the best manicured lawn, and the newest vehicles in the driveway?
And then there are those criminals who cannot be deterred, who do not fear detection, and have overcome your delay tactics - these are the true wolves, and there is only way to deal with them. The fourth D of home defense is to Defend. For this you must have the tools and the training to get the job done right - seek out professional instruction on the effective selection and proper use of whatever defensive tools you have selected for you family. This is not the place to pinch pennies, especially if you have already done so under the Deter, Detect, and Delay processes. This may be your last resort, and more than just tools and training are required - the proper survival mindset is a necessity. Again, professional instruction should be sought out and completed for not just you but every member of your household. After all, criminals don't just come knocking while you are at home cleaning your guns; rather, they tend to show up when your kids just got home from school or your spouse is home alone while you are out of town.
As much as I wish it weren't true, home invasions, property damage, and personal assaults are on the rise. As our nation continues to struggle through a down economy, some people out there choose to take the easy way out and take from others to provide for their own needs, sometimes injuring those they are stealing from, or worse. Here are a few additional things to consider when you are evaluating your personal security:
- How much personal information do you put on your social media pages? Do you post that you are going on vacation or that you just got back from vacation? Can someone figure out where you work or where your kids go to school?
- Are your safes bolted to the floor, and are the hinges on the inside of the safe?
- Do you allow just anyone, such as service people or sales personnel, to see inside your home? If they took a look in your front room through the doorway, what would they see of value?
- Do you know who is in your home and the information they may have access to? Who are the people in their lives that they may tell? I casual observation such as "Billy's dad sure has a lot of guns" can go a long way down a bad chain.
- When was the last time you participated in a neighborhood watch program or a community policing program? Do you have such a program in your area - if not, why not?
- Do you have a list of your valuables, including pictures, video, and serial numbers?
- Does your homeowner's policy or renter's insurance cover all of your property, even your most expensive items?
- How do you exit or enter your car or garage? Do you leave an opening for someone to come into your home, such as closing the garage door without watching it until it hits the ground? Are there windows in your garage door which would allow someone to see in?
Stay Aware, Stay Safe, and Train Hard.