With home invasions on the rise, there really is no such thing as a safe neighborhood anymore. Yes, some neighborhoods may have less crime than others, but home invasions can and do happen anywhere and at anytime. Women who live alone are particularly vulnerable, as criminals who perpetrate home invasions tend to be violent and are usually not there to simply rob their victims. Many want to terrorize and hurt or kill their home invasion victims.
Unfortunately, victims of home invasions fall prey to the same ploys of these criminals. A stranger knocks on your front door or rings your doorbell, and you simply open the door to see who’s there. Or you leave a window or exterior door unlocked or open because nothing bad has ever happened before when doing so.
Women who live alone are particularly vulnerable, as criminals who perpetrate home invasions tend to be violent and are usually not there simply to rob their victims.
There are many instances where an intruder simply walked into a home through an open garage door or an unlocked patio sliding glass door or window and then entered the master bedroom to attack, rape and/or murder the homeowner or resident while they were sleeping. Often times, it really boils down to a misplaced belief that home invasions don’t happen in good neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, home invasions do happen in “good” neighborhoods. Here are just a few examples: Savopoulos family and their housekeeper who were tortured and brutally murdered in their Washington DC mansion in the middle of the day!
Here is another incident where an elderly lawyer and his wife, a federal judge, were victims of a home invasion at their 27,000 square foot $8 million mansion on 5 acres in Ohio.
Here is another violent home invasion that took place in a nice NJ suburb.
Unfortunately, like so many other home invasions, these incidents could have possibly been prevented if only certain precautions had been taken.
Especially if you are a renter, the Flip Guard can prevent an unauthorized visit from your superintendent or landlord using a Master Key.
12 Tips to Protect Against a Home Invasion.
Don’t Open Your Door To Strangers.
NEVER, EVER, open your door to a stranger for any reason. Some criminals will pretend to need help (i.e. claim that he or she needs to use your phone) or pose as law enforcement, a utility worker, HOA community manager, etc. Do NOT OPEN THE DOOR. If a stranger legitimately needs help, you can call 911 for them WHILE KEEPING YOUR DOOR CLOSED AND LOCKED. If your doorbell rings and you are expecting a delivery or a friend or family member, look at your home surveillance app (if you have a Ring or other cameras), or through a peephole or window FIRST, then, wait until the delivery person leaves, before opening your door to retrieve your package. Make sure all friends, family and housekeepers follow this rule. Also keep in mind, that some criminals will “pose” as a delivery person. That is why it is important to wait until AFTER the delivery person leaves the package by your exterior door, AND leaves your property, before you open the door to retrieve your package. If the delivery person is a criminal, they will not leave a package when no one answers the door.
Strengthen all Exterior Doors.
Make sure all exterior doors are solid core without any windows or glass, use quality deadbolts and use 3 1/2” or longer screws for your hinges and strike plates making sure they are fastened into the studs.
Lock all Exterior Doors and Windows
This one sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to lock or simply choose not to lock their exterior doors and windows. Be sure to lock all of your windows and exterior doors, even windows and french or sliding glass doors to a second floor room as a determined home intruder can use a ladder to access the second floor. An unlocked door or window is one of the most common ways an intruder will enter a home, especially through an open or unlocked front door, back sliding glass door, bathroom or basement window. Let’s change that.
Reinforce Your Master Bedroom, Bathroom & Closet Doors.
Have a solid core door for your master bedroom, closet and bathroom (if you have a separate bathroom door) with a quality deadbolt and use 3 1/2″ or longer screws for hinges and strike plates/door jambs. For additional protection against forced entry, consider reinforcing your door jamb with a product such as the Door Armor Dormitory Jamb shield which is a 40″ long jamb shield that is made specifically for a 1-3/8″ thick interior door frame.
Should someone break into your home while you’re sleeping, the last thing an intruder will expect is a locked master bedroom with a solid core door and deadbolt. This can buy you some precious time to wake up and get ready to implement your home defense plan.
Secure Your Deadbolt Locks.
Protect your deadbolt locks from bumping, picking or unauthorized entry using a device such as the Flip Guard. The Flip Guard is an inexpensive device (about $19 as of today from Home Depot online only) which prevents your deadbolt knob from being turned to unlock it even when using the key that came with the lock, but can only be used while you are inside your home. Especially if you are a renter, the Flip Guard can prevent an unauthorized visit from your superintendent or landlord using a Master Key WHILE YOU ARE HOME (i.e. you are in the shower, in bed, etc.). Here’s one guy’s story of an unauthorized visit from his landlord.
Keep Your Master Bedroom & Bathroom Doors Locked When in Use.
When you are home alone in your master bedroom (sleeping) or bathroom (taking a shower) even during the day, LOCK THE DOOR (preferably with a deadbolt) and have your emergency cell phone and gun within reach. If you don’t have a deadbolt lock on your master bedroom door or bathroom, install one (see #4 above).
Consider Arming Yourself with a Gun.
The ability to effectively stop the threat of serious injury or death resulting from a violent intruder is important since the police will usually not arrive in time to save you and your loved ones. Hence the old saying “when seconds count, police are minutes away.” Having a firearm and training regularly with it can be a viable option. If you do have a firearm, carry it on your person even when you are home. Having your gun stored in another room will not do you any good if you are confronted by an intruder and don’t have immediate access to it. Remember, when seconds count, police are minutes away. That means you’ll be on your own until the police arrive.
Night lights in your master bedroom, bathroom and closet can help you should you awake in the middle of the night to a home invasion, you will be able to see without needing to turn on your standard bedroom lights. Standard bedroom lights require time for your eyes adjust to their intensity, costing you precious time needed to get ready. You may need to cover your night lights with some blue painter’s tape or electrical tape to mute the lighting even more to ensure that your eyes will not need to adjust while providing enough light to see. It also keeps your master bedroom dark to your intruders, should they enter your master bedroom.
Gun Mounted Light.
If you do have a gun, you may not want to use a gun mounted light. Should an intruder break through your master bedroom door before police arrive, you will give him a target to shoot at. Instead, consider getting a musician’s microphone stand, and mount/insert a powerful (600+ Lumen) LED flashlight in it (you may need to use duct tape to secure it to the stand’s mount) and position it several feet or more away from your cover position. Then point the mic stand light towards your bedroom door. During a middle-of-the night home invasion, you will turn on that mic stand light so it shines a blinding light straight at the intruder. So if an intruder does react by shooting, he will likely shoot at the blinding light (because he thinks a person is holding that light), and bullets should not fly in your direction as the light will be positioned far away from you. It will also light up the intruder so you can light him up with a few rounds from your cover position.
Have a Plan.
Ask yourself if a home invasion was to occur, what would you do? How could you protect yourself and your loved ones? Knowing where to go, such as a designated safe room, and what to do so you won’t need to figure that out during a home invasion.
When you hear an unexpected loud noise such as a boom, crash or the sound of glass shattering, at any time of day (but particularly in the middle of the night), DO NOT GO TO INVESTIGATE IT. Go immediately to your safe room with your loved ones (or remain there if you are already in your safe room…i.e. your master bedroom). NEVER leave your safe room to confront a potential intruder, even if you have a gun. To do so can risk your life and the lives of those you love inside your home. If you are not expecting guests or family, you need not attempt to ask the intruder who they are, what they want, why they are in your home, etc. Stay in your safe room behind protective cover, call 911 and wait there with your weapon until the police arrive. If anything, let the intruder come to you not knowing what to expect. If you have a firearm and are well trained to use it, the intruder will risk his life coming to you.
Have a Phone to Call 911.
We use a simple flip phone as our emergency phone, that way, there is no fumbling with unlocking a smart phone or remembering to press side buttons on your iPhone to bring up the Emergency SOS button. Remember, when under extreme stress (i.e. from a home invasion) your fine motor skills may likely be degraded to a point where seemingly simple tasks may no longer be possible to execute.
If you use a firearm for home defense, here are a few additional tips to help prepare for a middle-of-the-night home invasion (assuming you lock your solid core bedroom door to prevent unauthorized access to your firearm):
- Always confirm that your bedroom door is locked at night before you go to sleep.
- Keep ear protection, eye glasses (if you need them) and your firearm near your bed at night. Gun shots are loud and can damage your hearing without ear protection, especially in a small enclosed space such as a bedroom.
- Keep your gun holstered at all times to prevent an accidental discharge. You may want to consider using a belt with an OWB kydex holster to strap to the leg of your nightstand (if your nightstand has legs on it), so that you can quickly and safely draw from it should a middle-of-the-night home invasion occur.
- Always exercise good trigger discipline…keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
- If you have a significant other with whom you share your bedroom, designate that person to call 911 in a home invasion. Make sure that person has a reliable, fully-charged cell phone and ear protection (an ear plug for the ear that is not pressed against the cell phone receiver). If possible, your significant other can be in a separate adjoining room within your master bedroom, such as a master bathroom or master closet.