In Gunfighter Cast Episode GC-132, Joe Weyer of Alliance Defense Training and I talk about developing a home defense plan and offer ways to harden your home based on historical criminal attacks and burglaries.
Do you know what a good home defense plan looks like? Meyer recommends window and door preparation as well as an intentional layout of landscape and lighting. We also cover alarm systems and surveillance cameras.
But beyond preparing the structure of your home against invasion, what do you do when an intruder is in your home? Have you trained with your firearm? Does everyone in your family know the drill for such an event? Do you know your state laws and how to coordinate with dispatch and the police who come to your assistance?
Listen up and learn how to make your home defense plan.
This podcast was originally published in January of 2017.
Host: Daniel Shaw
Guest: Joe Weyer
Introduction/Timeline: Stephanie Kimmell
Home Defense | Harden Your Home and Develop a Plan
1:08 Home Defense: When you hear that bump in the night and you realize that someone’s broken into your home — do you know what to do?
2:35 Where do you start?
• You need to have a plan.
·Consider the layout of your home. People who live in two-story homes will need a different plan than those who live in ranch-style homes.
·Make sure your doors and locks are ‘hardened’, the windows are kept shut, and that you have a good alarm system. Even so, it’s not difficult for invaders to breach any door.
·If you’re going to arm yourself, make sure you have training and are able to make decisions in defense of your family. Get yourself up to speed on the Use of Force laws in your state and be able to positively identify, for sure, whether or not the intruder is truly a bad guy. Make sure the firearm is stored properly and is easily accessible.
4:47 How do you ‘harden’ a window?
·Make sure that the locks are in good repair and are engaged. Often, windows may be shut but not locked due to forgetfulness or even swelling that resulted from humidity.
·Put film on the windows, it can help resist when someone tries to break the glass. If installed properly, the film functions to keep the glass together instead of shattering. The film offers other benefits in the case of natural disasters as well by the same function.
6:36 Maintain the landscaping and lighting around your house. Bad guys like dark, shadowy areas where they can lurk undetected.
·Keep a clean perimeter around your house so the neighbors can have a clear view from the street.
·Thorny bushes by the windows aren’t really effective at discouraging invaders. They can easily be cut away and most people trim them a bit away from the house anyway, providing a space for the intruder to take cover.
7:37 How do you set up a good lighting system?
·Look at other houses and take note — you can tell the ones that are well-lit.
·Landscaping lights set around the house are effective, and they don’t have to cost a lot of money. Some are solar powered, and LED lights are more cost effective than mercury lights.
·Mount the lights high so they illuminate the perimeter of your house, and can’t be easily knocked out.
8:54 How do you ‘harden’ doors? Make it so difficult that they give up or realize that they’ve made so much noise that they abandon the effort.
·Replace wooden doors with steel doors.
·Switch the door from inward-opening to outward-opening. Doing so alleviates the ability for an intruder to just kick the door in, even if it’s set in a wood frame. With set up, they have to bring tools — it’s a deterrent. It’s also going to be noisier.
·If it isn’t an option to switch your door from a push door to a pull door, the two screws in the strike plate are the only barrier between the intruder and you. With standard doors, the screws are small and all the bad guy has to do is break the wood where the screws are installed.
·Reinforce the strike plate by routing out the area where the strike plate goes and replace the original plate with a 1/4-inch thick steel strike plate. Secure it into the wood frame with four-inch-long screws instead of the smaller screws normally used.
·Have a good dead-bolt.
·Although some people recommend key-lock dead bolts, they can actually be a hazard. In the event of a housefire, which is statistically more likely to occur than a break-in, people can be trapped inside if the key isn’t in right there. This is concerning, especially if there are kids in the home. However, if there are windows in the door, a key-lock deadbolt might be a reasonable option because an intruder could just break the window, reaching in, and turn the lock.
·A double throw deadbolt slides farther into the frame for greater force resistance.
·Install a quality chain lock, like you see in a hotel. These are helpful even if you go to answer the door but don’t want to allow easy access to the person outside. The chain lock still helps with a pull door, but isn’t quite as effective as it is on a push door. Also, it presents a sizeable barrier if the intruder has defeated the knob and the deadbolt. When the chain catches the door, it creates more noise and they’re harder to get through, giving yourself more time to respond. See how long this takes?
15:41 What about home defense alarm systems?
·Modern alarm systems have greatly advanced with greater reliability and fewer false alarms. Economic alarm systems exist that monitor for fire, carbon monoxide, and home invasion. And when something bad happens, the system calls the authorities. Some alarm systems are internet-based and others are land-line based, and a lot of them have redundancies. Check out the options to make sure you get a reliable system.
I have investigated hundreds and hundreds of burglaries in my career. I’ve only been to one house that was burglarized that had an alarm system. Thats a clue.
A properly installed alarm system is one of my #1 go-to’s for a home defense system.
19:29 Should you install cameras?
·Some of the cameras currently available are highly advanced. There aren’t false alarms, prices are falling, and they allow you to monitor your home from your phone. They can even notify you when motion is detected at the door.
In my opinion, in the next ten years, camera systems are going to replace alarm systems.
Since I’ve installed my cameras, I’ve had at least three instances at my house where things have happened that the crime was solved by me handing the sherrif that flash drive.
· A camera system can be especially helpful to elderly individuals who may have thieves stealing and/or swapping pills out of the medicine cabinet.
· It’s better to get two or three really good cameras than a cheap boxed system with more cameras. You can always add more cameras later.
23:24 Look at home security like an onion. The bad guy should have to peel back the layers of the onion to get to what you’re trying to protect.
24:38 Someone is breaking into your home. What do you do?
· If you’re in the home, get the family together in one place. Have a pre-set, rehearsed, meeting place that everyone goes to in the case of an emergency.
· Resist the urge to go investigate. You have the advantage if the intruder doesn’t know where you are. If you encounter the intruder during your investigation, “…the risk associated with that is insane.” Also, if you’re the one responsible for protecting the family and you lose the fight while you’re away from them, you’ve left them vulnerable. Everyone should retreat to one room, with one door to watch.
· Once everyone is safely together, call out a warning: “Hey, get out of my house. I have a gun and I called the police.”
Most invasions are property crimes. Most invaders, once they know someone is in the home, will run away. The last thing you should want is a gunfight in your house. If they don’t run away, now you know what you’re dealing with — you’re about to fight.
· Some people worry that it’s not good to let the bad guy know where you are. But by calling out the warning, you’re reducing some of the odds for violence. Statistically speaking, the most violent time in a burglary is when the burgler discovers an occupant unexpectedly. However, the intruder isn’t just there to steal property, but has a vendetta against you — he probably already knows where you are.
·If you are away from your home and return to find that an intruder is inside, is it appropriate to clear your house? Know your state laws. In some states, you have to be able to articulate the need to clear the house because a family member was in side. If nobody is in the house during an invasion, it’s a property crime, and not worth risking physically or legally.
· Make it a habit to carry your gun, even in your home. The gun in your bedroom doesn’t do you any good if you’re sitting in your living room and the door blasts open.
36:00 What do you do if you called out the warning and they don’t leave? Now you’re in total lock-down defense mode.
·Your job is to guard the threshold where you and your family are with all that you have. Wait for them to approach you, because you have the advantage.
· Call the authorities. Calling the police department for your jurisdiction will get you faster results than calling 911. Tell them what’s going on, that you’re armed, and where you are in the home. A dispatcher should stay on the line with you and once the officers get there the dispatcher should help de-conflict the link-up so you don’t shoot them and they don’t shoot you.
37:48 What if the intruder comes through the door toward you and your family?
· You should already understand your state laws. Does your state have the castle doctrine in place? (Castle doctrine alleviates the need to prove that the intruder possessed a weapon that could inflict serious harm, that they have a delivery system for that weapon, and you do not have a duty to retreat. You have to be able to prove that the intruder had an ill intent toward your family and that you were afraid enough to use force. It’s very easy to prove the ill intent if you called out the warning.)
·Protect your family by whatever means necessary.
39:52 What happens when the police arrive?
· Remain in your location. If the police are unable to find a point of entry, and you remain convinced that an intruder is in your home, the police will have to get in somehow. This leaves two options for them to get in: they may have to kick your door in, or you’ll have to go let them in, which can obviously compromise your safety. You can avoid this situation by keeping a spare housekey in the room you’ve designated as your family’s saferoom. If the police need to enter, you can toss the key to them. Attach a chemlight to it so it doesn’t get lost in the dark when you toss it. The officers will be able to enter and when everything is over, you’ll still be able to lock your house.
·If you get disconnected from the dispatcher, open the window, let the officers know where you are, and let them come to you.
·Once you know that the police are on the scene, and they get to that bedroom door and knock on it, the guns should have been long put away. You don’t want to be pointing a gun at a police officer, nor do the officers want guns pointed at them.