A Home Invasion is a term used in the United States to describe illegal and usually forced entry to an occupied private dwelling with violent intent to commit a crime against the occupants. The crimes committed could be robbery, assault, rape, murder or kidnapping.
Some may ask, is a home invasion the same as a burglary? The answer is NO! A home invasion differs due to the fact that the perpetrators have a violent intent apart from theft alone. It is a crime that involves multiple perpetrators forcing entry into a home, use of weapons and physical intimidation, property theft and victims who are unknown to the perpetrators. A burglary is usually committed when no one is home, either on vacation or at work for the purpose of stealing property.
Preparing for your daughter’s wedding, your retirement, your children’s future are important priorities in your life. Being prepared to defend your family in your home should also be a priority. How do we prepare for something that “only happens to others”? How do you overcome the fear of such a thing happening to you and your family? Where do you start? You need a plan.
To be successful in anything in life you need to start out with a good plan. A good plan starts with a complete security inventory of your home, both inside and out. In this circumstance let’s start with the outside of your home.
Step outside in the evening and take a look at your home. There are a few things you need to look at. Do you have good security lighting around the exterior? Lighting for the outside of the home can either be left continuously on or placed on a motion detector. How is the shrubbery around your home? Are the shrubs and trees trimmed to prevent hiding places? Without trying, can you clearly see inside your home and your family activity while standing outside? If you can, so can the perpetrator. These issues for the outside of the home can be taken care of fairly easily and in a short period of time over a weekend.
Once you have completed the outside security inventory you need to do the same for the inside of your home.
Check your doors and windows, these are points of entry and exit. How secure are the windows? Do they lock and how good are the locks? Take a look at your doors. The doors that give you access to the outside also give the bad guy access to the inside. Which way do these doors open? A door that opens to the outside is hard to kick in, it would have to be pried open which takes more time and perpetrators are usually not prepared for that. Door locks are very important. Not just a door knob lock, but also a quality dead bolt.
A monitored alarm system that uses a siren and immediately contacts the police is very useful and all homes should have one.
Window shades or blinds are a good deterrent for the person on the outside who wants to look in and see you. These should be pulled down at certain times of the evening.
Once you have completed the exterior and interior security inventory of your home you need to have a meeting with your family members or people who live with you in your residence to develop a plan of action. The meaning of a plan of action is what to do if and when you are a victim of a home invasion. This plan of action should be taken seriously and with everyone in the household having a role.
If you are not already, you need to become a responsible firearm owner and receive professional training with whatever firearm you choose to use in your home defense plan. You must not only be physically prepared to use your chosen firearm but also mentally prepared. You need to train consistently and know the laws of self-defense in your state. Knowledge is power! Know the law and know your rights.
How well do you know the lay out of your home? We walk throughout our home every day. We can get from the living room to the kitchen easily. But, we are not under pressure or scared out of our minds. A good drill for you and your family is to walk through your home blindfolded. Have a family member blindfold you, give you a destination and then walk with you until you complete the journey. Do this drill until everyone is comfortable and able to do it with ease and speed. Do the same drill at night with the lights off.
If you don’t have a built in “safe room” in your home then you need to designate a room or rooms in the home to be the safe room. This will be the room where family members are able to quickly assemble to during the time of a break-in, and a firearm is readily accessible. Home invasions usually take place at night or in the early morning hours when people are sleeping. But keep in mind that they can happen at any time. A good example of a safe room is a bedroom with a walk-in closet. The walk-in closet is where your family would be as you defend from the bedroom behind hard cover. In this safe room you should have a closet large enough to fit your family. Those inside this closet should have a designated leader and a charged cell phone to immediately contact the police.
When I teach this at my school I stress that no one should leave the safe room and go out into the home looking for the perpetrator(s). No matter how large or small your home may be there may always be more than one perpetrator. Defend from your point of hard cover; as it is always the best bet.
While defending from your position, your designee should be making contact with the police with their cell phone. A full description of what is going on will be needed for the police. Police Dispatchers are trained to ask the correct questions. Since you are the defender and armed with a firearm it is very important that your designee give your description to the police dispatcher and advise them that you are armed so they know you are a good guy.
One important thing you need to know is that most police departments have a standard operating procedure that tells them that they must go directly into a building, home, etc., when an occupied residential burglary or home invasion is actively taking place. This is done for the safety and well-being of the occupants not the perpetrators. It is very important that your designee, who is on the phone with the police dispatcher when the police arrive, stays on the phone with the dispatcher until everyone is safe and the scene is secured.
Remember, putting a good plan together with your family or people who live in the residence with you is important. Practice the plan, work through it and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Everyone’s home is different. The size, amount of rooms, single floor or two floors, some even have three floors, down to small apartments. Get tactical and make it work for you and the structure you live in.
Don’t work on this only once and forget about it. Have a family training time often so you are fully prepared. Remember, your response reflects back to your lowest level of training.
Train Hard, Stay Safe!
Sgt John Riddle – City of West Palm Beach Police Department
Progressive Self Defense Systems