Intruder Alert: Defending Against Home Invasions

Home Invaders
Home Invasion Double Murder. Image source: YouTube

Protecting the home and family should be the top priority for everyone, not just those who call themselves preppers. A home that isn’t secure is a danger to family, property and resources. While some things can be replaced, it’s more important to prevent their loss in the first place. There are no fool proof, one size fits all plans, but there are common basic steps that can be taken that would increase home security. The most basic steps fall into 4 categories: detect, deny, delay and defend.

Below is a video of a home invasion in Bradenton, Florida where a couple was killed while 5 children in the house slept. The police were notified of a problem after the alarm monitoring company contacted them when there was no response from the victims. Although this couple was killed, we should look at the video as a lesson in how we can protect our home. The video doesn’t contain the actual murders, it’s just of the intruders gaining entry.

Hindsight is 20/20 and we often look back at things and think what we should or could have done differently. When given the opportunity to examine someone else’s actions or scenario, we should take advantage of it to strengthen ourselves. When analyzing the video, there are a number of red flags that are raised and we should consider them when looking at our own security.

The three security measures that we know the victims had in place did little to actually save their lives or deter the intruders. The security camera, alarm system and locked door may offer piece of mind, but they don’t offer protection by themselves and are minor obstacles to a determined intruder. The security camera doesn’t do anything other than record what happens. It doesn’t secure, protect or alert. An alarm monitoring system is great for alerting the police of an intruder, but if the intruder’s motive is murder, it may not stop them. In this situation, the intruders didn’t have to worry too much about the locked door because the doors had large glass windows that were easily broken, allowing them to reach inside and unlock the door; 10 seconds and they were in. The last thing of note was that the light in the home appeared to be on. This allowed the intruders to clearly see what was going on in the house. It’s very important to learn from this incident. If it happens to us, we can’t go back and “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”

Detect

It’s not enough to have a security camera if you can’t instantly monitor it. Having a recording is great to see who stole your package left by FedEx, but there should be monitors that show you what’s happening in real time. One of these monitors should be in the bedroom and can be turned on instantly, no warm up period, and clearly shows all cameras. Being able to quickly detect intruders will give you time to react and take the appropriate steps to ensure your safety. Fumbling with your phone to open an app to view your cameras takes up valuable time in an emergency. From the time the glass was broken to the door opening was 10 seconds. If the intruders had predefined roles and were in position, they could have entered the home within 5 seconds. After the glass was broken, four to five seconds were spent getting someone to put their hand inside to unlock the door, and two to three more were spent trying to open the door using his shirt. Imagine hearing a noise, waking up, getting your wits about you to find and see your phone in the dark and launch your camera-viewing app in less than 5 seconds.

Deny/Delay

An intruder should not be able to gain access to your home in less than 5 seconds. Large glass panels on doors or windows next to doors are security risks. For doors with glass, having a wire mesh embedded in the glass that extends into the door will make the glass less likely to shatter and prevent the intruder from reaching inside without considerable effort. For existing doors and windows, a security film that covers the glass may be the best solution. While the film prevents the glass from shattering and is puncture resistant, after repeated attempts it will eventually give way. It will significantly delay the intruder’s advancement and allow for defensive actions to be taken. In addition to securing all glass with the film, doors should have a secondary lock that cannot be reached through the glass on the door or a window. If there are stairs directly in front of the door, a security bar can be wedged between the door and steps. I’ve heard many times that fastening the door chain is useless. Everyone I’ve heard that from had no experience with it. I’ve witnessed someone having to repeatedly kick in the door because the door chain was fastened. It may not keep out a determined intruder, but it will slow their advances and alert the occupants. Installed correctly and securely, it will give an intruder a hard time.

Defend

In this situation, after the intruders gained entry, we don’t know exactly what happened in the house. We don’t know if the victims were armed or if they were initially aware of the intruders. It’s easy to speculate, but we should be more focused on what we can do to protect ourselves if we are ever in a similar situation. When faced with armed intruders, we too should be armed. When faced with unarmed intruders, we should still be armed. It’s better to assume an intruder is armed and be prepared to face that threat than to be caught out there unarmed. Having a firearm doesn’t mean it has to be used, but it will give you the advantage or at least level the playing field. And it’s not enough to just have a gun. You should know how to use and care for it. Appropriate training, target practice, planning and drills (with mock firearms) are a must. Drills should never be conducted with a loaded firearm, accidents happen. Without practice, dangerous flaws in a plan may be exposed when it comes time to execute it.

As for the lights being on at 3 o’clock in the morning, this is more my personal preference than a set rule, I think it causes an issue with safety. In the video, we saw the guy closest to the door looking in before the rock is thrown. With the lights on, an intruder can clearly see into the home before entering, once they get in, they can freely move within the well-lit home. You may easily see the intruder, but the same holds true for the reverse. A darkened house will hinder the intruder’s visibility and mobility while maximizing your home field advantage. Some may argue that having the lights on at that time may deter an intruder looking for an easy score; giving the impression of someone being awake. Every situation is different, as is every setup. If you prefer the lights on, ensure someone can’t see in. If you prefer the lights off, ensure you can easily move about. Your plan should take this preference into account and should be part of your drill. If it doesn’t work in a drill, assume it’s not going to work in practice.

A determined intruder is not easily deterred, delaying their advancement gives you valuable time to react. Always make sure you lock doors and windows. Sometimes you may be too tired to do the walk around and since nothing happened last night, we think skipping one night won’t hurt. Always remember, we are safe until something happens. We live in a society where we have to take our security into our own hands. Depending on someone else to protect and save us is the biggest mistake we can make. I’ve personally seen a police response time of over 1 hour after an ADT intruder alarm. Although it was a false alarm, it shows the level of police involvement in some communities. While this is a topic for another discussion, it bears mentioning; it has been argued and ruled in favor of numerous times, police have no duty to protect the individual, only the public at large. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s where we are as a country. They are under no legal duty to help if we are in need of it, even if they are witnessing the crime. You have to help yourself.

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