The Ultimate Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family from a Home Invasion
Dave Young has survived his fair share of violent attacks, including witnessing a home invasion first-hand as a teenager when two burglars broke into his home. Fortunately, his family was okay, but the terrifying experience motivated him to dedicate the rest of his life to helping others survive life’s dangers. Now a seasoned veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and police force, Dave has packed this book with everything he’s seen and learned about home invasions. This life-saving information will turn chilling “what-if ” scenarios into planned strategies to protect your loved ones and belongings from any threat.
Dave uses practical, everyday language to help you view your home from a criminal’s perspective, identify weak spots in your defense and correct them—effectively scratching your home off their target list. He uses real-life examples to teach how to recognize a threat scouting your neighborhood or home. Plus you’ll get detailed instructions on using unconventional weapons of opportunity placed smartly throughout the home and so much more. This book is for everyone—whether you own a firearm or not— because in reality, you can’t depend on a gun to save you in every situation. What will truly keep you safe is a better sense of awareness, the ability to recognize danger and the knowledge of what to do when you can’t avoid it, all of which you’ll learn here. Don’t let another day go by when your family could be at risk—start your proactive family defense strategy today.
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How To Defend Your Family And Home
Outsmart an Invader, Secure your Home, Prevent a Burglary and Protect your Loved Ones from any Threat
By Dave Young, Alex Seise
Page Street Publishing Co.Copyright © 2017 Dave Young
All rights reserved.
UNDERSTAND HOME INVASIONS
On July 5, 2016, Whitney Whiteman and her husband, Gary Howard, went to sleep in their Las Vegas home.
At three o'clock in the morning on July 6, Whitney's eyes fluttered open, her retinas slowly focusing on the barrel of the gun pointed directly at her face.
"Wake up, bitch," a masked man snarled. Wondering if she was still dreaming, Whitney glanced over at Gary and immediately saw that he was tied up. The terrified couple watched helplessly as four assailants rifled through their house, pocketing money and valuables before slipping back outside.
Gary, a Vietnam War veteran, was perfectly capable of defending his family. In fact, I would say he is someone who you could consider an ideal defender. But ripped from sleep by four attackers ready to murder him and his wife, the situation immediately turned dire. Even a veteran with combat experience wouldn't necessarily be ready for that startling wake-up call.
But Whitney and Gary's story is unlike many other home invasion stories: They both survived without sustaining serious injuries. Some people might label their story a miracle or a blessing. But let me tell you, their survival was actually sheer luck right on par with winning the lottery. And that's coming from someone who has decades of experience training civilians how to best survive home invasions.
In 2014, approximately 325,802 robberies occurred in the United States. Of these, 16.8 percent — or nearly 55,000 crimes — occurred in residences.
Home invasions are a lot more common than you might think. Every fifteen seconds a house is burglarized in the United States. In fact, residences consistently rank as the second most common location for a robbery to take place, just after the street. This danger applies across the board to cities large and small, as well as mid-sized municipalities in between.
An estimated 3.7 million household burglaries occurred each year on average from 2003 to 2007 according to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey. No one is immune. Home invasions are blind to characteristics such as race, educational background, religion, gender, financial status and neighborhood. The only thing criminals care about is getting into a home and taking what they want. Because of this, they seek out the easiest targets to make fast, successful hauls that minimize their chances of getting caught.
"But I've already been the victim of a burglary! Statistically, it's very unlikely to ever happen to me again," you might say. You could not be more wrong. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, every year an average of 2 million American homes are targeted for home invasions. However, almost double that number of burglaries occur — 3.8 million, in fact. Simple division means that each targeted house will experience an average of 1.9 burglaries that year. Anecdotally, the trend of multiple burglaries and home invasions occurring aligns with reality. I had my own home broken into twice within a three-year period, even though I'd lived at two different residences during that time.
In addition to the possibility that you might randomly become another perpetrator's target, there is the frightening prospect that the previous home invaders are more likely to return to your property.
This is because attackers become very comfortable with your house after having already been inside. They know your family composition, and they also remember that you unwittingly let them get inside once before. There is a good chance they will return later in the year, usually right after gift-giving holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah and Father's Day. They'll bide their time learning the neighborhood and picking out additional targets.
After all, they are looking for easy targets, and they already know the layout of your home. They also know that you were lackadaisical enough to allow such a crime to happen there before and might still be making the same mistakes.
To combat repeated offenses against your property, upgrade your security system and make it known that you've got new technology on your side with plenty of signs and stickers. Additionally, change your routines to make spying intruders feel uncomfortable. The more unpredictable you are, the less interested they will be. Upgrade your locks and deadbolts with heavy-duty hardware featuring steel pins; switch up your landscaping; and do everything you can to take them out of their comfort zone. Turn the exterior of your house into a "new" house to disorient them and reap the benefits of reduced attack likelihood.
What happens when you and your family become tangled up in a thief's plans — a chilling turn of events that happens in almost 28 percent of all burglaries? Most criminals don't actually want to interact with you; spontaneous crimes such as burglaries or breaking and entering turn violent only after homeowners accidentally walk into an active crime scene. Your presence alone is one of the best deterrents. But once that initial meeting occurs, home invasions can quickly spiral into unspeakable tragedies, with 7 percent of them resulting in a form of violent victimization. In fact, of all assaults reported to law enforcement, 38 percent occurred during a home invasion. And of all reported rapes, 60 percent were linked to break-ins that morphed into home invasions after the criminal discovered someone was home.
Home invasions are considered by authorities to be one of the most dangerous and vicious classifications of crimes, often resulting in mutilation, rape, murder and even the indiscriminate killing of entire families. In 2014, nearly half of all robberies involved the use of a firearm, one of the most lethal weapons readily available to criminals across the United States.
The surest way to survive one of these terrifying ordeals is to be prepared. Learning how these attacks take place, why specific homes are targeted, the types of tactics commonly employed by assailants and your options for fighting or fleeing can help even the odds. Though no one can guarantee survival, the strategies outlined in this book are among the best ways to emerge from a home invasion alive. The old saying applies: If you don't have a plan, you plan to fail!
Defending yourself during a home invasion requires you to make a stark choice. Do you fight or hang back? Your family's well-being is on the line. Family is the core unit of life and one of the most important treasures in the world. Even if you live alone, others need and want you in their lives. Can you do what needs to be done in order to succeed and, by extension, survive?
The answer is simple: you must. There is no other acceptable response.
SCREENED INTO VICTIMHOOD
No matter where you live, your home has probably already been screened by a criminal at one time or another. It's a hard pill to swallow.
Take it from an expert: Home invasions are seldom random acts of violence. They are carefully orchestrated heists designed with utmost efficiency in mind. Criminals treat home invasions with businesslike precision.
Screening is a complex process. It occurs when a criminal (or group of criminals) begin casing a neighborhood in search of their next targets. What makes one home lucrative while others fade out of mind? The answer varies from attacker to attacker, but I have captured some of the main ones here.
Advanced home invaders never just screen a property. Instead, they follow targets, observing their comings and goings, their social media posts and even their work habits. If they begin to detect a pattern of absences, they can plan an optimal strike time.
How do you know if you are being targeted? For starters, watch the happenings in your own neighborhood. Are there strange vehicles parked on the street or slowly driving by? Do you feel like you're being watched when you go to pick up the mail? Does your garbage look like it's been disturbed, almost as though someone opened up the bags and rifled through them?
It sounds disgusting, but garbage cans are one of the greatest sources of information about our lives. They contain discarded junk mail and important papers. They also contain pointers about who lives inside. For example, the presence of feminine hygiene products indicates a young to middle-aged woman, while male razor packaging and discarded empty cologne bottles point toward a masculine presence. Pharmaceutical bottles betray health conditions that may be exploited as weaknesses. Even food wrappers, used cleaning supply containers and magazines speak volumes about a home's occupants. You can't shape your garbage, but you can check your cans one or two times per week to see if anything looks out of order. Always peek under the lid after returning from vacation. Look for loose refuse that may have slipped from the bag. Additionally, make it a habit to shred important papers, credit offers and other documentation before throwing them away. Mix this type of paperwork with used cat litter, coffee grounds and other organic waste to deter criminals. A great way to ruin your sensitive trash is to mix a cup of bleach and half a cup of water, then pour it over checks and other sensitive information after you've shredded it. It will render the ink unreadable and ruin the paper.
It's time for a quick exercise to see just how vulnerable your home really is. Put down this book and go to your front door now. Crack it open and look outside. Count the number of windows, thick trees, shadows and unknown vehicles you spot with your naked eye. Imagine how many sets of eyes could be watching you and your family, observing every single movement you make.
Sometimes, the signs of screening are subtler. Perhaps a neighbor's gardener or service professional has been watching your property out of the corner of their eyes while they go about their work. Or perhaps you've seen the same vaguely familiar face glancing in your direction at several different locations, such as the grocery store, the gas station and the parking lot at work. Maybe the barista who serves you coffee every day before you go to work has taken a seemingly harmless, friendly interest in your affairs, inquiring about your family, vacation plans or work duties.
When screening a house, career criminals also create a profile of the family that lives there. Just think about it from the criminal's perspective. Would you rather attack a family with healthy, fit parents and several strong, teenaged children or a frail elderly couple who lives alone? In this day and age, it's almost too easy for attackers to collect this information. All they need to do is sit outside and watch from a vehicle or simply check out family photos on a social networking site from the comfort of their own home.
Flipping through the mail, trash and recycling provides confirmation of names and statuses. For instance, a house with young children will have a number of toy catalogs arriving via the mail (not to mention countless bikes and yard games scattered around the yard or porch), while houses with older children may receive letters from colleges, teen-themed magazines or trendy advertisements for mall stores. Bills and account correspondence give thieves knowledge of homeowners' service providers, providing a deceptive ruse for them to call or contact you in person while appearing legitimately associated with a reputable service you employ.
Thieves hone in on human targets as well as safeguards. They notice houses bearing the emblems of security systems, but did you know that they also take note of homes with generic, out-of-service or non-local alarm companies? Homeowners caught with fake security system signage instantly alert criminals to your abode's unprotected nature. The same goes for houses that display Beware of Dog signs. To a burglar, those slipups indicate irresistible pickings.
THE MAKINGS OF A GOOD TARGET
Though it may seem logical that attackers would pick the nicest, wealthiest looking home in a neighborhood, that criterion is rarely at the top of their lists. In fact, burglary rates typically drop as household income levels rise, with mobile homes topping the list of the most common targets. Remember that a successful home invasion is one in which the attackers get in, steal quickly and get out without being detected or caught. Frequently, wealthy homeowners invest in advanced security systems and monitoring systems that silently alert authorities, making arrest a very real concern. Stolen goods are worthless when a criminal finds himself sitting in the back of a police cruiser.
Instead, a good target is one where attackers can finish their work as rapidly as possible, regardless of the perceived wealth of the occupants. Unattended homes in minor disrepair — such as those with unkempt lawns and gardens due to vacationing occupants — are prime targets. If it looks like no one is home, then there is a substantial chance that the attackers will not be caught.
Predictable shorter absences, such as homes left unattended during workdays, are also appealing to thieves. If they watch the occupants' children board the school bus every day at 7:45 a.m., followed by the parents driving away at 8:00 a.m. sharp and then they observe them returning home between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., the attackers know there is a window of seven hours in which to break in and ravage the house before anyone will be back. What do they call this type of easy, by-the-book target? A jackpot.
Other appealing features are homes set far away from neighbors and the road, as well as those surrounded by natural hiding places and blind spots like old trees, thick shrubs, utility sheds and tall fences. These obstacles create shadows and make it hard for neighbors and locals to spot an invasion and contact the authorities. Access points are also critical for criminals. Having side and rear doors or windows that cannot be spotted from the road are optimal places for attackers to slide inside unnoticed.
Large, leafy trees make for beautiful landscapes, but they are also cherished by criminals everywhere in the country. A thick branch accessible by climbing from the ground can provide a hidden perch for scoping out a property in near-complete secrecy. The same goes for thick, gnarled trunks that effortlessly hide snooping prowlers.
A few years ago, I conducted a safety assessment in a residential complex. I selected five homes out of the twenty in the neighborhood. One particular home was in the middle of the development, surrounded by large bushes, trees and a fence. As I approached a row of shrubs along the fence between the target house and its neighboring structure, I noticed the sides of the bushes were pulled outward while the fence was pushed in.
I crawled inside the gap, nestling between the bushes and fence. Immediately, my eyes spotted a small floor mat on the ground amid a natural, soft carpet of old pine needles that had clearly not been raked for years. There was a little lump under the mat, and when I lifted it up, I found a small bag containing marijuana blunts, a pouch containing blue Ecstasy pills and a pair of binoculars.
Sitting on the mat, I used the grimy binoculars to peer around — and would you believe it, I could see directly into the master bedroom of the home. The position of the lookout was removed from plain sight due to the poorly maintained bushes, and it gave a full visual of the homeowners' king-sized bed. Additionally, the large floor-to-ceiling mirror positioned by the bed reflected everything happening in the bathroom, including the glass shower. Whoever the perpetrator was, I'd bet he was scoping out a lot more than a robbery. The lady of the house was almost as mortified as her husband was furious.
According to the FBI, 65 percent of burglaries occur between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., with the vast majority occurring between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Summer is the busiest time for break-ins, thanks in part to unlocked windows as well as homeowners taking extended summer vacations. No matter when they plan to strike, getting caught in the act is a huge risk, and the smartest criminals also want to find ways to minimize their chances of being discovered long after they leave. Because of this, they appreciate features such as paved walkways and drives that extend to the asphalt of the street. This helps to dampen noise during the heist while covering footprints and tire tracks, which can be tracked from dirt paths and many types of gravel.
DETERRENTS AND OBSTACLES
Make your home as inaccessible as possible to criminals to improve your chances of avoiding home invasions altogether.
Many years ago, I conducted a training course for several neighborhood watch programs. As we walked through the neighborhood, we saw a middle-aged, well-dressed man walking from home to home. He held a clipboard and, as he approached each house, he would look at the door and front area, scribble down a few notes and walk away.
As we observed from a good way down the block behind a parked car, one of the homeowners exited his house and bumped into this person. The two talked for a few moments before the well-dressed man walked away. The homeowner got into his car and started to drive off, but I flagged him down about a block away. I introduced myself as a law enforcement trainer and explained the training course I was conducting before I asked what the two were discussing. The homeowner said the man introduced himself as a real estate consultant taking a survey of the neighborhood. He asked about the man's home, including the number of occupants residing there, their careers, the age of his kids, how he felt about the local schools and whether he owned or leased the property. The homeowner reported he was polite, calm and very well spoken with a smile that never left his face.
Excerpted from How To Defend Your Family And Home by Dave Young, Alex Seise. Copyright © 2017 Dave Young. Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. UNDERSTAND HOME INVASIONS,
2. PLAN TO SURVIVE,
3. OWN FIRST CONTACT,
4. GUARD SUCCESSFULLY,
5. SHIELD CONTACT,
6. WORK BEYOND LIMITATIONS,
7. IDENTIFY ESCAPES,
8. ENGAGE: PUTTING LIFE OVER DEATH,
9. ARM INTELLIGENTLY,
10. END THE INVASION,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR,