We were invited to our friends’ home for dinner recently and I noticed they had installed security cameras inside their home. I asked them if they had them live 24/7 or just during certain hours of the day. I was shocked to hear they were programmed to only monitor the interior of the home while they were sleeping. It appears they believed that is the only time there is a potential threat. Immediately, I realized how truly misguided the vast majority of people are and how necessary it was for me to write this article.
The reality is, home invasions happen at epidemic levels. According to the US Department of Justice, burglaries occur roughly 2.5 million times a year, 66% of which were homes – a huge number. That translates into one burglary every 13 seconds. Now here is the kicker, these burglaries are 6% more likely to happen in the daytime hours than at night. Approximately, 1.5 million home burglaries happen during the day, and 1.3 million at night. Of those numbers, 27.6% of them happen while someone is home. In the 27.6% that someone was home, 38% happened when they were asleep and 44% were while someone was awake and engaged in other activities. And lastly, ~7% of all burglaries resulted is a household member becoming a victim of violent crime.
According to a study conducted by UNC Charlotte on the habits and motivations of burglars, 83% admitted that they specifically look to see if the home is protected by an alarm system; 60% said they would change their mind if one was installed. This leads to what else should be done to help prevent from becoming a home invasion victim. First of all, if you have made the investment in various technology to prevent from becoming a victim, or technology that would aid in the capture and arrest of a criminal, use it. That’s about as fundamental as it gets. But, what else can a homeowner do?
Surprisingly, most of what can be done to prevent from becoming a victim is quite simple and inexpensive.
- Cut back shrubbery from around the house to eliminate hiding spots for home invaders.
- Light the exterior of your home at night, all night. This means from sun down to sun up, front, sides, and back. If you are afraid of electricity costs, replace your bulbs with LED bulbs. And don’t bother with the motion sensing type. Burglars are on to them. Just leave the exterior floodlights on all night. That will prevent the thug from walking up in the first place.
- Get a security system and use it. SimpliSafe (simplisafe.com) is actually a pretty good and affordable option. Advertise that you have one.
- Ensure you have double cylinder locks so there is a key hole on the inside and outside of the door if you have glass doors or windows right next to your doors where someone could just break the glass and reach in to unlock the door.
- Install heavy duty strike plates with screws that go deep into the frame.
- Get metal or solid wood core exterior doors.
- People who take this stuff seriously and understand the reality of this kind of attack go the extra mile and replace an interior door with a metal or solid wood core door on a room to be used as a safe room to hide in should an invasion occur.
- Keep your doors locked. Always.
- Keep your garage door closed.
- Make noise if you are home and there is a break in. Many burglars have no interest in a home that has people in it. Even shout things like, “Honey, get the gun!” if there is an intruder.
- If you have a gun, for God’s sake make sure it’s ready to go and make darn sure you know how to use it. There are numerous ways to keep a gun extremely accessible and completely safe if you have kids in the house. I use the Vaultek VT20i biometric handgun safe in my bedroom.
- The absolute safest place to keep your firearm while your’re home is on your person. It makes it immediately accessible should you become a victim and keeps it out of the reach of children. Of the people I know that take self defense seriously, all of them keep their firearms on them in and out of the home. Paranoia? I think not. There’s a big difference between paranoia and preparedness. It is impossible to predict a home invasion the same way it’s impossible to predict a fire. You have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers not because you are paranoid, but because you are prepared.
- Dogs are a huge deterrent.
- Use timers to operate lights, TV’s, etc. when on vacation.
- Ask your neighbors to park their car in your driveway if you are on an extended vacation.
- Take photos of your valuables, record serial numbers, and even consider engraving your DL # somewhere on the item to help police match you back up with the property should it be found.
- And, lastly, NEVER open the door for someone that you do not recognize or were not expecting. Just don’t do it, regardless of whatever their story is, don’t do it.
Home invasions happen hundreds of times a day. Most of what you can do to prevent them takes little to no effort. How you can defend yourself if it should happen to you boils down to making a simple decision and getting some training. What decision are you going to make?
Let’s keep the conversation going by commenting your thoughts.
PS. If you’d like to take your personal defense to the next level and get your Concealed Weapons Permit, we’d love for you to join us at one of our upcoming classes on February 8th or March 7th.
Joe Shahoud is the owner and lead instructor at Safe Family Defense LLC, a firearms training academy that serves the greater Columbia, SC area specializing in pistol, concealed weapons permits, and general education in personal safety.
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