I recently asked a friend of mine, who has broken into hundreds of homes, if there was anything I could do to keep him out of my house. “Not a chance,” he answered.
No, I don’t associate with criminals. My friend is the breacher (the entry man) for a state police SWAT team.
Realizing I can’t fully prevent criminals from getting into my house, I decided to develop a layered defense strategy to at least slow them down, which in itself may be enough to deter someone. The layers make it harder for them to get in and they give me ample warning when I’m home.
Starting from the outside in, let’s look at some ideas you might use to develop a layered defense.
This is your first layer and might include shrubbery, fencing, walls and gates. Infrared driveway and perimeter alarms can be set up to warn you if someone crosses the perimeter. I have one set across the driveway behind the gate. Your perimeter can serve as a barrier, or a warning that someone is approaching, or both, as well as act as a deterrent to entry.
Do you have a K-9 sensor? Whether outside or in the home, a dog can provide an early warning. The dog need not be vicious; it just needs to use its finely tuned senses, then bark. That may be all it takes to make a potential intruder reconsider.
The next layer is your home itself. Depending on where you live and your level of threat, the house can be a barred fortress, or you can use more passive security, such as opening lines of sight around the perimeter and denying hiding places. Solid doors and good locks won’t do you any good if your hinges are secured by the tiny screws normally used in construction. Replace them with longer screws that go deep into the frame and consider installing security hinges. There are dozens of wedges, bars, chains and the like that you can add to secure a door with the objectives of slowing an intruder down and forcing them to make a lot of noise.
Another friend of mine built a home and wired it so every light on the perimeter and in the house, except in his bedroom, could be activated by one switch by his bed. While you might not be able to rewire your house, you can add motion-activated perimeter lighting. Alarms and camera systems, including doorbells that send alerts to your phone and stream real-time video, are inexpensive and easy to install and should be part of any security system. Some of these products include integrated lighting as well.
The Safe Room
Your final layer of defense is a safe room, which will most likely be your master bedroom. This is the place you and your family will “fort up” in the event anyone tries to force entry into the home. Your layered defense will give you warning and time to move to the safe room. Practice, so everyone in the home knows what to do, and make sure to take your cell phone with you—you’re going to need to call 911.
Again, working from the outside in, the safe room should have a sturdy door, lock and hinges to slow down an attacker. Personal defensive firearms in the safe room should be secured in safes or lock boxes that can be quickly accessed when needed. These might be pistols, rifles or shotguns, but in any case, if you need to shoot, they are going to be loud. I suggest keeping sets of electronic hearing protection handy. Slip on your “ears” and you will have the ability to hear bad guys skulking about, while protecting your hearing if you must shoot.
Assuming it’s dark, you must be able to identify a threat before defending yourself and your family. Handheld lights are a must, and weapon-mounted lights on the home-defense guns are a good idea. Use the handheld lights to search and the weapon lights when confronting a deadly threat. Lights producing 200 to 1,000 lumens of focused light can temporarily blind an assailant, or make them close their eyes or look away, and any of these reactions will stop them in their tracks.
Take a look at your surroundings, consider a layered system of security and, above all else, stay alert!