Many of us have been required to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Others have been at home because they were furloughed or let go. Though I work full time as a criminal justice professor, most educators are not allowed on campus this summer except in the most extreme circumstances. So I am in the same boat as many of you.

But many others are going back to work. That means a new or increased attention to “away” home security needs to be established.

Did Complacency Set In?

I am not saying you have become complacent in your personal safety habits. If anything, you have likely been at your highest state of awareness for two months. First, it was fear of what people might do if the virus turned out to be as bad as predicted. For a short period, there was enough panic-buying and near riotous behavior in stores over the last roll of toilet paper to cause concern.

Then, as things were moving toward normal in several states, a rash of rioting occurred, lasting several days all across America. Some businesses were looted and destroyed. I know for me, being out of my normal work routine has made it difficult to even keep track of the day of the week. This means I may also be vulnerable to mistakes in my home-security precautions.

Make a List, Check it Twice

Having a defense checklist is more important in these unpredictable times. Having everything in order and organized is absolutely essential. Below is the checklist I suggest. Adapt it to meet your personal needs and lifestyle.

  1. Alarm set? If you don’t have a burglar alarm, get one. When I wrote about alarm systems sometime back, I recommended not to get an outdoor alarm speaker so as not to alert your neighbors. My perspective on this has changed. I want to make as much noise as possible when I’m not home. Even if the police don’t respond, you can. All modern alarm systems send an alert to your smartphone, followed up by a phone call from the company.
  2. Is your gun safe or lock box secured? Gun safes and lock boxes should be fire-resistant. You don’t want to lose your main battery to burglary or fire while you are gone. If you have been keeping a long gun at the ready at night, make sure it is secured in the morning.
  3. Is your “get home” gun in your vehicle? An AR-15 pistol in .300 Blackout is ideal in this role. The gun should have a bolted-down locking device in your vehicle if you keep it there during working hours.
  4. Are all doors and windows locked? I highly recommend the Door Bull locking system for reinforcing your front door against kick-in attempts.
  5. Are your staging lights or TV on to make it look like someone is there?

In addition to having a checklist, you should develop a good relationship with your neighbors if possible. Form your own neighborhood watch with those you trust who can call you when you are away if things don’t look right. One of the things I have noticed through both the virus and riots is that neighbors seem to be working better together — a real silver lining. Hopefully helping your neighbor is one thing that remains when we return to normal.

About Scott W. Wagner

After working undercover in narcotics and liquor investigations, Scott W. Wagner settled down to be a criminal justice professor and police academy commander. He was also a SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader before his current position as patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. Scott is a police firearms instructor certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.