"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." — Patrick Henry.
With increasing unemployment and a slumping economy more and more home invasions and robberies are taking place across the nation. most of these home robberies are by stealth, but the number of violent home invasions is increasing.
Security Concepts an ADT sponsored alarm company reports:
“Home invasion is one of the most terrifying and horrific crimes that a family or individual can experience. It can often leave people traumatized for long periods after the crime occurs and can also result in a complete loss of personal sense of security. Many are left devastated by home invasions and are unable to feel safe in their own homes afterwards. It would appear that one of the main targets for this terrible and dangerous crime is people who are elderly or physically disabled. Criminals who commit home invasions often target the weak and unprepared. They often use a weapon such as a knife or other cutting instruments to intimidate or even assault their victims.
Home Invasion statistics report that the crime is on the rise. People typically think of a home invasion as a robbery or a burglary. While in most cases this is the intended crime to be committed, in several cases home invasions occurs with the intent to commit a rape, an assault or even a murder. Money and expensive belongings may be the motivation behind most break-ins, but sometimes it is a secondary intention of criminals. Because the reasons, methods and intentions of home invasions are so varied it can be difficult to define reliable statistics on the crime. According to a report by the United States Department of Justice, 38% of assaults and 60% of rapes occur in the home during an invasion.
There are some startling statistics and facts about home invasion in the United States. It is estimated that in the U.S. at least one property related crime occurs every three seconds. In the United States there were over 3,600,000 each year between 1994 and 2005. Statistics Canada reported over 289,200 per year in the last five years. Statistically there are over 8000 reported home invasions each and every day across North America. These are just the facts for the crimes which are actually defined as home invasions. There are many burglaries and thefts which occur under different circumstances which do not fall directly into that category of a home invasion for one reason or another.
Typically, criminals convicted of home invasions or property related offences indicate that they see residential homes as viable alternatives to robbing a bank or a convenience store. The reason for this is because of more and more businesses using high tech security systems on their business properties. It is becoming harder and harder for criminals to pull off robberies of business properties, leading them to target private residences instead.9 out of 10 convicted criminals who have committed home invasions have said that they would not attempt to break into a home with a home security system installed. Violent crime is on the rise in North America, and it is estimated that 1 out of every 5 homes are just as likely to experience a robbery as they are to have a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Having a home security system installed makes your home three times less likely to be targeted by burglars.”
My purpose here is not to sell home alarm systems although I have one installed in my house. The neighborhood I live in has a Neighborhood Watch and several years ago at one of our meetings with our liaison deputy with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department we were given some tips to protect our homes from criminals. So with the security of our property and lives in mind I have compiled a list of security tips from the Riverside County Sheriff and other security sites I perused.
According to the sheriff most criminals will “case” your neighborhood during daylight hours and then return at night to do their mischief this why a neighborhood watch is important. You and you neighbors should note any unfamiliar persons walking or driving slowly through your neighborhood and make a mental note of them. If you see them more than once a call to the police is in order.
Lights are another good security measure. You should light both your front and rear yard with bright lights. If you use those motion sensitive lights make sure the bulbs are not burned out and the sensors are working properly. Criminals like to work in the dark.
Make sure your neighbors look like better targets than you do. Criminals are creatures of opportunity and will, in general, pick the targets that offer the most potential reward in exchange for the least potential risk. I know this sound selfish but the meaning here is not to make your home the showcase of the block, just blend in with your neighbors.
Also, look at your house as if you were a thief. Do you have a big-screen TV, a gun case or other valuables in plain view through your windows? If so, move the items so they aren’t easily visible.
If you have an alarm system, make sure you have signs advertising the fact and use your alarm. It won’t stop a truly determined home invader, but it will give you a few seconds’ advanced warning. If you don’t have an alarm, consider getting one or at least getting alarm stickers.
While you’re looking at your house through the eyes of a thief, do you see any places where he could hide — either because of bushes or because of shadows? One of the most basic things you should do is to add lighting with motion sensors on the approaches to your house. Also, consider clearing out the bushes that provide concealment or replacing them with roses or other thorny bushes.
The next thing is to look at your doors. Do they look secure? Is the bolt lock a high-end one or the $12 special from Home Depot that lock-pickers use for practice when they first start picking locks?
How about your windows? Fragile antique windows may look great architecturally, but they are also very inviting to someone who wants to break in. If replacing old windows isn’t an option, install some inexpensive alarms, back up old locks with a piece of wood or PVC cut to size to prevent someone from opening the window from the outside and apply security film.
Perhaps most important, look at your house and the other houses in your area and see which you would try to rob first. Which would be last on your list? Is your house closer to the top of the list or the bottom of the list? You may be able to get away with having valuables visible through your windows if you have Rottweilers, German shepherds, pit bulls or other guard-type dogs in the house or in the front yard. I know that when a person approached our house my two German shepherds let us and him know. Also, if during the daylight hours a solicitor or deliver person comes to the door the shepherds are very visible and if the person has malevolent intents he will soon know the dogs are there.
If you find yourself in an urban-survival situation, you not only want to look like a bad target from the outside, you probably want to make sure you don’t look like a target to people who are inside your house.
You can accomplish this by separating and hiding as much of your survival provisions as possible so that, if need be, you can actually let people into your house to show them you don’t have much food or supplies worth stealing. This obviously isn’t an ideal scenario, but it is a realistic one when you’re dealing with hungry friends.
Historically, almost no urban-survival situation has been a “Mad Max”-type scenario. Instead, they are long-term, extremely fluid scenarios in which people are dying of starvation and struggling to get by in close proximity to healthy people who have jobs and food.
When most people think of survival, they think of a dramatic, instant, across-the-board breakdown in civilization in which people are eating one another within three to four days. Again, history proves this just doesn’t happen. One of the biggest reasons is because the majority of people will simply act like zombies and do nothing, unless they’re told to do something by an authority figure. They don’t know how to make decisions, they don’t know how to take initiative, and they sure as heck don’t know how to spend their time and resources in a way that improves their chances of surviving.
There’s no doubt that a complete breakdown is possible, but this melting pot of people in completely different phases of desperation living near each other is probable and requires a completely different approach.
In these in-between scenarios, you can reduce your risk of becoming a target by simply hiding the fact that you have supplies to steal.
This will be much harder to do with generators, solar panels, deep-cycle battery arrays and other large items, but the principle of hiding everything you can holds true.
Survival In The Country
If you have chickens, you might need to have a plan to move them inside your house if things get unstable. Again, your options are to hide them, increase deterrents or have a 24/7 watch.
If you need to protect a garden, there are a few options; but none of them are really easy. One would be adding a skylight to your garage or attic and switching over to a hydroponic or aeroponic garden.
Another would be surrounding your garden with weeds to disguise it.
A third strategy is to make sure you don’t plant things that will scream: “Food!” As an example, carrots blend in with green weeds because the orange is underground, but tomatoes stick out because the red is aboveground and visible from a considerable distance.
Keep in mind that it’s very difficult to grow enough food to provide all of the calories you need if you’re gardening part-time.
Considering the number of calories you’ll need and the amount of time it takes to maintain and protect the garden, combined with the potential shortage of water, fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides, it’s a 50/50 bet at best whether you will get enough food to survive or just end up wasting a lot of time trying. Add in vitamin, mineral and fiber requirements and you start to see how big of a challenge this really is.
If you already live off your own garden, this doesn’t apply. But if you don’t have a garden or if you are just a hobby gardener and expect to be able to flip a switch and start growing everything you need to survive while adjusting to civilization breaking down and doing something to earn money at the same time, you might want to rethink your plan.
A better approach may be to switch to medicinal herbs or native edible plants that are low-maintenance. Plant native vegetables that grow easily and have low water requirements. A bonus is that they blend in and don’t look like food to passers-by.
This brings up an important point. Even if you have chickens, a garden and a rural location, you still need to have a good supply of food in the event of a breakdown in civil order.
Even without having to defend against looters and thieves, chickens get sick and predators get hungry. Bugs come, hail happens and, sometimes, gardens just don’t grow the way you expect them to or that they have in seasons past.
U.S. Houses Aren’t Made To Withstand A Determined Attack
Determined, focused attackers aren’t going to mess around with your doors and windows. If they want you badly enough, they’ll launch Molotov cocktails with a water balloon launcher over your neighbors’ house and smoke you out.
If they want your stuff, all they have to do is drive a truck through one of your exterior walls and use smoke, gas grenades or a mix of household chlorine and ammonia to take care of you.
If a fight comes to your front door in a survival situation and you have to defend yourself against a lethal-force attack, you’re setting yourself up to likely spend time in jail or looking out for people who want revenge.
I’m not suggesting you let people steal from you. I’m saying you should try to do whatever you can to keep from being a target thieves think is worth hitting.
What about weapons? Guns are a good means of personal defense, especially a good pump shotgun. It’s hard to miss with a shotgun at close range. The problem with guns is threefold. One, where they are kept, two, are they loaded and three, does your state have a “Castle” law?
If it takes more than a few seconds to reach your gun you probably won’t need it — you will be dead. If the gun, for safety sake, is not loaded you will not need it as you will also be dead. And if you have a loaded gun near and use it and your state does not have a castle law you may end up in prison.
So in summary, unless you are a survivalist, your best means of protections against home invasion are: 1) a neighborhood watch with committed and involved neighbors, 2) plenty of lights, 3) well trained dogs, 4) good locks and secure windows, 5) don’t advertise your prosperity, and 6) an alarm system.