Home Invasion - Some Thoughts

Someone looking to invade an occupied home is not likely to spend a lot of time breaking in. They will kick in a door or use  a breaching tool of some sort, or crash a window or sliding glass door. But in the reports I’ve read about break-ins in my surrounding areas, most of these things are done via the front door.

I was thinking about the heavy security “screen doors”. They will slow down some, but with the right fireman’s breeching tool, they can be quickly pried off the frame.

Any home can be broken into. Occupied homes are dangerous to invade unless the intruders are fast and armed. How does a home owner counter the speed and viscousness of a home invader?

The home owner needs time to react. Criminals don’t announce their intent to invade. If one of them slams the door at 2 AM, it will be difficult for the home owner to wake up, orient himself, ID the threat, chose a course of action and respond – all with sleep in his eyes and stiffness in his joints. He needs time.

With some creativity, he can buy time. I was looking at a friend’s stairway and upper level layout. For anyone to get upstairs and to the master bedroom, he would have to make most of the passage via the narrow stairwell and upper hallway. Somewhere in that hallway, one of these security doors could be installed. Imagine the invader’s displeasure as he races up the stairs to wind up eating steel mesh. The front door’s failure signaled his entrance. The owner is awakened. Mr bad guy pound up the stairs, while the owner reaches for his shotgun. By the time the bad guy is trying to decide what to do, the shotgun is on target.

This simplistic description illustrates how an unexpected delay for the bad guy creates opportunity for the good guy. How else could he create a pocket of time for himself? A secured courtyard out front wired to an alarm. How about a perimeter alarm for the front and back yards? Tie the alarms in to a camera system accessible via an instant-on monitoring device such as an iPad or CCT TV? (I like the iPad because it’s on “right now” and it is portable….)  Perhaps a powerful light at the top of the stairs that blasts the front door with brilliance as the bad guy enters? A strobe to hack his vision? He would need to defeat the light to even get close enough to the security door.

To secure your house long enough to allow you to exercise your right to self defense, the points of entry need to be hardened. Here are some examples and ideas.

  • Front door. Dead bolt it into the house frame. Dead bolts need a 1″ minimum throw. Door frame anchored to house frame with 4″ #10 screws. Be sure there are shims between the dor frame and the house frame to prevent spreading the latch out of the striker with a frame jack. Dead bolt double keyed, with the inside key located nearby in case of fire. Hinge side anchored to frame with pins.  If the home has a porch, gate it off with wrought iron side-to-side and roof to slab.
  • Other doors.  Replace side doors with steel clad doors. Anchor with lots of #10 screws. Inner garage doors should be strong 30 or 45 minutes solid core fire doors with dead bolt and locking handle. Security screen doors will buy some time on these. Use overkill on mounting bolts. Drill extra holes in the frame if need be.
  • Windows. 8 mil impact plastic overlays. The hold the glass together and prevent most attempts at getting in, They also make lots of noise. That’s warning time. (Do upstairs windows, too.
  • Sliding glass doors. Upper track blocked to prevent the door from being raised out of its track. Lower track blocked with a rod or bolt to prevent sliding it back in the cheap latch is defeated. Pin the door to solidly to locate it in place when secured. Impact plastic applied to it, too.
  • Install motion activated lights in no-man’s land. Light up dark and out of the way corners with these lights. Tie them into your alarm system if you have one.
  • Rig flood lights into your inner passageways. Tie them to your alarm.
  • Power your electronic security and lights to a suitable battery back up system to enable continued operation if power is cut.
  • Wire each point of entry into your alarm so that attempts to get in will never go unnoticed.

Your master bedroom should be thought of as a safe room. Keep alarm and video controls in there with you. Also keep your defensive implements, First-Aid and phone communications there. You will want to contact help in such emergencies. There isn’t much you can do about the rest of the house from the interior of your room. Other bed rooms and their occupants would  need their own hardening (stronger doors, locks and windows), and hard-wired communication with your room.

As the economy worsens, currently safe neighborhoods will see home invasions. News stories relate how residents are shocked that such tings could happen in their peaceful communities. Well, opportunity knocks for the bad guys, too. Only they answer by knocking on our doors with battering rams.

You increase your chance of being able to react to a home invasion by denying the bad guy quick entry. Htrow in some surprises for him, and he’s at your mercy. It might matter little if there are more than one. Most home are collections of natural choke points. If you build in your little treats in a way that forces the bad guys into the choke points, you will have increased your chances for survival.

 

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