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Spring Training Challenge Week 3: Home Security

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Monday, April 20: Make Your Home a Less Appealing Target

*Excerpt from “Reducing Criminal Curb Appeal” by Scott W. Wagner

There are three main things about a home that enhance curb appeal to an intruder. First, is the target worth the risk? Does it appear that the house has a high likelihood of desired property, outweighing the risk of apprehension? Second, would entry take minimal effort? Is there good cover, such as immense greenery that would conceal entry through a window? And third, is there an “absence of capable guardians” on the property who can thwart the attempt to enter?

Steps to Take

  1. “Desired property” is sometimes the hardest to reduce. After all, if you live in a nice home and drive expensive cars, it’s sort of hard to disguise that you are well-to-do. The most opulent homes are rarely broken into. It is middle-class to upper-middle-class homes that make primary theft targets. Don’t advertise your possessions. If there is a larger-than-necessary TV or fancy computer displayed in the window, you’re asking for trouble. Don’t advertise you are a gun owner. Lose the “trespassers will be shot — survivors will be shot again” kind of signs. They not only advertise you have guns but also make great fodder for a defense attorney later on.
  2. As a police officer, I still encounter homes that have their front doors secured solely with a doorknob lock — no deadbolt in sight. And in small towns, some folks still leave their doors unlocked. That just begs outsiders to come in. Consider doing some crime prevention through environmental design. Improve your locks, increase exterior lighting and remove shrubs that provide cover at windows (replace them with smaller, thornier bushes).
  3. A “capable guardian” can be many things. For several years, three large dogs were our capable guardians. No dogs? Get an alarm system. Think of this: You are a burglar who is deciding on which of two equally appealing homes to break into. One house has a sign from an alarm company, and the other doesn’t. Which house would you break into?

Tuesday, April 21: Fortify Points of Entry

*Excerpt from “4 Holiday Home-Security Tips” by Scott W. Wagner

The physical security of doors and windows should be step one in any home-defense plan. Do all of your standard opening doors at least have deadbolts? Doorknob locks and chain locks are not adequate.

Chain locks can be popped with relatively little effort using a palm strike or kick (been there, done that). A deadbolt is better but may not stop a determined attacker on its own. If the door frame isn’t steel or reinforced, it can be defeated by repeated heavy kicks. The deadbolt itself will hold, but the door frame won’t (been there, done that too).

After researching the best means of door protection, I actually upgraded my own home security. I just ordered a door barricade system called the Door Bull. Designed by three cops who were frustrated by deadbolt-equipped doors failing under criminal attack, the Door Bull is an ingenious, compact and simple barricade system that attaches to the door and frame. It spreads the force directed against it over a wide portion of the frame, helping to keep it intact.

Rather than my trying to describe it, go to the website and watch the video. The price of the Door Bull on the website is $99. All mounting hardware (and even a properly sized drill bit) is included. It looks like a big improvement over a barricade bar and is easily applied and removed, in case you need to exit in a hurry. The Door Bull appears to solve the main weakness of the deadbolt: a wood frame.

Wednesday, April 22: Make a Plan

*Excerpt from “Creating a Home-Security Plan” by Scott W. Wagner

Your home-security plan needs to be able to flow as situations change. It must also be workable for your particular abode. We can NEVER predict the actions of another human being. Situational changes may cause you to deviate from your original plan in real time. Sure, you have YOUR plan, but the criminal doesn’t often agree to go along. Make your plan fluid and be prepared to go off-script. Your home-safety plan should also include less-lethal options such as a Taser, OC or an impact device. Not every threat to your safety is a lethal-force threat, at least at the outset.

Get Everyone on Board

One of the worst mistakes is to not involve other capable family members in developing the plan. While you may have the expertise, you can’t think of everything. Other family members are the end users, so they should get a say. They need to be fully aware of the plan, help craft the plan and believe in its ability to keep everyone safe.

Be Prepared for Natural Disasters Too 

During a recent tornado warning, I grabbed an AR-15 and several mags and brought them to the basement with us. If you live in an area prone to natural disasters and plan to shelter in place, make sure your shelter area includes access to defensive rifles or shotguns. Be sure you maintain an emergency food and water supply. You can never know the extent of your stay, the damage in the aftermath or to what lengths others will be willing to go.

Thursday, April 23: Choose the Right Gear

*Excerpt from “How to Choose a Home-Defense Gun” by Scott W. Wagner

When choosing your home-defense gun, remember the old real-estate adage: “Location, location, location.” Where you live will determine which type of firearm and caliber is apt to work best. If you live in a multi-family unit — with shared walls, floor or roof — your own personal safety is not the only concern. You must also consider the safety of your neighbors and the gunfire you could unintentionally be sending in their direction. While you certainly have the right to defend your home against intruders, you also have the responsibility to not injure your neighbors.

What about a long gun? With shotguns and rifles, space can become a concern, as neither is ideal for maneuvering in tight areas. A shotgun can make a great option. The “spray” of pellets makes a miss less likely. And a rifle, though over-penetration is again a concern, makes for great defense in more rural areas, where four-legged threats can often be a consideration.

Gear Availability

*Excerpt from “The 6 Essential Parts of a Home-Defense Plan” by Tom McHale

Home-defense gear shouldn’t be limited to just a firearm. Equally important is a means of communication, preferably a charged cellphone so you can take it with you. Get in the habit of keeping your phone on a charger on your nightstand so that it’s readily available in the event of a fire or breaking-and-entering emergency. Also, make sure you keep a quality hand-held flashlight right next to it. That’s a great tool to have for any nighttime surprise, whether or not it’s a criminal encounter. Likewise, make sure your firearm is accessible either near where you sleep or in between your bed and the safe space you’ve identified.

Friday, April 24: Practice Your Plan

Excerpt from “The 6 Essential Parts of a Home-Defense Plan” by Tom McHale

Nothing works without practice, so as awkward as it might feel, be sure to not only communicate your home-defense plan but also physically run through it. It’s also worthwhile to walk around your home in the dark to learn how to navigate without tripping over the furniture. While you’re doing this, take note of nooks, corners and hiding places you might use to keep out of sight while making your way to a safe room, out of the home or to join your children.

Home-defense strategies can fill a book, so we’ve only raised some basic ideas and questions here. Be sure to invest some time thinking like an intruder so you can develop a series of meaningful response plans. If you were going to break into your house, where would you do it? Once inside, where would you go first? How much time would that take? If you know any local police officers, get their input too. The key is to think and plan ahead of time while being as realistic as possible about the process.

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