What Should I Do?

Fortifying Yourself And Your Home Against Crime

Wednesday, April 6, 2011, 11:23 PM

In my first post on crime, I urged you to accept the reality of the criminal threat and to mentally choose not to allow yourself to be easily victimized.  Hopefully you’re reading this second post because you’ve sworn off the denial, distraction, and passivity that characterizes most people and decided to do whatever you reasonably can to protect yourself, your family, and your home.  If this mindset of yours is authentic and deeply felt, you’re more than halfway to your goal.

Your next step is to form a self-protection plan. Helping you do that is the purpose of this second post. “Self-protection” is too large of a subject for one article, so I’ve narrowed it down to something you can reasonably take on in the near future: fortifying your home and yourself against crime.  I’m going to focus on three types of crimes, because your plans to defend against all three are closely related.  

  1. Burglary when your house is unoccupied.
  2. Burglary when you are home.
  3. Home invasion robbery.

Legal definitions vary from state to state, but in Pennsylvania burglary is defined as unauthorized entry into your home or other building (with or without the use of force) with the intent to commit a theft or a felony. Burglary is considered a property crime because the usual intent is to steal valuables that are not in the physical possession of another person.  By contrast, robbery is stealing valuables from a person using or threatening to use force.  Robbery is a violent crime against a person for the purpose of theft.  

Burglary in an Unoccupied House

Most burglaries are intentionally committed when the criminal believes the house to be empty.  Burglars want to avoid being confronted by a home’s occupants because they’re afraid of getting hurt by the homeowner or captured by the police.  Most burglars are unarmed when they break in (except for a tool they might have used to force entry) because they have no intention of having to hurt someone to complete their crime and safely escape.  This crime presents the least amount of physical danger to you, but it is by far the most common of the three.  Whatever plan you come up with has to address this issue comprehensively.  Fortunately, most of your plans to prevent burglary will be useful in your plans to deal with the next two crimes which are far less frequent, but far more dangerous to your physical safety. 

Check out this typical burglary story caught on video.  The teenage burglars crawled in through a “pet door” on an exterior door, ignored the friendly pets (2 dogs, a cat, and a noisy bird), and ransacked the house.  (“So easy a caveman could do it!”)  Atypically, the owner, who had been previously burglarized, had set up a security camera in her house, which she monitored live via the Internet while she was at work.  She saw the intruders, called police, and the two boys were arrested. 

It would have been a good idea to get rid of the pet door.  Anyone want to bet these were the same two who burglarized her place the first time?

Burglarly When Someone is Home (or Comes Home)

Try as they may to ensure that the houses they break in to are unoccupied, burglars sometimes break in to houses when someone is home or comes home during the crime.  Even burglars who break in when they assume you are home (asleep) have every intention of getting in, stealing some valuables, and getting out undetected and unhurt.  As you might imagine, this is a much more dangerous crime for anyone who is home at the time of the break in.  Usually, the burglar will run away the moment he realizes someone is home, arrives home, or wakes up from their sleep. 

This is the best result for you, but you can’t count on it.  Things can turn violent a number of different ways, and once they do there’s no telling how badly it will end.  In the moment he realizes someone is home, the burglar may decide to use violence to succeed in taking valuables (even if he has never been violent before).  Or he may decide to commit a different crime in addition to stealing valuables (rape, murder, kidnapping).  Or he may feel trapped and use force simply to escape the house.  Check out the story of this couple who came home to find a burglar in their house.  It could’ve turned out much worse, as the residents were not prepared to try to stop the burglar.  Prepare in advance before you try anything like this!

Home Invasion Robbery (Violent)

Home invasion robbery is a very violent and dangerous crime and is thankfully rare.  Home invasion robberies are almost always committed by two or more criminals who are armed and quite willing to use any level of violence necessary to get what they want.  Home invasion robbers intentionally plan to attack while you are home and to use violence to get you to give them what they want, even if it’s in a safe or a different location.  Many home invasions involve murder or attempted murder, so as not to leave any witnesses. 

Criminals who commit these crimes are generally very experienced in crime and violence, and are tired of making off with small amounts of money and valuables in simple burglaries and convenience store stick-ups.  Home invaders are looking for a big score which they have reason to believe you can deliver to them, and are willing to take the risks and use the violence necessary to succeed.  Check out this NY Times piece about the brutal Petit family home invasion.  As you read this account, note how easy it was for the criminals to gain access to the house, how unprepared the family was, how little crime this community normally experiences, how brutal the crime ended up being, and how true this saying is:  When seconds mean the difference between life and death, the police are just minutes away.

Develop a Comprehensive Plan

Start with the easiest, most common threats to deal with and work your way up the threat scale as far as you can afford and believe is realistic in your situation.  Develop a comprehensive plan and upgrade your defenses as conditions/events indicate.  

The entry level threat is the common burglary described above.  Burglars want something worth stealing, an empty house, low visibility while they’re making their entry, and easy access to the interior of your house.  Your job is to deny them these things and frustrate them at every turn.  (In a sense, your house has to be set up to defend itself while you’re away!)  This is first and foremost a mind-game.  You want to change the criminal’s mind about breaking in to your place.  You want him to conclude there are plenty of other places that would be easier and more profitable for him to burglarize.  

Your first goal is to make the burglar conclude breaking in to your place is not worth the payoff.  If you drive a $60,000 car, wear a $5,000 wedding ring or watch, and live in a $500,000 house, you’re already at a disadvantage, because you can’t hide these things.  Any obvious signs of wealth (even living in certain zip codes!) attract burglars, because they figure you have stuff laying around the house they can steal even if they don’t plan to steal the watch on your wrist.  However, do whatever you can to conceal the cash and valuables you have in your house.  If you have precious metals and cash at home, you should keep that a closely guarded secret (i.e., only you and one other person should know about it, if possible).  Guns should not be displayed, no matter how tastefully.  Valuables should not be visible to someone who comes to your door, looks in your window, or stands and talks to you in your entryway.  Valuables and safes should not be visible to teenagers and other visitors to your house, contractors doing work in your house, or to your landlord if you rent.  Most burglars are males between the ages of 14-25 who have been in your place with your permission at an earlier date (or know someone who has and has talked about it).  

Your next objective is to do your best to make your house appear occupied even when it’s not.  And remember that burglars don’t necessarily just look at your house once from across the street to decide whether it’s unoccupied.  They listen for sounds (voices, TV).  They observe patterns (garage door open or closed, mail or newspaper not brought in, snow not shoveled). They knock on the door or dial your phone number, and if you answer, they come up with a reason for calling/knocking and move on to someone else’s place, or try yours again another time.  They check your social networking site to see if you’re on vacation.  They check the newspaper to discover who’s going to be at a wedding. Some of the guidance often offered includes: lights on timers, leave a TV on, have a neighbor pick up your mail while you're away, etc.

If you can’t convince the burglar casing your house that it’s occupied, you want to make it appear too risky and difficult to get in undetected.  You want to set up the exterior of your house to convince the potential burglar that there’s no way he can approach your house and work on gaining entry without being in plain view to neighbors, passersby, and police on patrol.  That means proper lighting (e.g., motion-activated lights on all sides of the house out of reach from the ground) and proper landscaping (i.e., Is there any vegetation he could hide behind while gaining entry through a door or window?)  A sign or signs advertising your alarm system and real or decoy security cameras are in this category, whether or not you have an actual alarm/camera system.  The signs and cameras indicate two things to the burglar: 1) you’ve thought of burglary already and taken steps to prevent it, and 2) the alarm signs and cameras indicate “someone” is “watching” him even if you and your neighbors aren’t.

If the burglar decides you have valuables worth stealing, you aren’t home, and he won’t be noticed, your next line of defense is to make getting in to your house too loud, time-consuming, and difficult.  Sadly, most burglars gain entry through 1) an unlocked door (e.g., the Petit home invasion) or 2) an unlocked window.  This is quick, silent, and easy.  Don’t make it so easy, people!  The next most common point of entry is a locked door, which is much less secure than most people realize on a door that has not be properly fortified.  Go to this site and watch how easy and quick it is to kick in the average door (I’m not selling this company’s products, just showing you how easy it is to kick in a locked door).  In truly high-crime areas, your doors and windows should be guarded by steel security doors and bars, since normal doors and windows are simply too easy to defeat, even by amateurs.

Despite your best efforts, you have to plan for the possibility that a burglar will overcome all your efforts at prevention and succeed in breaking into your home/apartment while you are away.  Now what?  Well, don’t give up, because here’s where the fun starts!  Now your burglary alarm system should be tripped, starting a countdown in the burglar’s mind about how long he has before the police and nosy neighbors start arriving.  (I advocate real, monitored alarms, not just alarm signs).  Most burglars stay in the target house for less than five minutes anyway, but a noisy alarm siren and the EVENTUAL arrival of the police is important to make sure he doesn’t overstay his welcome. 

The monitored alarm helps ensure that the burglar won’t have the time to find your well-hidden valuables or crack open your safe, no matter what else he finds laying around in plain view in those few minutes.  You should have a list kept in a safe place (like your safe) that itemizes all of your valuables, including serial numbers and photos.  You can engrave what the police call “owner-applied numbers” on items that don’t have serial numbers, or in addition to them.  Your home phone number is a good number to use.  All of this helps with insurance reimbursement and in getting your stuff back if the police do make an apprehension.  Oftentimes, a search warrant is served on a suspected burglar’s residence or car and many items are found which are suspected to be stolen.  However, most of the time the items cannot be returned or additional charges placed on the suspect because there is no way to identify the owner of most stolen merchandise.  You can get yours back by giving the police serial numbers, owner-applied numbers, and photos of valuables stolen when you initially report a crime.   

I have barely scratched the surface of this subject, and there is much additional research that you must do to plan out your home’s defenses.  Here are some sites to help you.  These sites include checklists which you can use to perform a self-assessment and plan your upgrades.

I would be remiss not to emphasize how important it is for you to fortify yourself, not just your home.  You (your mind, your disciplines, your skills) are the keys to keeping your home safe from burglary.  Whatever you do and whatever upgrades you add to your residence, be disciplined and use whatever you’ve got diligently.  I once responded to a report of a burglary at the Philadelphia home of a celebrity whose name you may know.  This wealthy, well-known woman keeps a second home in Philadelphia and was the victim of a burglary there while she was out of state at her primary residence.  The burglar broke a pane of glass in the garage door, and then reached in and pulled the cord that activated the garage door opener.  Once inside, he closed the garage door, and, in complete privacy, easily forced open the door from the garage to the residence.  No burglar alarm was installed which would’ve called the police at that point. 

The burglar spent a lot of time searching for valuables, including cutting open couch cushions.  The burglar tried to move the safe he found locked and secure in the bedroom, but it was too heavy to move more than 3 inches.  Then he found over $100,000 in jewelry and watches in a shoebox in the same bedroom with the safe, and left a happy man.  To top it all off, there was no insurance to cover the loss!  If you have locks, lock ‘em.  If you have an alarm, activate it.  If you have a safe, put your valuables in it.  Don’t make it so easy on them, people!   And whatever you do, stay alert and aware.  If someone followed you home from the jewelry store or bank, would you notice?  If someone was watching you and your house off and on for a week, would you notice?  And if you noticed, would you take effective action?  Would the burglar watching you get the distinct impression that you were watching him?

Now, on to burglary while you are home.  For this crime, you need all of the preparations you made for burglary while you are not home, plus some.  Because of the increased risk of danger to you and your family from the burglar, some things you may have already done become more important and some new things come into focus.  

First, it is critical for your safety that you get some kind of warning that an intrusion into your home has begun.  The need to configure your perimeter, doors, and windows to slow the burglar down and force him to make noise is crucial.  You need that warning and that time to respond, no matter what your response is going to be.  It doesn’t do any good to have a “safe room” or a home defense firearm or a plan to run out the door screaming for help if the burglar gets in and gets to you before you can execute your plan. 

Fortified doors and windows along with a properly-activated alarm system are the bare essentials to give you enough time to respond.  Arrange your passive defenses to give you enough time to activate your plan, and be realistic.  If you have a safe room or a firearm, test how long it would take you to get everybody into the safe room or actually deploy your gun in the worst case scenario (eg. when everyone is asleep).  The longer it takes you to implement your plan, the more time you need from the moment you realize you’re getting burglarized until the moment you and the burglar are face to face.  Most people are much too optimistic about how long it would take them to respond.  (If you have to run to the bedroom closet to get your gun, unlock it, load it and run to the burglar’s entry point, your house has to be unusually slow and difficult to enter to give you that much time.)  If you are unable or unwilling to use force to defend yourself in this situation, then your house must be that much stronger.  You can’t afford to allow the burglar inside while you’re there because you’ll be completely at his mercy if his intentions include violence.

All TV commercials by companies selling burglary alarms contain wildly optimistic estimates of police response times.  Even in Philadelphia, which is densely populated and where police are generally close by (even if they are already busy with other calls), response to burglary alarms runs into the four to five minute range at best, and to two or more hours at worst.  Calls to 9-1-1 by residents stating that someone has broken in and is still in the house are almost always reached in less than three minutes.  Suburban and rural response times are generally much, much longer, unless you’re very lucky and a Deputy or Trooper just happens to be close by when the call comes out.  Don’t count on it!  However, even three minutes is an eternity if you’re in your house with a burglar, and I urgently advise you to have a better plan than hiding and hoping until the police arrive.  The advantage of having a firearm close at hand, and the skill to use it, is that you can deal with the worst case scenarios much better and without regard to what the police do.

There is also the issue of how our worsening economic problems are inevitably going to slow down police response times due to fewer police on the street.  Watch this TV news report of two women and a child who waited 35 minutes for police to arrive while watching a burglar persistently trying and ultimately breaking in to their home.  One of the women had to fight the man off with a vacuum cleaner (!!) just as the police arrived.  It could’ve been much worse.  What would you have done?  What if the burglar intended to kill or hurt the occupants and he got in three minutes earlier?  

Home invasion robbery is different from burglary because the robbers want you to be home and they’re not scared off by you or any weapons you might have.  They plan to use threats, pain, and, if necessary, torture to get you to open your safe, go to the bank and empty your account, or give up whatever it is they think you have.  And God help you if they have the wrong address and think you’re a drug dealer with a stash of cash and drugs.  That mistake is made by home invaders more than you might think, and it always ends badly for the residents, because no amount of torture can make you tell robbers where your drugs and drug money are if you’re not a drug dealer!  Home invasion robbers depend on the element of surprise, speed of action, and the willingness to use extreme violence to overcome anything they think you might do in self-defense.  

The key in home invasion robberies is to deny the robbers entry into your home. Once they’re in, it’s very unlikely anybody will come to your rescue, because from the outside there won’t be anything suspicious to see or hear.  The skill and intelligence of the robbers is important, but even an amateur home invader with below-normal intelligence who is willing to use extreme violence will overcome most victims.  Most people simply aren’t prepared enough for this kind of crime, even if committed by dummies.  But since I expect our economic problems and diminishing law enforcement resources to worsen, I also expect this sort of crime to become more common.  So, in addition to recommending that you take everything above very seriously, I offer the following suggestions, particularly to those of you who have enough wealth to make a you a potential target for home invasion.

  • First, you must not allow yourself to be pounced upon by home invaders who are waiting for you to come home or to leave your home.  Could someone follow you home, pull in behind you, pull a gun, and demand entry into your house?  Could robbers be waiting in hiding near your door and then pounce when you arrive/leave?  Eliminate any hiding places on your property.  Establish a perimeter fence or wall.  Arm yourself and get the training necessary to adequately defend yourself.  Decide in advance, if you are outside confronted by home invaders and your loved ones are inside, that you will die before letting them inside.  Warn them any way you can, and don’t let the robbers in.
  • Second, you must establish a way to “interview” people who knock on your door, without letting them in or making yourself vulnerable to a “push in” once you open the door.  The simplest method is to install a two-way intercom system and arrange it so you can see the people outside while you talk to them.  The second way is to install a heavy duty steel bar security door outside of your house’s door, through which you can talk with and see anyone who comes to your door.  The security door can be mounted just on the outside of your house door (like a flimsy screen door but much stronger).  Or you can enclose your porch or entry way with security bars and a security door.  This way you can talk to strangers pleasantly without fear of them rushing you and getting inside.  Once the home invaders are inside, you’re way behind the curve.
  • Third, firearms and the attendant skills are absolutely mandatory if you expect to be able to cope with a home invasion.  This has been optional up to this point, but not with home invaders.  The same is true of a top-of-the-line alarm system that includes the capability to send a silent alarm to the police without the home invaders knowing about it.  These panic alarms can be sent from the control pad by the entry door and from portable transmitters carried on your body.  Ferfal deals with home invasion at great length in his book and blog.  Since most Americans aren’t yet much concerned about this issue, I’ll direct you to him if you are one of the few who is concerned and wealthy enough to be a target.  Of course, if our economic problems and moral decay continue in the direction we’ve been going, it will take less and less wealth to attract the attention of the more and more criminals willing to engage in this kind of crime. 

If you have questions that have not been answered here, ask them in the following comments section or send me a private message.

- thc0655


This What Should I Do? blog series is intended to surface knowledge and perspective useful to preparing for a future defined by Peak Oil.  The content is written by PeakProsperity.com readers and is based in their own experiences in putting into practice many of the ideas exchanged on this site.  If there are topics you'd like to see featured here, or if you have interest in contributing a post in a relevant area of your expertise, please indicate so in our What Should I Do? series feedback forum.

If you have not yet seen the other articles in this series, you can find them here:

This series is a companion to this site's free What Should I Do? Guide, which provides guidance from Chris and the PeakProsperity.com staff on specific strategies, products, and services that individuals should consider in their preparations.  

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57 Comments

Travlin's picture
Travlin
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 15 2010
Posts: 1322
Yes, planning is crucial

Thc0655

Thanks for writing another excellent article with helpful links.  I particularly like how you use your years of experience as a police officer to focus on the practical things we need to know, and wake people up to the reality of the threat.  I think your most important message is that we need to think about this and prepare ahead of time.  Trying to play “catch up” in these situations can go very wrong in a hurry.

Travlin   

Poet's picture
Poet
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Posts: 1843
Designing For Home Defense

Thank you again for another excellent artlcle.

One thing I want to bring up is fact that homes these days are NOT constructed with defense in mind. Most security-minded people work around the design of the home.

In medieval times, castles had approaches from the left so invaders' shield arms would face away from defenders. Staircases curved upwards in a clockwise direction to handicap attackers' sword arms from reaching back to swing forward while defenders could swing freely and downwards for greater effect. The stairs were also of uneven height to slow or trip attackers moving in darkness who were unfamiliar with the pattern.

Maybe in the future, besides bars on windows and steel doors, people will think about defense in mind. Maybe brick or stone to enclose a "safe room", a recessed entryway against intruders who may want to run into a door or use a battering ram, etc.

Poet

Rector's picture
Rector
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Posts: 346
You got me off my chair.

You got me off my chair.  Calling burglar bars guy right now.  Those back windows are way too vulnerable. . .thanks.

Rector

Troutbum's picture
Troutbum
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Posts: 3
Firearms....

The legal liability can be quite high when you use a firearm to defend your property. If you shoot someone trying to break in to your home you can be prosecuted for various crimes like manslaughter, etc. or even sued by the bad guy's family.
I urge everyone to get professional training when once you acquire firearms for home defense. Know the law in your state and city.
Thanks for a great post.

patrickhenry's picture
patrickhenry
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Posts: 76
Troutbum wrote:The legal

Troutbum wrote:
The legal liability can be quite high when you use a firearm to defend your property. If you shoot someone trying to break in to your home you can be prosecuted for various crimes like manslaughter, etc. or even sued by the bad guy's family. I urge everyone to get professional training when once you acquire firearms for home defense. Know the law in your state and city. Thanks for a great post.

Law abiding citizens using firearms are effective in taking bad guys off the street for good while sending a message to other bad guys.  Before they harm YOUR family.

http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2011/03/22/news/cops_and_courts/...

Lobby your legislators for strong castle doctrine laws in your state.

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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Posts: 606
Man bitten while tackling burglar

This link got disabled.  Here it is:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIgzwjWIOcU 

idoctor's picture
idoctor
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Posts: 1731
This should work....Protect

This should work....Protect the home or bring dinner home LOL. It is on my shopping list...15 rounds....one side can be loaded with buck & the other side with bird shot.

joemanc's picture
joemanc
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
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Posts: 834
Excellent Writeup

Excellent, Excellent Writeup. You gave me some ideas that I'm going to implement, like, tonight!

I've been in my house for 7 months and I figured I was safe. My next door neighbor is home everyday childsitting the neighborhood kids. I live in a very sheltered neighborhood. Every other house seems to have a dog. When one barks, it seems they all do. My next door neighbor is a policeman and I'm a mile away from the police station. On the flip side, I discovered the previous owner was into drugs, a lot of drugs. Since my neighborhood was so "safe", I didn't even bother to change my door locks, until I realized that. What was I thinking?!?  I've read that there have been several burglaries reported in my small, suburban town lately. That's a wake up call to me and so is this. Thanks again.

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
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Posts: 1596
thc0655, thanks so much for

thc0655, thanks so much for writing about home protection!  It is an area where I have been feeling we are not adequately prepared, so your ideas are timely and welcomed.  I don't like to think that such precautions may become necessary, but I sure don't want to be without them if they do.

I got charged by 2 big dogs when I was on a walk a couple of years ago.  They had been somewhat threatening towards me before, so this time I was prepared with pepper spray, and used it when they crossed the road running and barking maliciously at me.  ( I'm a "dog person" and have handled many other dogs coming barking at me with no problem.)   I hated it.  I was scared, and they kept coming at me; I would spray one, it would back off, then the other would come at  me, and I sprayed it, and it would back off, and the other would come back at me, until finally I got away.  The only thing I would have liked less would have been having those 2 big dogs charging me and not having that pepper sray when I needed it. (-Not quite the same as a home invasion story, but hopefully it conveys the same "better to be prepared and not need it than to not be prepared and need it" moral to the story!).

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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pinecarr wrote: hopefully it

pinecarr wrote:

hopefully it conveys the same "better to be prepared and not need it than to not be prepared and need it" moral to the story!).

It does indeed.  Same reason I'm doing thorough research on a handgun right now (and for some time now).  I so DON'T want to take this step, but have now become convinced that it's irresponsible to do otherwise.  Started saving for it about 6 mos ago.  

Viva -- Sager

nota bene:  edited for proper Ainglish.

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
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Posts: 239
re: handgun

I don't want to take that step either Sager, but I'm beginning to feel it's the responsible thing to do too.  Can you give me a heads up on any useful info your research has turned up.  First and foremost, how much of an investment does it represent.

I also think about basic security measures and how much they could interfere with things I enjoy like camping out in the backyard with the kids and walking around outside in the dark enjoying the stars and the night sounds.  I guess I could turn off those motion sensor lights when I'm out at night and make it my responsibility to be aware of any suspicious sounds.  And then there's a fence - that really goes against my grain too.  I'm probably going to reluctantly take some of these steps and fill in the gaps with a strategy of look poor (my favorite) and be aware.

joesxm2011's picture
joesxm2011
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Posts: 248
Please excuse me if

Please excuse me if mentioning a commercial service is a problem.  I am not trying to be a shill or anything like that.

If you are thinking about getting a defensive firearm you need to make sure that you get the proper training.  There are two aspects to the training.

The easier of the two to get is training on operating the firearm, although there are degrees of training and tactical aspects that are open to a lot of difference of opinion which I will not get into here.

The other, overlooked, aspect is training on the legal and ethical aspects of defending yourself with lethal force.

I went down the path of investigating and getting the proper training and here are some of my thoughts.

At the minimum you should read "In the Gravest Extreme" by Massad Ayoob.

If you can afford the four days and $800 or so for tuition you should definitely take the MAG-40 course "Rules of Engagement for the Armed Citizen".  You can find out about this on the Massad Ayoob Group web site.

The first two days they cover basic safety topics and teach you how to safely draw from a holster and fire.  This builds up to taking a test similar to what the police use for their annual qualification test (slower time and not as long distances).

If you are a new shooter they will get you off on the right foot.  If you have been shooting a lot but never had formal training you will probably learn something.  If you have had a lot of training already you may want to skip the first two days and only take the classroom part.

The second two days is the really unique part of the training.  There are a lot of trainers who can teach you to shoot.  Ayoob excels at teaching when, when not and why to shoot.  He covers all aspect such as before, during and after the encounter, dealing with law enforcement, doing things to avoid later problems in court etc.

In any case, I think you should strongly consider this training.  I took the four day class and then the next year I took the classroom part over again - that is how important I feel it is.

Another good resource is the Armed Citizen's Legal Defense Network.  This is an organization that helps you get your act together from the legal perspective so if (heaven forbid) you ever have to defend yourself you are not trying to figure out this stuff at the last minute.

You can join for $80 and get access to their lists of lawyers in each state and be eligible for the various types of assistance that they provide to members that end up in court, but I will leave you to read that on their web site.  When you join you get three nice DVD's.

You can also read their monthly newsletters which have a lot of good articles for free in their archives without becoming a member.

http://www.armedcitizensnetwork.org/

http://massadayoobgroup.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Gravest-Extreme-Firearm-Personal-Protection/dp/0936279001/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302296598&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Armed-America-Kathy-Jackson/dp/1453685553/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302296598&sr=1-2

In any case if you decide to get a defensive firearm please take the time to get professional training so that you will act in a responsible manner and will be aware of all of the ramifications - ethical, legal and tactical.

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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Joined: Feb 11 2009
Posts: 2120
Firearms?

steveyoung wrote:

I don't want to take that step either Sager, but I'm beginning to feel it's the responsible thing to do too.  Can you give me a heads up on any useful info your research has turned up.  First and foremost, how much of an investment does it represent.

Well, the amount of investment depends greatly on what you buy and why and new-or-used, etc. etc.  Best place for good advice on this subject is the Definitive Firearms Thread.  Those folks have it nailed down nine ways to Sunday.

For the record, I've narrowed things down a bit to S&W 627, CZ75, or maybe Glock 19.  (Smaller-ish handguns for concealed carry purposes...[assuming I could get permitted]...)  With 2 of these 3 options I'd be buying used -- couldn't afford it otherwise...

But yeah, ask the cats on the DFT.  They're the ones to answer your ???s...

Viva -- Sager 

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ken325
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Advice on firearm purchase and training

The advice to seek training is a good idea.  You might get by with reading a book and going to the range a few times with a mentor who can give you instruction, but you should get professional training when you can afford it.

If you are only concerned with home defense then get a pump shotgun.  I would recommend a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500.  Both of these have been used extensively by military and police.  Both of these are very reliable and it is easy to find parts if you need to repair or upgrade.  Shotguns are also affordable. “You can find a pump shotgun for $300-$400.  You could find a single shot for about $100.  You will also need cleaning equipment, hearing protection, eye protection, and you need to stockpile at least $100 in ammunition.  A shotgun is the most versatile firearm as you can change the effect by altering the shell you use.  This makes it a good choice for hunting and self-defense.  A 12 gauge is the most common, but a 20 gauge is sufficient and you get a big reduction in recoil.  I would look at an improved cylinder choke for home defense.  The choke controls the rate that the shot expands when it leaves the barrel.  Improved cylinder means very little choke and it will let you use buckshot and slugs effectively.  I think that #4 buckshot is a good choice as you get about 27 pellets that are slightly bigger than a 22 bullet with a 12 ga.  Use # 3 buckshot in a 20 gauge.  Another advantage of the shotgun is it is less likely to penetrate walls and injure your neighbor.

If you plan on getting a concealed carry permit then you need a handgun.  You need this if you want mobile protection and not just protection in your home.  Handguns are inferior to rifles and shotguns when it comes to stopping power. You need to worry about stopping power as you do not want a bad guy to return fire after he is hit.  You will need to balance the size and weight of the handgun with the stopping power.  High quality hollow point ammunition is a must as it increases stopping power and lowers the chance of a ricochet.  You also need to decide if you want a semi-auto or a revolver.  Revolvers are very reliable and they are easier to use.  Get a revolver if you only intend to go to the range 1-2 times a year to practice. You will need to go more often if you want a semi-auto.  The advantage of the semi auto is you get a thinner gun, more ammo, and faster reloads.  If you’re looking at a revolver I would look at a J frame (snub nose) smith and Wesson like the 642 ($375) or the Rugger LCR ($410) in 38 special.  A bigger more capable revolver would be a 357 magnum. 

The problem with semi-autos is they can malfunction in multiple ways.  You need to train to know how to clear the gun if it malfunctions.  Higher quality guns malfunction less.  Glocks, Springfield XD, Smith and Wesson M&P all have good reputations.  You should expect to pay $400-700 for a decent quality semiauto.  I would go with a 9mm for a first gun.  Ammo is cheaper and it should be adequate with good quality hollow points.

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levin
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Firearm Choice for newcomers

Thank you thc0655 for a very needed post on the topic of crime and self defense.

I am a civilian with more than 25 years of shooting and, reloading experience and I have 72 hours of professional basic handgun training.  I know how easy it is to make a mistake in purchasing a firearm that I later found didn't suit me for some reason.    Because events are accelerating and time is ,in a sense, running out I thought I would offer some observations to those who are new to firearms in an effort to help others avoid some common pittfalls in purchasing your first handgun.

Go to a gun store and ask to look at various models you have researched.  Be very careful to observe how the grip feels in your hand.  For example, compare a Glock 19 to a S&W M&P9 both chambered in 9mm (and both have a history of extreme reliability).  I think you will notice a distinct difference in grip feel.  Choose a model that feels comfortable in the hand since in training you will shoot hundreds of rounds of practice ammunition.  Ask to be shown how to operate the handgun's controls, see if you are comfortable operating the controls.  Don't make any purchase decision at this point.

Ask a friend to take you to a shooting range for your first shooting experience.   Perhaps you will get the opportunity to compare a revolver in 38 Special to a semiautomatic in 9mm.  It's probably best to stay away from magnum handgun rounds for your first shooting experience.

Some shooting ranges will allow you to rent a handgun model to try it on the range.  If you can, do this with a friend.  Some ranges offer NRA certified basic handgun training courses at a nominal cost.  Its a good way to get started.  You will never know how a particular model handgun feels in a given cartridge until you actually fire several charged magazines through it.

When your ready to purchase your first hangun choose a make and model that are commonly known and available chambered in a commonly acceptable defense and available cartridge.  That is 38 Special, 9mm, 40 S&W, or 45ACP.  The 45 ACP has the sharpest recoil of all these listed cartidges.  Ammunition avalability has been more difficult in recent years and you will need more than you might think.

Another source of training is Grey Group and Defense Training International.  Mr. Ayoob also has written many books on firearms in addition to "In the Gravest Extreme".  They are worth reading.

And last, begin learning about a concept called "combat mindset".   Law enforcment officers and military groups train in this to assist them in handling the stress of a violent encounter with another person. 

Levin

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Doug
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conceal-carry weapon

You might want to look at a Ruger LCP.  It's a .380 and small enough to carry comfortably in a pocket.  They're selling like hotcakes around here.

Doug

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ao
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DFT = Definite Firearms Thread

Echoing Sager's post, the DFT, for the newbies here, is the Definitive Firearms Thread.  All the issues noted above have been discussed there and more.  Check it out.  I think you'll find it informative and useful.

I realize that, given the volume of information on CM, it can seem a bit overwhelming to find what you're looking for but using the search function and checking the archives is worth a try.  We've had a lot of new folks come here in the past few months and we're seeing a lot more reposts and repetition of information than we've had previously.   

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Something things

Something to consider if one decides to defend his home with a firearm. There has been a tremendous rise of Meth in many areas of the USA. These types have little brain left & are usually pretty wired up to say the least. They do not stop easy with a handgun but one shot with a 12 gauge & they go backwards...always! Then you end up in court & evidence will show you only shot them once instead of multiple times with an underpowered handgun. I believe this will help your case that you did not use excessive force.

The size & sound of a pump shotgun will make an impression on any criminal which may send them running without having to even use it. Much easier to be on take in a high stress situation.

Top cop Raymond Kelly says Harlem Blue Flame Co. owner "Shotgun Gus" shot in self-defense

BY TANYANIKA SAMUELS AND CORKY SIEMASZKODAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERSSunday, August 16, 2009

New York's top cop on Saturday defended the shotgun-toting Harlem businessman who became a reluctant hero by blasting the bandits terrorizing his store.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Charles (Gus) Augusto "acted in self-defense" when he killed two thugs and wounded two more on Thursday.

"He certainly had the right to defend himself and his co-workers," he said. "I know he took no pleasure in this thing. It was the toughest day of his life."

Kelly spoke as officials prepared to arraign the two tough guys who survived being shot by Augusto on Thursday.

"No one could take pleasure in taking a life, but all indications are he acted pursuant to New York penal law," Kelly said of Augusto

.

A 72-year-old businessman who has operated the Blue Flame restaurant supply store for decades, Augusto grabbed his gun after the invaders burst into his store and began beating up his store clerk.

Augusto said he told the alleged ringleader, 29-year-old James Morgan of Manhattan, they had no money and pleaded with him to let them go. But Morgan wouldn't listen and resumed pistol-whipping Toxie (JB) Hall.

So Augusto fired three times, killing Morgan and 21-year-old Raylin Footmon. Shamel McCloud and Bernard Witherspoon, both 21, staggered bleeding out of the store and were quickly caught by cops.

"I would have been happy if they'd all run out of the door," Augusto told The Daily News on Friday when he reopened his store on West 125th St. "I'm sick to my stomach over it."

Augusto also bristled at being called a hero.

"I would have felt like a hero if I could have talked that kid into going home," he said.

Asked if he had another weapon in case somebody else tried to rob him, Augusto said, "I'm not going to tell you that."

It was later discovered that Augusto did not have a permit for the shotgun, which he had purchased more than 20 years earlier - and had hoped he would never have to fire.

Police officials said Saturday that shotgun owners are required to register their weapons with the city - unlike permits needed for handguns. Augusto's shotgun was registered.

Augusto stayed home Saturday and the store was closed.

The front door was still pitted from the shotgun blasts. And on the sidewalk, specks of blood were still visible.

tsamuels@nydailynews.com

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Great follow-up! Thoroughly

Great follow-up!

Thoroughly enjoying your contributions, THC.

Cheers!

Aaron

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Phil Williams
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Shattergard Window Film

http://www.shattergard.com/home.html

Anybody have any experience with protective window film?

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bear mace

I've never been a fan of guns and have neve shot one but I am thinking about getting at least one. One for hunting, one for self defense. But I'd also bring up the topic of bear mace. This allows for lives to be saved in cases of accidental firings, and you don't have to be so accurate as with a gun. You just spray it in a room and believe me that person won't be doing anything naughty for a while. And they will be incapacitated until police arrive. But you will be in great pain too after you use it so you might want to have a gas mask sitting handily beside the cannister. If you have kids or others in the vicinity this will of course make it more complicated.

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Interesting suggestion,

Interesting suggestion, Mark_BC; thanks.  Your points about the additional consequences -the sprayer also being affected, and concern about children- are duly noted and appreciated.

So where does one go to get bear mace...a camping store or army & navy store?

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Window film, bear spray

Protective window film (if you take the company's claims at face value) can be an effective layer of home defense, but it has no deterrent effect because burglars/home invaders can't see it.  The fact it's invisible is one of its assets though when it comes to the appearance of your home esthetically (compared to ugly bars).  The price is high enough to be in the same category as bars.  Then you have the issue of what to do after an unsuccessful burglary attempt which has caused the filmed window to be shattered but still in place.  Do you replace it (expensive) or not (ugly, free, and still has most of its security value left)?  With bars you don't usually have an attempt, but even if a malicious person breaks your glass to spite you for keeping him out, the glass repair is routine and not terribly expensive.  The highest level films are advertised to help stop flying debris in high winds/tornadoes and some handgun rounds, if you think you might need that.  I think of the product as a niche application.  For instance, how about film on your 1st floor front windows and bars around back where no one can see them?  Or how about film on the glass on the sidelights next to your front door?  On the other hand bars can be installed on the INSIDE of your windows (and hinged, for fire safety) where they are not so ugly.

Bear spray is basically OC pepper spray in a large "party size" which fogs an area instead of squirting a stream. Range is advertised as about 35 feet compared to 7-12 feet with human OC spray. These are not indoor weapons as you are guaranteed cross contamination (you will suffer the effects as much as your target).  This is even more the case with bear spray than antihuman stream because it's a fog and has a greater range.  The interior of your house will be unusable for 30-60 minutes.  I would not want to be in my house nearly blind and coughing heavily with criminals in the same shape. What if there is an accomplice outside who hears the commotion and comes in to back up his partner and is only 1/2 as affected as you two are? (I hear bear spray works great outside on bears, but even so I'd keep carrying my .44 magnum as a back up just in case.)  Only rookie cops use OC spray indoors, by the way, and only once! Veteran cops disagree on its effectiveness on the street.  Some refuse to carry or use it anymore after seeing it fail to stop suspects.  I have seen it work as advertised more often than not, so I carry mine.  You have to get close and you have to get a direct hit in the face for it to work (both are usually difficult, and sometimes impossible).  You MUST have a backup plan for when it doesn't work and the suspect continues to attack.  What would your back up plan be in your living room if the burglar/home invader continues or intensifies his attack while both of you are suffering the effects? You can get bear spray in many places such as thehomesecuritysuperstore.com, but only bother if you're hiking in bear territory or have them around your neighborhood.  On the other hand, I've seen advertisements for burglar bombs filled with OC spray that are designed to be tripped by a burglar entering your house.  Amusing, but maybe somewhat effective (maybe not).  Of course, you are guaranteed to eventually get bombed by your own trap when you forget to deactivate it.  I occasionally forget my burglar alarm is activated and step into an area protected by motion detectors.  I get the warning chirps and have to go turn it off.  No big deal.  With an OC burglar bomb you'll get a snoot full of pepper spray and have your house contaminated for an hour even with good ventilation trying to get it out.  If you catch that on home video, please share it here!

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Yes THC you'd have to know

Yes THC you'd have to know what you are doing with bear spray. I'd only use it if I had already donned a gas mask, and this should be tested to ensure it does actually keep it out of your lungs. Bear spray will stop a charging moose or elephant in its tracks, if it is released in a  room with a burglar you can be 100% guaranteed that person will be incapacitated. The important thing is to ensure that you aren't as well.

I'd never use a gun against a bear, they rarely stop them in their tracks, just aggravates them and you have to have good aim. With bear spray there is much more latitude. You may spray yourself as well but the bear won't be bothering you at least (bears have some of the most sensitive noses in the world which makes them particularly vulnerable to pepper spray). Actually, with bears, the best defense is the confidence you get form having a weapon against it, since you (should) show no fear and will come off as the aggressor rather than the prey, and the bear picks up on this and submits.

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A. M.
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Semantics

The language here is getting non-specific, and is broadening our focus.

Mark_BC, you said:

Quote:
Bear spray will stop a charging moose or elephant in its tracks, if it is released in a  room with a burglar you can be 100% guaranteed that person will be incapacitated. The important thing is to ensure that you aren't as well.

Can you substantiate this statement?
This sounds like marketing to me, as there is absolutely zero fail-safe methods of "stopping" anything in it's tracks 100% of the time with anything. If it cannot be substantiated, you need to ask yourself this:
Do burning eyes and leaky sinuses mean someone cannot grab and pummel you?
I know there have to be a significant number of veterans and LEO's who have been maced and forced to clinch just to prove it can be done, and familiarize themselves with the tools of their trade. 

Not to be rude, but Bear Spray and a Gas mask is not a combination to stake your life on.

The intended purpose of any "spray" weapon is to incapacitate a suspect so they can be detained. Once you've decided to take the "pepper spray" route, you need to consider the implications of using it in your home, consider that many who would break into your home have been maced before and probably have a higher tolerance, and if they are incapacitated, you need to know how to properly restrain them until authorities arrive. 

This carries ovious risks in the best of times - let alone the post-collapse society, where there might simply be no authorities capable of responding. 

Once you've unleashed the stream of pepper spray, it has reached it's "maximum effectiveness", for the most part - Unlike bullets.
With each additional spray, the burning will protract.
With each additional bullet, the damage compounds.

Using bear spray on people (or even bears) shows a lack of planning, which is what this article is all about!

The line of logic that "guns" don't work on "bears" is dismissive and counterproductive - while I know that's not our topic, I think this same line of logic is being applied to the threads "meat and potatos", so I'm going to address it.

"Guns" generally come in 3 basic forms:
1. Rifles
2. Shotguns
3. Pistols

Bears come in several forms as well; Black, grizzly/Kodiak, Brown, Polar, Panda (EtC) - each of which has their own physiology that's unique to their species.

So, to say a pistol isn't likely to work on a Kodiak is a "fair" statement. To say a rifle wouldn't is crazy talk, as Grizzlies are taken often with rifles.

What we need to do is highlight our needs by identifying realistic threats, then define the skillset required to mitigate that threat. Finally, we discuss tools. 

Bottom line, plan your defenses around being a "hard" target, and keep the reactionary use of violence up your sleeve at all times. 

Cheers,

Aaron

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capesurvivor
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Ruger .380

I'll respond to this here, instead of DFT, because I just looked at one of these pistols last week for my father, 83 y.o., in FL, for his first gun. IMHO, it is a bad choice. It is very light, with considerable recoil, and the store owner said it was not fun to shoot. The ammo is also expensive and you'd be unlikely to throw more than a few rounds down range learning to use it without feeling pummeled and broke. I have a .380 Walther PPK/S with Pachmayr grips that still has a pronounced recoil and is not for newbie use, again JMHO.

I would suggest anyone purchasing this to try before you buy.

CS

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Mark_BC wrote: Yes THC you'd

Mark_BC wrote:

Yes THC you'd have to know what you are doing with bear spray. I'd only use it if I had already donned a gas mask, and this should be tested to ensure it does actually keep it out of your lungs. Bear spray will stop a charging moose or elephant in its tracks, if it is released in a  room with a burglar you can be 100% guaranteed that person will be incapacitated. The important thing is to ensure that you aren't as well.

I'd never use a gun against a bear, they rarely stop them in their tracks, just aggravates them and you have to have good aim. With bear spray there is much more latitude. You may spray yourself as well but the bear won't be bothering you at least (bears have some of the most sensitive noses in the world which makes them particularly vulnerable to pepper spray). Actually, with bears, the best defense is the confidence you get form having a weapon against it, since you (should) show no fear and will come off as the aggressor rather than the prey, and the bear picks up on this and submits.

The whole idea behind bear spray (and pepper spray) is to incapacitate or distract an attacking animal or person long enough for you to leave the area.  Since we're talking home security here, if you're at home it is very probable that you have nowhere to run to, so incapacitating an attacker for maybe a minute or two may only be of marginal benefit (and like Aaron said even that is not a certainty).  IMO it would be best to focus more on measures to keep them out entirely, or failing that, measures that permanently incapacitate an intruder.  Pepper (or bear) spray seems more appropriate for situations outside of the home than for home defense.

- Nickbert

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There is a big difference

There is a big difference between those personal cannisters of squirting mace, versus bear spray. I can't reference right now a link to prove that bear spray will stop a charging elephant but I remember reading an account of someone using it against a charging male moose, which can be very aggressive.

Someone who has inhaled bear spray will not be able to grab and pummel anything, they will be completely incapacitated, for at least an hour. Bear spray is orders of magnitude stronger than the personal mace that squirts, and because it is in a spray, one breath of it will be enough (especially in a confined room). The tricky part is to ensure that you do not also inhale it. If you have kids, it might not be a good idea. I don't and I'll consider using it. I'd rather not risk killing someone.

It will be easy to deal with someone who has been bear maced because they won't have any idea what is going on, they will be blind and choking, helpless for at least an hour. Again, just make sure you aren't as well.

When I'm in grizzly country I don't rely on a gun, only bear spray, but first and foremost my brain. I have heard of people unloading six bullets on a charging bear before it comes down.

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A. M.
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Mark, If you've heard of

Mark,

If you've heard of people putting six bullets into the charging bear before it goes down, I'd suggest the outcome was successful.

You're continuing to use unsubstantiated claims:
 

Quote:
Someone who has inhaled bear spray will not be able to grab and pummel anything, they will be completely incapacitated, for at least an hour

Quote:
Bear spray is orders of magnitude stronger than the personal mace that squirts, and because it is in a spray, one breath of it will be enough (especially in a confined room)

Quote:
It will be easy to deal with someone who has been bear maced because they won't have any idea what is going on, they will be blind and choking, helpless for at least an hour. Again, just make sure you aren't as well.

These are some strongly worded, and extremely dubious assertions, to which I see absolutely zero credible sources referenced as support.
 
I've been gassed a couple times, and while it wasn't bear spray, the effects lasted about 15 minutes, and I was anything but incapacitated - which means incapable of meanful activity. I could have grabbed onto someone and struck them, stabbed them, or used a firearm to kill them in that condition. It'd have been easier for them to defend themselves, perhaps, but I find it difficult to believe that Bear spray is "orders of magnitude" more effective - and if the numbers represent this, I wouldn't believe that there isn't a point of diminished returns.

Your preference to "rather not risk killing someone" by using bear spray is like suggesting you'd rather not run down a car-jacker so you'll drive a Vespa.

It's not logical, and solves none of your perceived problems.

I'm not simply pushing for weapons here - so please, don't misunderstand. What I'm hoping will come of this is a greater understanding that you, as a person who's probably not been gassed, are over-estimating the potency of CS/Pepper Spray/Bear Spray.

It burns, it sucks, it forces compliance in a Law Enforcement environment, but it has no place in life or death conflict on the streets, and even less of a place inside your home, which is what we're discussing.

Further considerations should be given to the shelf life of pepper spray/bear spray, which is significantly less than a bullet. If we enter a protracted state of decline, how will you replace the spray once it's passed the expiration date?

If some do not expire, how many uses could you possibly get out of one container? 
What conditions for storage must be met?

While some find it unsavory to consider having to shoot someone, I find it infinitely less tolerable to be made a victim myself, for lack of preparation.

Cheers,

Aaron 

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thc0655, Aaron and Nickbert,

thc0655, Aaron and Nickbert, thanks for taking the time to write your informative posts about bear spray.  I see your points, and appreciate you all taking the time to make them. 

Mark_BC wrote:
Someone who has inhaled bear spray will not be able to grab and pummel anything, they will be completely incapacitated, for at least an hour.

Hi Mark-BC.  You may be right; that was the idea that attracted me (even knowing it would do the same to the rest of us inside as well).  But given the others' comments that they thought this was a risky and unsafe assumption, I just can't see taking the risk. 

When they said the spray might not be enough to truly incapacitate the intruder, that was what really made me less enthused about the idea.  I remembered when I got charged by the 2 big dogs and pepper sprayed them, how suprised  I was Ithat it didn't take them right down,. I'd really believed it would. So I see the others' points about not wanting to find yourself in that kind of a situation -with an intruder not incapacitated as you'd anticipated-  when you and your families' lives may be at stake.

Now if my gun permit would only come through sooner rather than later...

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ao
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bear spray for bears, gun for humans

Mark,

I never heard of a bear, moose, or elephant taking PCP.  People do.  And people are MUCH more dangerous than bears.  Bears don't necessarily know what a firearm means.  Humans do.  In bear country, I'd use bear spray backed up by a firearm.  In human country, forget the bearspray.  Also I'd bet on the criminal recovering from the effects of the bearspray before most of their victims.  Many criminals are more habituated to pain than the average citizen, often from the background that made them a criminal or from being "hardened" in a criminal environment.

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Wendy S. Delmater
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doors, locks, fences, guns & windows

When I married him two year ago my wonderful, naive husband had a paid off home with no working locks on the front and back doors.

*eyes roll toward the heavens* Oh good grief.

As the illustration says, unlocked doors are the biggest point of entry.  We now have new steel front and back doors with keyed-alike deadbolts and keys (and a fish-eye peephole on the desk in front of me, going in this weekend). Everyone in the family now has a key and at least locks it when we all leave. After leaving the home unlocked for nealy 30 years that was a hard habit to get my step-daugher into!

We're installing a fence around the property at the moment. It's a 4-ft chainlink, not serious protection, and mainly to enclose my large garden and protect it from stray dogs wandering in, but I like to think it will also very clearly define who is a trespasser.  FWIW the local laws say you can shoot someone coming toward your property or on it, but not if the perp is running away. (Hubby gave me his grandmother's antique  pistol as a wedding gift but the damned thing shoots 32 non-auto ammo & try finding THAT. We now have an Ithica shotgun and all know how to use it thanks to the extended family's practice range on a local farm.)  

But...the windows. *Sigh* Our stupid windows are still all locked and  painted shut so they are next. I wanted to replace them with new vinyl, double-paned windows and screens for ventillation purposes. Up until reading this article I had not thought about security issues with windows other than to plant thorn bushes under them and make sure they locked.

Any suggestions as to what kind of windows to get?

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earthwise
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What about Fido?

I've seen the discussion here range from guns, locks, & lighting to even bear spray, but nothing about dogs in the security equation. It would seem that, although they may not be suitable for everybody, having a dog could be a great benefit. Not just big, vicious "chew 'em up" type dogs, but even a little yapper that could sound the alarm when a bad guy comes a callin'. Anybody considering having some canine allies to help out?

ao's picture
ao
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earthwise wrote:   I've

earthwise wrote:

I've seen the discussion here range from guns, locks, & lighting to even bear spray, but nothing about dogs in the security equation. It would seem that, although they may not be suitable for everybody, having a dog could be a great benefit. Not just big, vicious "chew 'em up" type dogs, but even a little yapper that could sound the alarm when a bad guy comes a callin'. Anybody considering having some canine allies to help out?

earthwise,

Quote from my post on the Enrolled Members Forum on "SHTF ... sailboat", #1:

"With regards to the occupants of your residence, think several dogs, trained not only as guard dogs but also to refuse any food given by strangers (if you happen to be gone from the house).  Heck, you can even put Kevlar vests and protective collars on them to give them a fighting chance if the threat level increases.  They'll create enough warning noise, deterrence threat, and if need be, attack capability, to slow down a group of attackers enough for you or other family members to grab a weapon and/or even don body armor."

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thc0655
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Posts: 606
New windows, dogs

Safewrite is considering new windows and wondering about their security issues.  IMO, the energy issues are more important than their role in the security of the house.  I'd say get good double pane windows and use the locks religiously (as you are now doing with your new doors).  If you're going to leave them open for ventilation (while home or away) rig them so they can only be opened 2-4".  Many new windows have little tabs you can deploy to make this possible, but even if the ones you choose don't there are several ways to retrofit them yourself quite easily. When we first moved to Philadelphia, two times in one week someone saw our first floor front window open about 2" and tried to lift it up to climb in (this with the window 15 feet from a busy street in broad daylight).  I had a chain holding the window from opening more than 4".  The burglar gave up and didn't bother breaking the window.  And before I'd put bars up over the windows or security film on them I'd get a monitored alarm.  Windows will always be a weak point, but an alarm should catch the burglars as they're entering (if the window has a sensor) or seconds after they're inside (if the area is covered by a motion sensor).  Your fence is a good idea on many levels including the one you mentioned but I didn't in my post.  A person who is on the inside of your fence (no matter how feeble it is) is automatically suspicious before you see them doing or saying anything else.  According to many local laws he's already committed the minor offense of trespassing.  This allows you to start thinking defensively and taking appropriate defensive actions. If violence ensues your legal foundation is much stronger from the get-go -- he's on your fenced property after all.  The same goes for a window the burglar or home invader breaks to get in while you're there -- he's already used force, committed a felony and tipped you off to prepare to defend yourself.  I like where your head's at.  Good luck with the family!

Earthwise is considering the home security value of dogs.  I don't have anything against dogs, but many people overestimate their value in defending your home.  First, I embedded that first video (above) of the two burglars breaking in where there were two dogs just for this reason.  The resident had a little yapper (that didn't yap) and a golden retriever who was as sweet (to the burglars) as golden's are known to be!  Sometimes they don't put up the fuss you want (much less attack).  Second, some burglars are deterred by dogs, but some aren't.  (And home invaders are definitely NOT deterred by dogs since they're armed and willing to kill YOU, they will just as quickly kill your dogs. Home invaders take their cue from police when entering a drug house that's known to have truly vicious guard dogs: the first officer in the door has a shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot and is the designated dog-stopper.) Third, dogs don't call the police when an unauthorized entry is made, or when a fire starts inside.  Fourth, dogs can be expensive, more so than many people think who don't keep a log of the expenses.  When my professional, single woman neighbor moved in about 7 years ago I urged her to get an alarm.  In the end she said it was too expensive and got a German shepherd mix instead.  I KNOW he has cost her more than an alarm would have in food, vet bills, and home repairs. And sometimes when I come home from work after midnight I see her out walking him, by herself, unarmed.  My alarm system never keeps me company, but I don't have to walk it twice a day and board it somewhere when I go on vacation. All that being said, I think dogs are a plus in your layered home defense system.  Just be realistic.   

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dtstein
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Posts: 11
Double/triple pane glass and Shatter resistant window films

We have double pane windows in our sun room. I dont see how one could really benefit from the shatter resistant plastic  films noted here - unless one was resigned to the outer pane getting trashed and the inner pane providing extra security/time during  a burglery or home invasion.   We may have to replace some windows around the house with our upcoming house renovation. Would anyone recommend shatter resistant glass vs the energy savings of double/triple paned glass?Anyone have any further thoughts?  Love to hear them.

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Travlin
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Regarding non-lethal weapons

The question is how far are you willing to go to protect your family and yourself from predators?  How do you balance the potential loss of their lives against a desire not to respond with violence when attacked?  Only you can decide.  I found the following remark at another website.  It is worth pondering. 

Anonymous wrote:

One of the last things I’d ever want to do is shoot someone in my own home. But the very last thing I’d ever want to do is wish I had.

Travlin 

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MarkM
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Head of nail

Travlin wrote:

The question is how far are you willing to go to protect your family and yourself from predators?  How do you balance the potential loss of their lives against a desire not to respond with violence when attacked?  Only you can decide.  I found the following remark at another website.  It is worth pondering. 

Anonymous wrote:

One of the last things I’d ever want to do is shoot someone in my own home. But the very last thing I’d ever want to do is wish I had.

Travlin 

Nail struck squarely on head.

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sheryl909
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Posts: 10
two words: Petit family

I grew up with shot guns and rifles in the house.  No big thing....  they were for hunting...  we were taught how to use them...  not to even touch one unless you knew where the safety was and that it was on.  Everyone I knew in our community took gun safety courses...  it was all just a given.

Seems like a different world out there today and getting worse every minute. 

My husband in an avid hunter...  meat on the table.  I don't hunt, but will be spending the summer making time for target practice and refreshing my knowledge and weapons skills.

I have nightmares about this poor family-- the Petit's.  I echo the sentiments of those who say, "I don't want to ever have to shoot and kill someone," but neither do I want to put myself or our children at risk because I didn't want to consider the possible alternative.

Links to Petit murders:

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20425841,00.html

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/petit_family/index.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20017372-504083.html

Faced with folks like these, I will aim to put a hole through them and have no regrets.

That said, and I know I am preaching to the choir here, but never keep weapons or ammo where children have any chance of getting ahold of them.

We had a case in the past year of a 5-year-old boy killing is younger brother with a leatherman tool.  A beautiful family, husband is a fireman, wife is a nurse...   boys just horsing around, getting ahold of something they shouldn't, and a tragic accident.

Be safe all.

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afriend2u1
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Posts: 1
Dog

You failed to mention a dog as a crime deterent. Not fool proof, but a nice addition to any defense system.

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Doug
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Posts: 2754
Dogs

If you're going to consider dogs as a security measure, please consider the strict training and dog control necessary to make that a viable option.  I love dogs and have had them most of my life.  Along the way I've learned some lessons that dog owners should know.

One of the lessons is that German Shepherds bite more people than any other breed.  They are great family dogs, but instinctively distrust anyone outside the family.  This puts a special burden on the owner to rigorously train the animals to know when to attack and when not, and to strictly control the dog.  That means keeping the dog confined or on a sturdy leash at ALL times.

I have been bitten three times in my life, twice were by german shepards, the other by one of those little yappy things, and none were on the owners' properties.  I have been threatened by other dogs, including german shepherds, a doberman and a pit bull, at other times, particularly when bike riding and running, but have been able to avoid being bitten by them.

This issue is of particular consequence to me now because a neighbor has a german shepherd that has attacked my dog twice on our property while he was tied up, nipped my wife once when she was on the road between our houses and threatened me on the same road.  I have reported the dog to the local dog control official.  She is diligent with her responsibilities, but can't be everywhere all the time.  The neighbor has learned to control the dog much more strictly now and we haven't had a problem for a while.

I have zero tolerance for bad dogs and will take whatever measures are necessary, up to and including killing them, if I or my family is threatened.  I understand that the term 'bad dog' should be 'bad owner' instead, but my options are more limited when it comes to people.  Unfortunately, their dogs will suffer the consequence of their (owners') negligence.  And remember, when you invite people onto your property, you are responsible for your dog's behavior toward the guest.

Doug

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joemanc
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Posts: 834
Keep backup locks

My front door lock busted the other night. It's only 4 months old and the deadbolt is shot. You'd think these things last a while, like say, a few years, before wearing out, but nooooooooooooo....will be getting some backup locks this weekend at Home Depot.

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capesurvivor
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Posts: 943
burglary

Wow,

Just saw the Boynton Beach burglary..hit home...my parents live there. My father and I have discussed his getting a gun but have been leaning against it because of age and some impairment. Those look like "juvies" ...under 17, slap on the wrist time. I see these kids all the time at the mental health clinic. Reserve the cells in the county jail or regional prison. I hate to be cynical but the reality is...bad preteens become bad teens become bad adults. Looks like they had a crowbar...what if homeowner came home during invasion? What if armed/vs. not armed? Lots of variables  here.

CS

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nestor_andreu
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Posts: 7
Countryside fortress?

Hi all,

Probably many of you have already read this, since it is almost three years old and in a web site that I'm sure many of you know. But anyway, I just came across this post and thought that you might find interesting to read it. Since I could be this flatlander the author talks about, I found it very educating.

Just let's hope we never end in a Mad Max-like scenario that forces people to leave cities, like in de middle ages. 

Néstor

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Travlin
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Posts: 1322
nestor_andreu wrote: Hi

nestor_andreu wrote:

Hi all,

Probably many of you have already read this, since it is almost three years old and in a web site that I'm sure many of you know. But anyway, I just came across this post and thought that you might find interesting to read it. Since I could be this flatlander the author talks about, I found it very educating.

Just let's hope we never end in a Mad Max-like scenario that forces people to leave cities, like in de middle ages. 

Néstor

Nestor

I'm curious to know more.  How about a link?

Travlin 

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nestor_andreu
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Posts: 7
Ooops

Ehem, sorry, I forgot to paste the link... http://www.oftwominds.com/blogjun08/survival6-08.html

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Travlin
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Posts: 1322
He's right

The link is right on.  I have a lot of "hicks" in my family history and this assessment is very accurate.  This is why Chris emphasizes the importance of community.  It is the same message.  It is not fool proof though.  It takes a long time to be accepted, and there are bad apples everywhere.

Travlin 

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thc0655
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Posts: 606
Home invasion

Check out this home invasion story from South Bend, IN.   http://advancedsurvivalguide.com/?p=3817

Note in this home invasion story some of the usual dynamics are found again:

1.  The entry was through the front door, and it was not in the least difficult.  Quick, easy, quiet.  Your goal is to make it the opposite: slow, difficult (preferrably requiring tools) and loud.

2.  Multiple, armed invaders.

3.  Occupants caught completely off-guard, had no time to respond (but had no plan anyway).

4.  Without a decent plan, the man of the house reacted impulsively and attacked the invaders with a skillet, getting shot in the process.

Judging by the television news story, I conclude the home invaders were targeting the previous occupants of the home (who themselves had frequent calls to the house for police, and may have kept illegally gotten money and drugs in the home).  The current occupants who were victimized had only lived there a short time and seemed to be average, law-abiding people.  As I said in this post, it happens more than you might think that home invaders pick the wrong house or are completely wrong about the expected payoff in that their targets don't have the valuables the robbers think they do.  If it were me, before buying or renting a new place, I'd ask the local police about the history of the previous occupants.  They can only give you general information, but if you had asked about this place I doubt you would've moved in.  It's not rocket science.

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thc0655
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Posts: 606
Ferfal on rural/urban advantages

Ferfal weighs in again on the comparative advantages of being in a rural or urban situation when the SHTF (www.ferfal.blogspot.com).  You have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself, but it is NOT the case that rural situations are obviously better than urban ones when crime explodes.  It's NOT obvious that rural is better, and it may not even be true.  If we ever get to the point where armed, well-prepared gangs of criminals target rural homes and businesses, those who are targeted will find defense extremely challenging.

Home Invasion: Country vs. City after the Economic Collapse

 

This is one of those recurrent topics and I receive email asking about this very often.
Where will I fare better? What’s the safest place to be in as everything goes down?

Those of you that have been reading my blog for a while know where I stand. I don’t think an isolated homestead or farm is the best place to be in, and it certainly isn’t when crime becomes a real problem all across the country. In people’s minds, in their novels and fantasies thing may always work out just the way they want. It also helps that none of the things speculated in these fictional scenarios have ever occurred, at least not yet. A person can be so easily fooled into thinking that his retreat or homestead in any given US state is safe from looters and criminals because this or that “expert” claims so, the real reason why it´s been working well for any given period of time is that you’ve never actually had it put to test by your environment. Argentina puts you to test and that’s where suppositions, theories and wishful thinking crash against the cold hard reality.

The reason I’m revising this topic is because a friend of mine suffered an attack to his farm in just a couple days ago. He’s smart, successful, experienced, and a true survivalist in my opinion. You might remember the home invasion attempt my dentist suffered a while back. This friend of mine wasn’t that lucky. During the afternoon five men approached the housekeeper’s home and took the family hostage. Dogs barked but they moved fast. They used ski masks and gloves, armed of course, communicated with radio and were very professional. Right after reducing the housekeepers they quickly moved to the main building and took control of the main house. My friend wasn’t there with his wife and kids, it was occupied by other family members that where visiting. Being the smart person he is, that’s not his main residence and prefers to live in a gated community. As found on Wikipedia:

Since Buenos Aires has been traditionally regarded as a socially integrated city, gated communities have been the object of research by sociologists. Gated communities are an important way through which people – particularly middle and upper classes – cope with the high levels of violent criminal activity in Greater Buenos Aires.[9]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gated_community#United_States
The home invaders went after the usual, money and jewelry. They also took his guns, gear, Bug out Bag among other items. On the bright side no one was hurt and that’s at least some good news. He wasn’t there at the time this happened and given the level of professionalism, I’d say they studied his movements for some time and waited until he left.

Guys, we’re talking about a place that had people living in it, a family dedicated to keeping an eye on the place, and a dozen workers doing various jobs all across the estate. Unless you have dedicated security, all day long, all year long, its impossible to defend such a place. I’m not talking about your friend Joe coming over “when SHTF” or the guy next door pulling security. The guy next door will have to travel to Denver next week because of his job and uncle Joe will get bored of doing this after a couple weeks, or his wife will divorce him, moving to California with her new boyfriend and Joe following so as to at least be able to see his kids on weekends. That’s life. Counting on less than professional hired security for this on a long term basis is as serious as playing fort with your kid, shooting at each other with Nerf guns.

Please do your research. Moving your family to a retreat in the sticks because its safer than cities would be a huge mistake, especially if that decision if ever put to test by real widespread high crime or anarchy events. Its not only Argentina. Look at Mexican retreats in druglord land across the American border, look at most South American countries with high levels of violent crime. Study South Africa’s white farmers and how they fared, even with hardened homes and hiring round the clock armed guards. Look at Bosnian farms and isolated houses during the beginning of the war, there’s lessons to be learned in all these scenarios and its historic, so you’re not basing your family’s well being on someone’s suppositions or fantasies, but on experience. Whatever decision you make regarding where you live, at least be honest with yourself and do it for the right reasons.

A quick Pro and Con list for rural vs city would be:

Pro:
*Healthier lifestyle, fresh air, contact with nature. The calm, low stress lifestyle is one of the greatest advantages in my opinion.
*More space for your projects, gardening and raising live stock.
*Less likely to suffer opportunistic theft or vandalism incidents.
*Having your own firearm shooting range in your back yard means you can practice more, though defensive training should be done with other people in a more competitive environment so as to increase the stress factor and be objective regarding your skills in comparison to others.
*In a pandemic scenario, you’re safer if the disease is spread by contact with humans.

Cons:
*Unless you’re self-employed in a line of work that makes no difference where you’re located, you’ll have less job opportunities. In many cases, job offers may be non-existent.
*Greater distance from hospitals. When needing immediate medical attention every second counts. The further away you are from advanced medical assistance your chances of survival are likewise reduced. This is an important factor, especially as you grow older.
*You are further away from schools. While some people homeschool, during an economic down turn every family member will have to bring an income so as to sustain the family and homeschool may not be viable. Though some may not admit it to themselves, not all parents are skilled teachers either.
*In a pandemic scenario, you’re much more exposed to diseases transmitted by animals (dengue, for example) since the fumigation and pest control efforts will be concentrated on the most populated areas.
*If you have a job in a nearby city, chances are your commuting distance is now greater and you are more exposed to fluctuation of gas prices.
*In terms of security, while you avoid certain types of crime, your isolation and lack of neighbors also means criminals can be more bold, spend more time during home invasions without fear of being detected and help arriving any time soon. The homestead will also have more appealing loot than an average downtown or suburban home, and the risk of getting caught while perpetrating the crime is also less, with less witnesses and cameras compromising the operation.
FerFAL

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thc0655
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Posts: 606
Welcome summerdavidson

Hi,

I see you just joined and this is your first post.  Welcome to the community!

1.  No, I would strongly suggest you come up with a plan for all conceivable situations in advance.  People confronted by criminals often do things that surprise even themselves, and things they wish they had done differently (or not at all).  Plan out your actions. Write them down.  Rehearse it in your mind often.  Practice anything that can be physically practiced (self-defense skills with or without weapons, accessing a hidden key, barricading a door, climbing out a second floor window onto a first floor roof to escape a fire or criminal, etc).  The safest and wisest thing to do when you think an intruder is/might be in the apartment with you is to get outside and call 9-1-1.  The same is true if you return home and have reasons to think somebody is in your place -- don't go in to confirm it, but call 9-1-1 from outside.   Of course, running out and calling 9-1-1 is not so easy when the suspicious noise is between you and the only door out.  Plan escapes from various places where you might find yourself inside considering the various places an intruder might be.  Plan rooms and places to barricade yourself inside while dialing 9-1-1.  The bathroom or bedroom might be your best place to retreat so plan how you'll keep the intruder from getting through that flimsy interior door while calling for help.  (If you think exterior doors are surprisingly easy to break in, you ought to see most "modern" interior doors! I've seen people punch through doors and kids break them off a hinge or two while simply playing.)  Where's your phone going to be? Do you have something always close at hand to barricade the door. (Whatever it is should be reachable and deployable while you're holding the door closed. If you and the intruder are pushing on opposite sides of the door you can't let go of the door to slide the dresser in front of it.)  Are there any potential weapons in that room you're going to barricade yourself inside of?  I always carry a gun and my cell phone (and a few other small items) inside or outside the house until I lay down to sleep.  That's when I charge my phone on the stand next to the bed and place my gun there too (on a separate level, and always in the same two places so I'll know exactly where each is in an emergency, in the dark).  You may or may not carry a gun, but even if you don't you probably carry a cell phone -- so keep it on your person at all times. You'll be very disappointed in yourself if you find yourself leaning against the bedroom door trying to keep intruders from getting to you and then realize you can't call for help because your cell phone is somewhere on the other side of the door with the intruders!  Why not place a baseball bat just inside your bedroom door and/or your bathroom door -- just in case? Plan it out.  And be realistic how long you'll have to wait until help comes.  It will not be measured in seconds.  It'll be 5-30 minutes.  Make sure you plan to hold out that long.

2.  If your income is limited, your apt is modest and you don't use or sell drugs, you're very unlikely to be targeted by well-prepared and armed home invaders.  This reduces the number and intensity of threats you will likely face.  On the other hand, I find "Ease of entry" and "Convenience to the burglar" to be more powerful determinants of whose house/apt gets broken in to than "number of valuables" to be stolen.  This is why more residences in poor, high crime neighborhoods get burglarized than in middle class, low crime neighborhoods.  (Most burglars live in poor, high crime neighborhoods and victimize their neighbors because it's easy and familiar, not the wealthier people 3 miles away where there's more valuables and money to steal.)  So, not being wealthy helps, but making your place clearly not easy to get into and out of without detection and apprehension is MORE important.  One of the concepts for you to keep in mind is that the people who are most likely to break into your apartment are your neighbors in the other apartments in your building, so keep an eye on them (they're certainly keeping an eye on you!).  Plan to make their burglary as unprofitable as possible.  Imagine them kicking in your door after they see you leave and spending 90 seconds in your place stealing stuff.  Hide your valuables, even from people you invite into your apartment.  Rig a battery operated alarm to sound 15 seconds after the door is opened (unless you deactivate it). And let the alarm go off "accidentally" every now and then, and sound for a few seconds so your neighbors will know they'll have to deal with that if they break in. Always be alert and vigilant for people watching you or testing your defenses and awareness level.  Potential burglars base part of their calculation about breaking into your place by observing YOU -- if you are careful and alert, they'll notice and assume your apartment has been set up to thwart crime in a careful and prepared manner.

3.  Defending you and your home while you're home is much easier than equipping it to defend itself in your absence.  For instance, you can buy or make (for less than $50) a brace  or "Katy bar" to place against the inside of your exterior door(s) to make kicking it in difficult, slow and loud.  I have two Katy bars on one of my exterior doors - I got the four steel braces at a hardware store for less than $7.00, some 3" screws for $2.50 and the wood was scrap.  You can buy cheap battery-powered alarm devices that sound if a motion detector picks up motion or a window or door is moved.  These devices aren't connected to a monitoring company that calls the police, but the noise they make will give you a warning if you're home and, even if you're not home, they would probably be enough to scare away most burglars and cause the others to rush through your place looking for something quick and easy to take (rather than methodically tearing your place apart until they find your most valuables).  Even if you're absolutely flat broke, you can rig your doors and windows with common household items to make noise during an unauthorized entry attempt.  In the movie "Conspiracy Theory" Mel Gibson's paranoid cab driver character balances a glass soda bottle on top of the door knob on the inside of his apartment door.  When intruders come looking for him, they turn the door knob causing the glass bottle to fall to the floor and shatter.  The sound gives him a warning even though he's in a different room and gives him time to respond.  You don't have to be paranoid and schizophrenic to come up with ideas like that -- just determined to find a solution, creative and broke!

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