If we are to believe the news, it looks like home invasion is a growing crime. The truth is that it is hard to tell because home invasion is not tracked as a single type of crime. Instead, home invasion may be counted in crime statistics as a count of breaking and entering, with perhaps burglary or assault added in.
For sure, the prospect of a possible armed intruder is pretty scary. This report is the second one I’m aware of in the past couple of months where someone in Maine awoke to find a stranger in their bedroom.
As with any type of crime or emergency, preparation and prevention are keys to avoiding or mitigate potentially horrible results from a home invasion.
The very first thing to take a look at perimeter security:
This is almost common sense but, are your doors and windows locked? Are your external doors hardened with deadbolts, modern bump-proof locks, and more secure strike plates that are screwed 3 inches into the frame? You might look at having safety film installed on first floor windows.
The vast majority of break-ins happen though first floor doors or windows, so securing those is key.
Think about adding an alarm system if you can afford it. A system I like is Frontpoint Security (if you use Referral Code: ef73c and Special Offer Code: R09WELCOME you can get $50 off an initial order). Their system is less expensive than others but is fully wireless, and will work even if a criminal breaks in and smashes your alarm panel to bits.
Look at your outdoor lighting. It’s good to have motion sensing lights near entryways. Also, having shrubbery that can obscure a criminal while he breaks into your home is a bad idea.
Be careful about letting anyone into your home. Some criminals have posed as utility workers, or used ruses like breaking down and needing to use the phone. If a utility worker shows up, ask them to wait outside while you confirm they should be there. If someone claims to need your phone, offer to make a call for them while they wait outside.
Post Perimeter Security:
OK – now what happens if, despite your best efforts, a criminal gets past your perimeter. Even with an alarm going off, the police may be minutes away. You need to have a plan, and evevery person in your family needs to know the plan and you should practice like a fire drill.
Under stress, complex directions can be misunderstood an time lost. Have a safety word that everybody in the family knows is the key to following the plan.
First, you should have a designated safe room. This doesn’t have to be a panic room like in the Jody Foster Movie, but should be a room that locks from the inside and can be somewhat secured. A bathroom can sometimes be a good choice. It would be good if the room’s doorway was not in a direct line to your front or rear door.
You should have access to a phone there – perhaps make it a habit of charging your cellphone there when not on your person. If you have weapons for home defense, you’ll want to have one or more stored there. If you can add a solid core door and a deadbolt – all the better.
When the safe word is given, all family members should go to the saferoom, which would then be locked from the inside while the police are called. If a family member is blocked or can’t get to the saferoom, they may have to get out of the house – run to a neighbors and seek help.
Nothing here is ever meant to serve as legal advice, but if you have a look at Maine Self Defense Laws you’ll see that Maine has a Castle Doctrine law which allows the use of deadly force to prevent or terminate a criminal trespass under certain circumstances. You should familiarize yourself with the conditions under which you can use deadly force to protect yourself, your home, and your loved ones.