In previous posts we looked at the nuts and bolts of hardening doors. In this post we’re going to step back and take a more theoretical look at protecting your home from burglars.
Police officers and the military like to talk about the three to five Ds. How many Ds there are depends on who you talk with. We’ll compromise and choose the number 4. The four Ds of home hardening are:
There is overlap between the Ds. A big dog barking is a strong deterrent to a burglar. His barking alerts people to somebody’s presence thus helping detect the burglar’s presence. If he takes a bite out of crime, he’ll also delay and defend.
1) Deterrence. Anything that encourages a burglar to choose another house to burgle is a deterrent. These are common deterrents:
a) Somebody is home and answers the door.
b) A barking dog inside the home.
c) Multiple strong deadbolts, indicating it might be difficult to get past the door.
d) A sign saying you have an alarm system. From the burglar’s perspective, why take a chance?
e) Video surveillance cameras. Burglars don’t want to be detected. They’re usually camera shy.
f) A lack of concealment around doors and windows. More chance of being spotted by a passerby or neighbor.
g) Lights inside the house or a TV on indicating that somebody might be home.
h) Vehicles parked in the driveway, indicating somebody might be home.
Deterrence is the best because in the end it means you’re home won’t be targeted. There are more subtle ways to deter a burglar. A fenced in backyard asserts territorial rights. It sends a message that strangers should knock at the front. Somebody in the fenced in yard is more suspicious.
2) Detecting. The idea is that burglars want to get in and out and not be seen or heard. Anything that alerts others to their presence increases the chances of arrest. These are some common ways of detecting a burglar:
a) A barking dog inside the home.
b) An alarm that sounds loudly when they enter the house.
c) An alarm system that contacts the police or the home’s owner if the shell of the home is breached.
d) The sound of breaking glass.
f) A lack of concealment around doors and windows.
g) Strong hardened doors which force the burglar to take more time to get in. Time is a burglar’s enemy. The more time it takes, the more likely he’ll be caught. The more noise he must make, the more likely he’ll be caught.
The options today for early detection are immense. With a bit of know how, you can set up surveillance cameras that can be remotely monitored with your cell phone. You can set up an auto-dialer to notify you if your alarm system is tripped. If electronics is one of your hobbies, you can create your own cell phone auto-dialer to attach to your alarms.
Remote monitoring and an auto-dialer is a powerful combination. If you get the call, you can inspect what’s happening. You can notify the police with less fear of false alarms.
3) Delaying entry. To keep from getting caught, burglars want to operate fast. Anything that delays their entry into your home minimizes the chances they’ll continue trying to get in. Another D some like is Deny. A strong gun safe might completely deny a burglar access to your most precious possessions. Denying is delaying indefinitely. Here are some common ways of delaying a burglar:
a) Strong locks and a reinforced door jamb.
b) A lockable storm door before your main entry door.
c) Replacing lower level windows with glass block.
d) Installing pins to close unused double hung windows.
e) Installing a bar to keep a sliding window from sliding open.
Anything that creates uncertainty in the burglar’s mind will delay him, if not deter him. If it’s night and the shades are down, he can’t see inside. Is somebody home or not? He’ll knock longer than if he can see into the home into many rooms, seeing nobody home.
4) Defending your home. Defense. This is what many preppers focus on. If your home is under attack, how do you defend it? Your options depend on if you’re home or not! Here are some common ways of defending your home:
a) Answer the door, or not. If somebody suspicious is casing your home, knocking on doors and looking in windows, the easiest way to send them on their way is to let them know you’re home. Don’t open the door to them though. The downside: They might try again later.
Another option is not to answer the door. Watch them. If it becomes more and more clear they’re targeting your home for a break in, call the police. Delay them before showing your presence. This is only a good option if you’re armed and can defend yourself if they breach your home’s shell. Remember, one solid kick can do in many doors. The idea is to maximize the chance that this burglar gets caught and will not to target your home again.
b) Arm yourself. Get your Glock 19 or your 870 Remington and your cell phone. Call police, but be prepared to defend yourself if attacked.
c) Take up your chosen defensive position. If you have hardened doors and secured windows and an alarm, you’ll have a bit of warning before a burglar enters. One option commonly recommend is to have a safe room. The idea is that you can call the police from the safety of a reinforced room with a locked door. That sounds great in theory, but most people don’t have safe rooms.
If you don’t have a firearm or a safe room, another option is to hide. Burglars are less likely to look in an attic. Hide under a pile of laundry in the laundry room. Decide upon a clever hiding place if you go with this option.
The easiest option: If you’ve gone for your cell phone and gun, stay in that room if it’s defendable. If you’ve just awoken, do you really know where the intruders are? You don’t want to be taken by surprise. Staying in the bedroom is safest. If you have small children in other rooms, staying put might not be an option: You want to get to them to protect them.
If armed, I’d prefer to meet intruders right at the entry door. The ideal location would give you a measure of concealment and would leave the burglar exposed. The best situation: You have cover and they’d be channeled into a small area with few options. If you can confront them while they’re in an entry hall that would be great. They only can go two directions.
An entry hall with a few stairs, even better. You want to be far enough away so that they can’t physically charge you. The idea would be to trap them and hold them at gunpoint until the police arrived.
d) If you’re not home, hide your valuables so the burglar can’t find them. Burglars don’t have time to search for hidden compartments. They’ll look the usual places, focusing most attention on the bedrooms.
e) If you have the capability, remotely trigger an alarm and call the police. As I write in my book, I don’t advocate boobytraps because of the legal ramifications. In most or all jurisdictions, it’s not acceptable to injure a burglar merely to protect property.
Sorry this post has gotten so long. I hope it’s given you some new ideas to protect your home from burglars.
Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning