Home Defense 101 – Crime Rises but Police Protection Is AWOL

By Lee Bellinger / November 12, 2013
Secure your Home From Danger
Millions of Americans are settling in for permanent unemployment as Congress continues to extend joblessness benefits. An idle public with a sense of entitlement combined with economic malaise is a prescription for crime.
At the same time, higher federal funding and control of local cops is changing law enforcement’s priorities. As society’s “protectors” spend more of their time scanning commerce sites such as Craigslist to collect taxes and shut down garage sales, pursuing high-tech swindlers, online sexual predators, interstate drug peddlers, freight hijacking rings, immigrants who are here either illegally or with criminal intent – run-of-the-mill, smash-and-grab crooks are often getting a pass.
Home Owners Need to Actively
Assess Their Security Needs
Property crimes are expensive. They affect your insurance rates and can leave you holding the bag for repairs of the damage done by criminals while breaking in. In the worst case, they can turn deadly if a home invader stumbles upon you and your loved ones while you’re at home.
You are always your own best first line of defense. As the old saying goes, “when seconds count, the police are minutes away.” Being ready for anything includes being able to defend your home.
But with a little effort up front, you can make your home less appealing for vandals and burglars. And, with a little training, you can be ready to protect yourself and your loved ones from dangerous intruders. Hopefully, it never comes to that, but you’re way better off knowing these techniques and not needing them – than needing them and not knowing them!
Startling Statistics You Absolutely Need to Know About
Many more people than you might realize fall victim to home invasions. Even I was surprised by the prevalence of this type of crime when I checked the stats:
Burglar Breaking Window to a Home
  • One in five households will be broken into at some point.
  • More than two-thirds of break-ins target residences rather than commercial properties. (I suspect that this is because even though the contents of a business may be more valuable, the contents of a home are more marketable.)
  • Half of all burglars are armed during a break in.
  • Nearly half of home invasions result in physical injuries to the victims.
Considering these facts, you would be very wise to think about whether anything in your home (other than your loved ones, or course) is worth risking your life for. It is really not worth risking your life to defend your stuff. If you have the opportunity to flee safely, do so. Engaging in combat with an armed intruder might save your possessions, but it might also get you killed.
In any case, with local law enforcement either not interested or not able to make protection of your property a priority, you must be prepared to defend yourself.
Don’t Be an Easy Target
The first step to protecting your home is to make sure it doesn’t look like an easy target. There are several things you can do to your home’s exterior that will send criminals on to find easier pickings.
The first things to secure are your doors. A good deadbolt lock is important, but it’s only as strong as the door on which it’s installed. If you have a thin or paneled door in a wooden frame, criminals will have an easy time kicking it in. Consider investing in a more secure door. A steel-clad or solid-wood door holds up much better against an attempted forceful entry.
You can also reinforce the doorframe by driving hardened steel screws through the frame and into the studs. To do this, you’ll have to remove the molding around the doors to get at the studs. You may also need to place wooden shims between the doorframe and the studs. By attaching the doorframe to the studs, you’ll lend extra strength to the frame, which also makes forceful entry more difficult.
It’s not that these steps make your home “burglar-proof.” But simply slowing the invaders down leaves them more exposed to detection, gives you more time to escape or prepare, and gives you a chance of having them decide that their best move is to cut and run.
Your windows are the next thing to reinforce. You might find replacing all the windows in your home with break-resistant glass to be prohibitively expensive (however homeowners in some neighborhoods where property values and/or crime rates are high have gone this route). If that’s not an option, I encourage you to take a few simple steps to deter criminals from using your windows as doors.
First, if you’re going out for the day – or even for an hour – close your blinds and curtains. This makes it difficult for would-be burglars to case your home. If they can’t confirm that you have something worth stealing, they may look elsewhere. Close your blinds at night, too, when thieves can check out your home (and your things) unobserved. Finally, you can further increase the security of your windows by planting thorny, but decorative, bushes beneath them.
Landscaping and lighting provide other ways to deter criminals. Take a moment to step outside and examine the bushes, shrubs, and trees in your yard. Do any of them provide an easy way for a criminal to sneak close to your home without being seen? If so, those particular plants should be trimmed so that they provide less cover.
You can also install a motion-sensitive exterior lighting system for very little expense. These lights come on whenever there’s a certain amount of movement in your yard. So, a light breeze moving through your plants won’t cause the lights to come on, but a burglar skulking toward your home will. When motion lights click on suddenly they draw attention to your home, they startle the criminal, and they make it easier to see what’s happening on your property. They’re a very effective tool that you can use to prevent home invasions.
Work with Your Neighbors
Neighborhood watch groups have proved to be an effective deterrent against criminals – especially criminals that are looking to make a quick buck on some stolen property and who don’t want any confrontation.
A neighborhood watch is usually organized in a community of single-family homes and covers anywhere from a single block to an entire neighborhood. The watch is an agreement between neighbors to keep an eye out for suspicious activity and to report it immediately.
Neighborhood watch organizations usually hold regular meetings. Participants get to know one another’s schedules so that it’s easier to identify unusual activity. As far as crime deterrents go, statistics show that neighborhood watches are actually one of the most effective.
Make Some Noise
Setting Alarm System Before Leaving Home
Now that we have reviewed several things you can do to protect your home on the outside, let’s take a look at a few things you can do on the inside.
First, think about installing an alarm system. Such a system can provide you three benefits. The noise it makes when set off may be enough to startle and scare a burglar so that he runs off rather than continuing his attempts to steal from you. If the noise doesn’t scare the burglar away, and you are home, it will at least give you some warning that you’re in danger so you can take action. And, a good alarm system will alert the police even if you’re unable to call about the break-in.
Make sure any alarm system you choose has an at-home setting. This setting detects breeches at the doors or windows, but does not respond to motion inside your home. That means you can move around without triggering the alarm, but if anyone tries to come in, you’ll know!
Another excellent deterrent is a dog. Most dogs are territorial. They’ll bark if they hear anything unusual in or around your home. In many cases, a dog will give you even more advanced warning than an alarm system. And, many criminals don’t like the idea of facing off with dogs, so they might move on as soon as they hear the barking. Don’t get me wrong, dogs are a LOT of work. So don’t get one unless you have the dedication and the resources to take care of it!
Arm Yourself
A gun is an important tool, and if you’ve trained to use it, it can provide you protection from even the most determined thieves.
Practice use of Firearms Properly
Just about every adult in America has the right to purchase a handgun – or a shotgun – for home protection. But, simply having a gun is not enough. You must make sure you purchase a gun that you can easily handle. You should be able to rack the slide, release the magazine, and de-cock the trigger with ease. Once you do purchase a gun, take the time to learn to use it, and then practice with it regularly.
For a handgun to be useful as a home protection tool, you must be confident in its handling and use. Otherwise it can become a danger to you rather than an asset.
An excellent alternative to a handgun is a shotgun. The mere sound of the pump action on a shotgun will send most burglars out the nearest door in less than a heartbeat!
Take a Moment to Assess Your
Home Security Measures NOW!
Defending your home is something you can do largely through common sense. Make sure your doors and windows are secure. Install an outdoor lighting system. And, use some sort of alarm. Unfortunately, you may not be able to count on a quick police response should someone attempt to invade your home.
That’s why paying attention to home defense is another key step in being ready for anything.