Just to be clear, when I say “home invasion”, I’m also referring to your bug-out location which should also be fortified. The fact that you don’t visit your second home much makes it that more vulnerable to people who might try to take it over.
A Few Home Invasion Statistics
Before we begin, I think it’s important I give you a few stats on home invasions that will hopefully make motivate you to take action:
- 30% of burglars enter a home through an open door or window. It’s often just too tempting to resist.
- Most burglars avoid homes with security systems. Just the fact that you have a sticker that says a home alarm is present could cause them to call it quits and choose another house.
- If your home has already been broken into, the odds of it happening a second time are greater.
- In 28% of burglaries, the owner is at home when the invasion occurs.
Those are pretty shocking stats if it’s the first time you’re hearing them…
Ok, here’s how we’re gonna do this. For each location (your home, your bug out location, or any other building you’re looking to protect against a home invasion) there’re going to be a series of steps you need to take.
The assessment part is easy; simply look at your house from the bad guy’s perspective. Go outside and ask yourself questions like:
If I were the bad guy, how would I get in? If I really wanted something that’s inside this house, what would I do and how easy would it be for me to do it?
This is the number one thing you need to ask yourself and rest assured the answers are going to come. Things like:
Well, I’m just gonna jump over the fence, then head to the back door, break that small window, and open the door from the inside.
I can go through that hole in the fence, then climb up that tree up to the first floor, cut the screen and go in through that open window.
There are probably numerous ways to get inside. The key is to not rush it and to really think about this. You can’t go after 5 seconds: Well, that’s it, I have no idea! You have to spend time and analyze your location, just like a burglar would (or already has!).
Look at every visible element (including trees, doors, windows, etc.) and ask yourself: which one of these is vulnerable. Which of these are my house’s weakest points?
There are two types of scenarios you need to prepare for. One is the common break-in, when one or two intruders decide to pay you a visit and ransack your home.
The other is the one we all fear most, a true home invasion, maybe after Martial Law has been declared and your town has been taken over by gangs of angry rioters. If you take care of the second scenario, you’ve taken care of the first one by default.
You have to carefully analyze all possibilities and ask yourself:
OK, if we’re all inside and a vicious gang decides it wants to come in, how are we going to prevent that?
Keep in mind they might take their time before coming inside. They might carefully analyze your house before making a move and might even try to take you by surprise. Needless to say, you need to be protected from all directions.
The crucial question you must ask yourself is: Why my house?
This is a fantastic question because you’re going to discover the things that cause your home to stand out among the other houses. Oftentimes, it’s not the house itself but the neighborhood that makes it a good target. Maybe there are a lot of vacant houses and poor lighting, any burglar’s dream.
One other thing you should do is take a good look at your house at night. Maybe it’s easy for anyone to see what’s happening inside and even take a peek at some of your valuables. In this case, installing some curtains is the least you can do and you have to do it fast.
Now that you know the weak spots of your home, it’s time to fix them. We need to start with the yard because we want to make it really hard for them at every turn. If your yard is well protected, a lot of thieves are simply going to give up.
Now, I’m not saying you need to make your home look like a bunker, not by a long shot. This will only pique the curiosity of organized gangs and will serve to make you a prime target during civil unrest.
Have you ever heard of CPTED? It stands for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and it’s another way of saying: defending your home by making the surroundings look too daunting for the invaders to even try.
That’s a mouthful right there but, when you think about it, it all makes sense. If you can get the bad guys to come to the conclusion that it’s too hard to attack you, they might just forget about it and move on. And if they don’t, you’ll at least be in a more powerful position because when they are coming, you’ll be there, waiting for them.
My Top Tactical Home Design Tips
- Install security cameras even if they aren’t functional. The fact that they THINK they’re being recorded might scare them enough for them to leave you alone. If the cameras aren’t really working, you need to make sure you don’t reveal that to anyone.
- Mark your territory by clearly distinguishing public from private property. Just like a dog uses its urine to tell other dogs “this is my territory”, you should use pavement, fences, planter boxes, gardens, sidewalks, etc. to let everyone know they can’t just walk in. Even though this doesn’t really stop them physically, you’re sending them a message: You’re messing with the wrong guy. It’s important to note that CPTED focuses on design, not safety.
- Maximize your ability to see the public and private space around your home from inside your house. At the bare minimum, you need to see who’s ringing the doorbell without them knowing you’re there. Plus, in case of a home invasion, it’s crucial you know as soon as possible who’s coming, from what direction(s), and whether or not they have guns.
- Install lights over parking spaces so there’s no way for a burglar to hide as he’s moving towards the entry point. Furthermore, if public lighting isn’t working, alert whoever’s in charge and stay on them until they fix it.
- Avoid having pillars, big trees and other places where bad guys could hide.
- Make sure your home is well maintained and make it look like there’s someone there at all times. Lights that go on and off at night would work well when you’re away for a longer period of time.
Strengthen Your Home
There’s a lot of DIY work to be done:
- You will need to install plywood on each window when SHTF. For right now, you just have to measure it, label it, and keep it somewhere you can easily get to it when it’s time.
- Install laminated glass on all the outside doors that have windows on them.
- Get stronger exterior doors or, at the very least, stronger nails to hold those doors into place.
- Use double cylinder deadbolts for all exterior doors.
- Install a door barricade or even a door stop.
- Secure your attic hatches just in case they try to come down through there.
- Get a couple of dogs. Keep one on the outside and the other on the inside at night. In case they poison the first one, the second is going to tip you off that something’s wrong.
No matter how good a job you do, you just have to prepare for the likely event that your home will face an invasion, despite all your efforts. The trick here is that, as long as you’re going to fight your attackers, you might as well do it on your terms.
Here’s what I mean…
What you should do is to arrange your house in such a way that it compels the attackers to take a certain route. Little will they know that the small window that seems to be the most accessible is actually the one you intentionally left open and is also a trap.
Next, you have to think of a way to sound the alarm, so to speak so everyone in your house knows that it’s crunch time. A dog may bark when seeing an animal, the alarm may go off for whatever reason but what you need is a signal, such as a powerful whistle or simply shouting of a certain word.
You’ll probably have whistles in your bug out bag as well so why not get a few more to have around the house. You can find plenty on Amazon, by the way.
Another great way to be notified when a burglar comes in is to have a bell on all doors. Sure, this might be a little annoying during daytime when everyone’s coming and going but it’s 99% sure you’ve got trouble when you hear it at 2 o’clock in the morning.
Last but not least, you need to designate and know by heart all your escape routes. Every room inside your house, including your safe room, should have means of escape. The most important thing to remember is to never block those routes. If they all pass through a certain portion of the driveway, make sure you never park your car there.
Build or Designate a Safe Room
Safe rooms should be your last chance when trapped inside your own home with nowhere else to go. Even so, if you’re smart, you’ll leave yourself a way to escape (I’ll tell you how in a minute).
If you’re building your house from scratch, you’re very fortunate. You decide where you want a safe room, how big you want it, and you don’t have to sacrifice your second bathroom in order to have it. You have full control. If your house is already built, you’re gonna re-purpose an existing room to be your safe-room.
Either way, you need to make sure you have supplies and weapons inside the safe room, just in case your attackers are successful. Food will help you to hold out longer if your attackers decide to settle in and wait for you to starve to death. The weapons will become useful if they do the exact opposite and force their way inside the safe room.
If you really want to be sure something is working, you need to test it, right? I’m talking, of course, about doing family drills to make absolutely sure everyone knows what to do in case of a home invasion.
There’s a wide variety of home invasion scenarios you can try. The easiest one is to simply pretend that someone’s broken into your home at 2 AM in the morning and that you’re all upstairs sleeping. Your goal should be to get out of the house safely using your escape routes.
This is going to be a true learning experience for you and your loved ones because you really get to see what’s working and what’s not.
Just because your home can withstand any invasion, this doesn’t mean your work is over. There are other things, little things you must do every single day to ensure you’re never caught unprepared. Let’s talk about them.
Keep your mouth shut
OPSEC (operation security) is crucial. The less people know about your “fortified” house, the better. And one of the best ways to keep them from finding out is to never let them in. A lot of times, the burglar is someone who’s already been inside and saw something they like (think plumbers, electricians, and so on).
Now I’m not saying you should never let strangers inside your home, but if there are things you can repair on your own, then why not?
One last thing: never talk or brag on Facebook about going on vacation. Some thieves use social networks to track owners who leave their homes unattended for longer periods of time because this will give them plenty of time to operate.
Always keep the doors and windows locked
Since a good percentage of these invasions occur when either a door or a window is left open, it’s critical that you and your family create the habit of always locking everything up, even if you go to the store for just 5 minutes and even when you’re at home!
Avoid breaking the law
The laws where you live may not allow you to defend yourself in one way or another. For example, it’s almost always legal to shoot to kill when someone breaks into your home but that’s not the case in Massachusetts. You also need to check what guns you can or cannot own, as well as what surveillance equipment is legal to use.
Well, that’s it for now but I could have added 10 times more information easily on home defense and home invasions. Can you think of things that would help us prepare for a home invasion?