This kind of thing freaks me out. This kind of stuff will keep me awake at night if I let it. If you train, then watch this home invasion scene just before you train – you’ll lift heavier, you’ll sprint faster, you’ll train harder than you thought you could or safely should. I do not want that to be me and my family – so I prepare. Home invasions are never good news.
There’s that old joke about outrunning lions – you don’t have to be faster than the lion, just faster than the guy next to you. Defending your house is similar. You don’t have to be Fort Knox, you just have to be a harder target than the other houses in your street. So let’s look at how to turn your house into a harder target.
Principles, not rules
I like principles over rules. If my rule is “don’t throw things out the grocery trolley” then inevitably one of my kids puts it on the edge and lets it “fall” out the trolley. Specific rules only work for specific situations. Some of you live in houses with gardens, some in an apartment block. So what I’m going to do is give you the 4 principles of home defense. This way you’ll be able to take what I say and apply it to your situation (that I haven’t seen).
The 4 D’s of home defense
There are 4 “layers” of defense to keeping your home safe. While any 1 of them will improve your safety, they work together to make your home a hard target. But, leave out any of the layers and you’re putting yourself (and your family) at risk.
Each of these 4 D’s, these layers of security, addresses a specific aspect of home defense. They are
1 – Deter
2 – Detect
3 – Defend
4 – Decide
The first 2 overlap somewhat and the last 2 should interact a lot (this is where most people fall down).
If you can deter the BG then hoorah! No BG, no problem. This is first prize – stopping the BG before he even selects you as a victim.
(If we simplify) There are 3 aspects to deterring a home invader/burglar etc.:
The first is not looking like a valuable target. A high risk target might be worth it if there’s a big reward at the end of the rainbow. Overt displays of wealth are discouraged here. This does not mean make your place look like shit, just look like the average for the others places around you. If everyone else has golden chandeliers for garden lights, then you can match. Stupid stuff like flatscreen TV boxes outside your gate. It doesn’t take much to rip the box up and put it in a garbage bag. Having curtains or lace curtains are a great way to make sure the BG can’t see in your windows to decide how much cool shit he could steal.
When outrunning the lion you only have to be faster than the slowest guy, but it helps if you don’t look extra fat and juicy. It might make the lion decide you’re worth the extra effort.
The second is how difficult it is to break into your place. Your neighbour leaves his door open day and night, leaves the keys in his car and puts his phone on the table next to the open front door. You, you sneaky bastard you, have security gates on all the external doors, burglar bars on all the windows and all your garden walls have nice thorny (and delicious) raspberries growing all over them. Nothing like getting all scratched up while getting into the victim’s garden only to discover there are no big bushes to hide behind and there’s going to be a fight to get through the locked security gates and doors.
The third overlaps with detection. If the BG thinks he’ll be spotted before he even gets in, then he’s going to start analysing your neighbour’s place instead. Illumination, dogs, and no hiding places are your friend, and the BG’s enemy, here.
While you’re unlikely to be looking out the window the moment the BG decides to hop your fence, if there are bright lights shining in his eyes then he can’t see inside to make sure you aren’t looking outside right then. Uncertainty in the BG’s mind is king.
Dogs. You can take your alarm company and shove it, give me a small dog to be alert and wake up the big dog for intimidation. This book on South African Home Invasions was very enlightening. Especially the part where the robbers interviewed said they didn’t care about security companies, but dogs were the number 1 deterrent to them picking a target.
There’s a famous quote:
“Sir, why do we post guards? The enemy will just blast through them.”
“The guards aren’t there to stop them, they’re there to slow them down so we don’t wake up with the bastards in our tents.”
Well that’s exactly what we’re after. Deterring the BG is the first layer of security. Detection is for if deterrence fails. If the BG decides that you are worth the risk, then you need to know he’s breaking in as early in the process as possible.
If you don’t detect the Bad Guy, then you’re at a big disadvantage.
Detection can run the gamut from cheap solutions (motion detectors, window/door alarms, dogs, crunchy gravel around the house – or try these for international readers) to expensive stuff (fully installed alarms from security companies with armed response).
Lights outside your house can help you see when the dogs start barking. Motion detectors inside can help wake you up if someone manages to get inside.
Whatever you go with, the detection layer is about waking you up or snapping you out or your TV induced haze. Once you’re alerted to the BG’s you can then respond accordingly.
If the BG isn’t deterred and decides to break into your place, you better hope you detect him because now we’re down to Defend.
If you’re detected the BGs (and there will probably be more than one – in South Africa the average is apparently 4) then you’ve got some warning and some time. If you didn’t detect him, then you’ve got a much nastier fight on your hand.
If you have time, then barricading your “safe room” (you know, the room you prepared ahead of time with a security gate and permanently charging cellphone and weapons) might work. You might even get to toss a pepper spray grenade/pepper balls at them. Heck, those might even work. Or just waiting them out may work while you phone for backup. (Here’s a South African link for a pepper spray grenade)
If you didn’t detect them in time then you end up with this paraphrased tactic from the book on South African home invaders:
– We go up to the bed and whip the blankets off them. Then we watch where they grab for so we can get the weapons away from them before they can fight us.-
That’s why you need to detect them early.
Do I recommend guns? Abso-fucking-lutely I do. No amount of pepper spray or stun guns (stun guns suck and don’t do much) can make an 84 year old lady (or a young boy) (or a young girl) the equal of the 20 year old home invader/torturer/rapist. A pistol can. Glock 17, Walther P22, whatever. Whatever you have and train with. And train your kids with.
I don’t care if you have the arsenal of the Marine Corps at your disposal – if you haven’t done the mental and emotional homework to decide under what circumstances you will and will not fight and will/will not kill someone, then the guns and knives and pepper spray won’t do squat. It’s you who has to pull the trigger and drop the hammer on a living human being.
What are you willing to accept before you flip the switch and kill? Will you let someone steal your stuff? Let them beat you? Let them tie your hands? Let them take you to a separate room from your wife and kids? Decide beforehand where your lines in the sand are. When you’re adrenalized and pissed off and scared and very uncertain, that’s not the time to make calculated decisions. Especially considering that BGs are really good at giving you false hope to keep you paralysed. “We’ll bring her right back. We just need her to show us where the phones and money are.” Are they lying? Are they being honest? YOU CAN”T KNOW THAT. But the kids are with you – do you leave them to go take out the other BGs? In the moment is a terrible time to run through the possibilities, your options and the likely consequences.
You have to have a plan already in place and follow it violently.
A beautiful Rory Miller hypothetical is what if one BG takes you outside to the garage to go get duct tape? You overpower the BG – do you run for help or go back inside? Running might make the remaining BGs decide they don’t have time, help is on the way, and so they bail and escape before your backup arrives. If you go back inside and get overpowered again? Then what.
The 7 P’s reign supreme
Proper Previous Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance