Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
Your home is your castle, but what use is a castle without guards or a gate?
A home invasion can refer to a wide array of events, but what they all have in common is that the incident is taking place on your territory. When someone comes into your home with the intent of stealing from you or doing harm, you must act.
You should never leave the outcome of an incident in the hands of the perpetrator. With proper preparation, understanding, and training, you should be able to use your home field advantage to take control of a situation and successfully defend yourself, your property, and your family.
To this end, we put together this article to give you the knowledge you need to begin preparing your home security and defense properly. We will start with some basic crime stats on home invasions and how these incidents go down.
Afterward, we will discuss the training and tactics used by combat professionals. By the end, the groundwork should be laid for you to begin to pursue more in-depth knowledge of home invasion defense and further your training.
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Home Invasion Statistics
Before we even get into what you should do during a home invasion, it is essential to make sure we understand the reality of these types of situations.
These are some of the most surprising and insightful facts on home invasions contained within a 2010 special report by the U.S. Department of Justice, a study by the University of North Carolina Charlotte on the habits and motivations of burglars, and FBI data from 2015 Crime Statistics on Burglary. (Home invasion stats are broken up between burglaries and violent assaults and are not a statistic within themselves.)
- 25% of home invasions occurred when a household member was home.
- 38% of victims were asleep at the time of the burglary.
- 61% of offenders were unarmed when they committed violent attacks.
- 12% of home invasion offenders were armed with a firearm.
- 2-5% of homes are burglarized a year.
- 60% of burglars said they would seek an alternative target if there were an alarm on-site.
- The top reasons for committing burglaries were related to buying drugs (51%) or money (37%), usually to support drug habits.
- Most burglars forced windows or doors open. One in eight burglars reported picking locks or using a key that they had previously acquired.
- 12% planned the burglary in advance, 41% suggested it was often a “spur of the moment” event.
Looking at these numbers, it is clear that most of these crimes are committed by drug users with little tactical experience, and are often unarmed. Regardless, there is no shortage of examples of these incidents still ending incredibly violently.
How to Prepare for a Home Invasion
While every home and situation will be unique, there are some general steps that we can all take to protect our residences.
Here is a summary of the 5 steps we will discuss:
1. Harden the Exterior
Invest in lights, cameras, and alarm systems to both dissuade home invaders and allow you an early warning system. Non-electrical or digital means are more complicated but still possible.
2. Prepare the Entry Points
Ensure you have solid doors. Ensure doors and windows have upgraded locks. Reinforce the doors against kicks, and the windows against shattering.
3. Prepare the Home Interior
Have weapons and tools ready and on hand within your home. Secondary locks and rooms are good to plan out.
4. Learn to Use the Weapons at Your Disposal (within your home)
Train with your weapons, and understand how to use them in your home.
5. Plan an Escape Route
Alright, let’s get into how to defend your home from a home invasion.
1. Harden the Exterior
One of the first things you learn working in security is that if you are doing your job correctly, you’ll never know when you’ve prevented an attack. The best security is the kind that completely dissuades an attacker from even making an attempt. Most burglars, or those looking to victimize you, are not usually wanting to take on a ‘hard target’ unless they are incredibly desperate.
You should have a mixture of non-obvious and obvious security measures in place. From the street, you want it to be clear that anyone on your property will be on camera, and perhaps that you own a dog and firearm. These three factors alone will stop 99% of criminals looking for a random score. This is the reason many alarm companies put that little sign in the front yard (in addition to the advertising).
It is worth noting here that when SHTF, and people become more desperate, you may find that stating how you intend to defend yourself could be a tactical error. You will have to balance the psychological effect of being a hard target, with the ability to utilize unforeseen capabilities. This is up to your personal preference and your home.
(Professional services will highlight many key areas.)
Keeping your exterior well lit is useful in both deterring criminals and giving you the ability to see and identify trespassers. You don’t want to give those outside your home the benefit of concealment.
An alarm system is also an obvious safety measure to add to your home exterior. Many of the new networks can link up with your smart devices and camera systems to give you a vast array of capabilities.
In a study by the University of North Carolina Charlotte on the habits and motivations of burglars, it was stated that most burglars considered the proximity of other people “including traffic, people in the house or business … the lack of escape routes; and signs of increased security – including alarm signs, alarms, dogs inside, and outdoor cameras or other surveillance equipment” when selecting a good target.
Roughly 83% of criminals said they look for an alarm before attempting a burglary. 60% percent said they would seek an alternative destination if there were an alarm on-site
If you are prepping for a situation where the electrical grid or cell phone service is not available, these electrical and digital security options will be less viable. Investing in some oil lanterns to keep the exterior well lit may be your next best option, but may also single your house out during a power failure. You will have to use your judgment in those sorts of cases.
In addition to signs, alarms, cameras, and lights, there are a plethora of natural additions you can add to the exterior of your home. For example, rose bushes or other clingy and/or noisy plants for home security are great for planting underneath windows or other access points.
Pay attention to the materials, surfaces, windows, and doorways any intruder will have to walk in or around to get into your home.
2. Prepare the Entry Points
The first thing you should do once you start working on the defense of the home itself is to check the integrity of the doors and windows.
Are the doors able to resist a kick? Can they be taken directly off the hinges from the outside? Are your locking mechanisms of a decent quality? If not, you should reinforce your doors immediately.
How many windows are easily accessible to the outside? If I have a TV on, will I honestly hear someone carefully break the glass?
Think about these sorts of things and put yourself in the mind of someone breaking in. Honestly try and see how hard it was for you to get into your own home. This is the sort of training and visualization you need to do if you take your home’s security seriously.
Reinforce the jamb, hinges, etc. of your exterior passageways to thwart the most common forms of break-ins. I shouldn’t have to say this, but make sure they all have locks. Most common household locks are effortless for criminals to bypass. Invest in some higher grade locks and anti-kick door protectors.
Make an effort to dissuade break-ins from occurring at hard-to-guard windows. Bars are ugly and a fire hazard, but there is a reason you see them in so many areas with crime problems. Alternatively, there are secondary locking mechanisms, anti-break films, and other more advanced window security measures available today.
3. Prepare the Interior of Your Home
While it is easy to make some Home Alone jokes here, the reality isn’t too far off. I’m not saying swing paint cans down the stairwell, but I am saying that understanding the layout and natural advantages and disadvantages your home offers may allow you to funnel and ambush an intruder on your own terms. We will talk more about this and ‘fatal funnels’ as it pertains to in-home weapons usage in the next section.
If everything else fails, stashing weapons and tools (like phones, knives or handcuff keys) or other useful items in areas you are likely to be detained is also a smart move. If you or your family is held at gunpoint and brought to a room, you want to give yourself options. Often these will be the back rooms or rooms without windows. Have items in every room that you could use to thwart an attack or free yourself from bindings. Please be mindful of children and put weapons somewhere out of their reach.
Prepare a secondary fall back line, like an interior room, that you can lock and secure your family in should your home be breached. Ensure that room is easily defended and supplied and has outside communication abilities. Safe rooms are built into expensive mansion and celebrity homes for these reasons.
Owning a dog is a also a great addition to your security lineup. Most friendly pups aren’t going to be much good in a fight, but they make for great early warning systems. Many criminals simply won’t break into homes once they hear a dog start barking.
4. Learn Your Weapons
Your brain is your best weapon. Train yourself to overcome different threats like restraints and to use various blades and firearms. Krav Maga, U.S. Marine Corp MCMAP, Jeet Kune Do, Kali, and other martial arts all deal with fighting with bladed weapons, sticks and weapons of opportunity (fire pokers, pool cues, etc.) While a firearm will, of course, be your primary weapon, you never know under what circumstances a life or death struggle will occur.
I recall one story where a man broke into another’s home while wielding an AR-15. The homeowner was able to grab the barrel of the gun and put his fingers into the criminal’s eye sockets. He disarmed the man and kept his hands there until the police arrived.
Make sure you train with your weapon. For firearms, you must practice reloads, clearing gun jams, and your accuracy. You must also pressure test all of your training. If something takes you five seconds in training, it will take you an eternity in a real confrontation, that’s how you have to think about these engagements and how ready you really are.
Every home layout is different. Familiarize yourself with how you can best tactically move about your home. Clear the corners, check behind furniture, all the while not putting your weapon within reach of an adversary.
The U.S. Army Close Quarters Battle Manual goes in-depth on how to clear rooms in multiple man teams as well as how to quickly incapacitate an enemy and to detect (or make) door booby-traps.
(An example of a two-man room entry.)
CQB professionals strongly emphasize that room clearing should be done with at least two people (two is one, one is none), but in your home you will likely be clearing rooms on your own. Luckily, you will have the advantage of knowing the layout of your home forward and back. Single person room clearing requires you to “slice the pie” in a doorway. You ‘slice the pie’ by angling across a doorway in sections (or slices) so you can clear a room while exposing as little of yourself as possible.
The Fatal Funnels
Doorways, stairways, and any other choke point in a building are referred to as fatal funnels. This is because the majority of casualties happen in these areas. Defenders of a room know you have to enter through the doorway and thus will often shoot intruders as they enter the room (or climb up the stairs).
If you are attempting to breach a room, you must clear and get through the fatal funnels as quickly as possible. If you are defending a room or your home, you will want to take advantage of these hard points. Put obstructions in the way to slow them down, and lay heavy covering fire into the area once they try and breach it. You may put some holes in your drywall*, but at least you’ll still be breathing.
*Remember most weapons will punch right through your home’s walls. Plan accordingly and use this to your advantage.
5. Plan an Escape
As stated in the step 3, the preparation of a safe room is a good idea. You shouldn’t care about preserving a few belongings when your family is at stake (especially if you have cameras that may have caught their faces for later prosecution anyways). Evacuation and avoidance will always be your best bet for preserving you and your loved one’s life.
If your home isn’t big enough, or the layout doesn’t allow for a safe room, plan an evacuation route and a secondary meet-up position for you, your roommates, or family. Stash a cell phone at that point so whoever reaches it can call the police.
These plans should involve trusted neighbors if that option is available to you.
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