Holiday Home Invasion: Prevention & Response
There you are playing with your toddler around 8pm in the comfort of your home a few days before Christmas and you’re startled by two loud kicks on the main entry door. Was it neighborhood kids playing a joke or maybe a package being delivered late? The dog is barking and your 2-year-old asks “who is that man mommy?” In a panic you quickly grab your phone and call your husband who is still at work. Now he is on the other end of the line 45 minutes away trying to make sense of and explain the problem with something logical. Without a better answer, he tells his wife to go outside and look around. Unfortunately, every year at this time, innocent victims will be taken advantage of. If you don’t want to become a crime victim during the holidays, then you need to have a plan in place, even for a holiday home invasion. Here are some basic tips to provide you with a starting point.
From the outside, what does someone see?
Generally speaking, a house that looks easier to succeed at a break-in without getting caught will be hit first. During the holiday season while you are out picking up last minute Christmas gifts, others are shopping house to house for the easier ones. Even when you’re not home, it is important to give the appearance that someone is.
Leave the light on for them. If someone is at your front door, make sure they are standing in broad daylight. If they are unable to hide in the shadows, it increases the risk of getting caught. Leave a few lights on internally as well.
The local delivery driver tried to deliver a package while you were away, but nobody was home. Everyone knows this because he left a sticker on the door telling the world as such. After reading it, it is even easier to know how many days you’ve been gone by the number of delivery attempts that were made. Arrange for these sort of tags and any other items like mail or stacking newspapers to be picked up.
Will your neighbors notice?
This time of year, visitors are very common at most homes. Do those who live around you think you’re only having a friend or family member stopping by? If you will be gone over night or for extended vacations, communicate with your neighbors beforehand. If they know you are away, they may be more alert to the random vehicle in the driveway or in front of the home.
Know ahead of time
We don’t always get an early warning, but it is slightly easier while at home. The more time you have to get yourself to safety, the greater the chance you can make a better decision of what action to take. Locking your doors is a starting point, but a modern alarm system can really help. If you have one, use it. If you don’t, consider making the purchase prior to another gun this year.
With a modern alarm, you can have alerts sent to you even when you are away. With a vibration sensor on the door, you can have a text sent when someone is knocking. You can even have an alert sent when your motion light is turned on.
When you are home, a simple driveway alarm can alert you to someone driving in the driveway or walking up the sidewalk.
Don’t place yourself in more danger
With the above true story that happened locally a few days ago, the mother placed herself and child in danger by opening the door and exploring what/who was outside. If you don’t have a plan before hand, you are forced to make it up in a moment of panic when you aren’t really thinking about the plausible circumstances. Luckily for her, it turned out with a positive ending.
The young mother later found out that many houses in her neighborhood had burglaries that night. The homeowners surprised them in at least one instance.
If you are not expecting someone or do not know who is at the door, it would be better not to open it. If you believe someone is attempting to break in to your home, a call to 911 would be appropriate. If someone purposely lured you outside, the outcome will more than likely not be good. I can assure you that your local law enforcement agency would not mind checking things out for you and had the mother in above situation called the police, the burglars may have been caught.
Have a home defense plan
All of the listed pointers help us prevent an encounter with an intruder. In more than a few cases, the above is not enough. If you end up with an intruder inside of the home or trying to force entry, you need to quickly put a plan of action in the works. Get yourself and family far away from the attacker with many barriers in between you and them if possible. Arm yourself with your home defense handgun or something that could be efficiently used if you don’t have one available. From your barricaded location, contact 911 to get help in route.
Even though break-ins may increase during the holiday season, it is not the only time of year where they show a spike. According to the FBI uniform crime report, a burglary happened at a rate of once every 18.2 seconds during 2014. If you don’t have a home defense plan yet, now is the time to sit down with your family and make a plan for events like these.