Burglary Prevention

15 Jan

In the book, The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning, I write quite a bit about hardening your home against intruders and burglary prevention.

When burglars case a home, their main goal is to find out whether or not you’re home. Most burglars don’t want to break into a home with people in it. When criminals knowingly enter a home with people at home, it’s called a home invasion. Those criminals are particularly dangerous, because they aren’t trying to avoid a confrontation.

When we’re away from home, we want burglars to think we’re at home. They’ll choose another house to rob. Denying them information about whether or not we’re home is important. Information Denial is one key to maintaining security.

This fact was hammered home when I was looking at some footprints in the snow of some burglars who had cased a house, but had been unsuccessful in robbing it. One set of footprints stood right in front of the garage window. The garage was unattached. They looked in to see what goodies were present or to see if a vehicle was there. A lack of vehicles about a home could make burglars think nobody is home.

If you live on a street where few cars are parked and you keep your own vehicles in the garage, give some thought to purchasing blinds or drapes for your garage windows. Can a burglar see your cars inside your garage? How could a burglar casing your house know whether or not you’re at home? Look for telltale signs you inadvertently give away.

While we’re talking about garages, many burglars like your tools. Either to steal or to use to break into your own home. Family Handyman has a nice article about protecting your garage from intruders.

More tips on avoiding break ins.

Usaonwatch.org has a nice pdf about home security, which emphasizes the key goals of: deter, detect, delay. You want to deter burglars from targeting your home. You want to detect them as soon as possible. The quicker they’re detected, the less chance they have to succeed. You want to delay them. The more time it takes them to get into your house, the more likely they’ll leave and attack an easier target or someone will discover them.

Jim Cobb, author of Prepper’s Home Defense (SurvivalWeekly.com), wisely adds “defend” to the motto. If your security is breached, you must fight or flee, if you happen to be at home.

I’ve heard some fellows add another “d” to the motto: decapitate. It sounds bad-a** but is a bad idea. Under normal circumstances, you really want to avoid confrontations, and you shouldn’t seek to hurt a burglar, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Information denial can sometimes work the wrong way. If you’re an old codger taking a nap at noon and you wake up to use the bathroom and discover three gents trying to beat down your door, it can be a big surprise to everybody involved.

They probably followed the proper burglar etiquette of knocking on the front door to see if anybody answered. They probably knocked loudly next. They knocked on the backdoor. They didn’t see activity in the home. Lights were largely off, to save electricity. Just when they’re completely convinced nobody is home, you pop up at the window. Surprise! Somebody is home.

Even if you don’t want to invest in a home alarm system, purchasing a cheap door alarm  can alert you to the most common break-in attempt, kicking in a backdoor. A barking dog is another option.

Don’t feel bad if you don’t answer your door though. Many people, including police officers, don’t. That’s just one of the risks burglars must take! Most burglaries occur during daytime hours in middle class neighborhoods because people are away at their day jobs.

If you do have an alarm system, it might have a “panic” button, designed to set off your alarm manually. You can use that to your advantage if burglars are casing your house, while you’re inside watching them. Somebody knocks on your door. You ignore it. They’re probably trying to sell you something, convert you into something, or get you to sign something. Any which way, you don’t need it.

The guy comes back and knocks again. He has buddies with him, peeking into your windows. Well, this isn’t good, you think. Maybe you dial the police to let them know what’s up. If you don’t want to test the integrity of your door, just when one prepares to kick the door, you hit the alarm button.

Waiting until the last minute had both a downside and an upside. On the upside, it gave the police maximum time to respond. On the downside, the burglars had more time to case the house and learn more about it for a possible future attempt. Unless they’ve tried to break the door down, they might not have broken the law either. There is a chance they’re in possession of drugs, have outstanding warrants, or are in possession of other stolen property which could lead to a direct arrest. Police can see what they look like.

The other option is showing yourself at the last moment, if you’re a fairly strong-looking guy. The burglars will probably be in a hurry to get away at this point. You shouldn’t open the door, there might be several other burglars with them.

What if you’re facing a home invasion and are told to turn off a sounding alarm? Does your alarm system have a duress code?  That’s a special code like a silent alarm used by banks. While it disables the audible alarm at the home, it sends a message to your security company or to the police. You’re turning off the alarm under duress.

Cobb and many military guys like silent alarms. These alarms alert you to an attempt to breach your security. It gives you time to respond, without letting the adversary know that you know about their presence. If you’re trying to survive under harsh social conditions, where the attackers are likely to continue attacking, a loud alarm offers little advantage. Police aren’t available. The intruders might not be scared off. You want to retain the element of surprise for your counterattack. Under normal social conditions, a loud alarm can alert neighbors, police, or scare away an intruder.

I wouldn’t recommend this for most people, but if you had problems with repeat burglaries and are desperate to put and end to them, you could wait until the burglars had breached your door before responding. You’d want to be armed. The idea would be to hold them at gunpoint until the police arrived, after they had broken into your home. In some states, this, technically, wouldn’t be a viable legal option: You’re legally required to flee your own home rather than confront intruders inside of it.

Once criminals have entered your home, your scope of operations is greater. If necessary, you could use lethal force with less risk of legal prosecution. This doesn’t mean there aren’t risks: you could get sued by a burglar or even charged with a crime.

There is an issue of “premeditation” if things go horribly wrong and you’re forced to shoot. Premeditation means you thought through the sequence of events in your brain before you were forced to act. It sounds dangerously close to prepping! I’ve read that in England keeping a bat near your bed could be deemed “premeditation” of intent to hurt a burglar!

Well, this post has gotten a lot longer than I planned. I hope some of the advice will be helpful to you. And, remember, be alert and pay attention for your neighbors too. The burglar that successfully strikes them today might come after you tomorrow.

Charlie Palmer -author of The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning

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With the school shooting, some say America should emulate Australia and “buy back” all military style weapons in the country. Although a great country, Australia is by no means perfect, it has one of the world’s highest burglary rates (nearly 3% a year).

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