Friday, June 15, 2018

Thugs in the Driveway? HOME INVADERS?

The Saturday before Mother’s Day I exited my house through the garage to do quick chore in the back yard—leaving the garage door open and the door from the garage to the house unlocked. As I was working, a decrepit white van with two men in it suddenly pulled into my drive way and one of the men jumped out and ran to the rear of the van. HOME INVADERS!!!???

I drew my pistol and sprinted to the back door (it was locked, but I always carry a house key when I am outside
I was accidentally locked out once) and went inside, yelling for everyone to go to the safe room while I covered the door from my workroom into the kitchen. This was the door someone coming into the house from the garage would have to use.

As my wife was calling 911, I heard the van backing out of the driveway and starting up the street. I re-holstered my pistol, grabbed my house gun (not a pistol) and cautiously cleared the workroom. I then cleared the garage wondering what the van occupants had been doing. I then noticed a large box of flowers on the trash can in the garage—they had been delivering Mother’s Day flowers
and . . . left them on a trash can in the garage?

Even though the delivery team’s behavior probably wasn’t the best approach, in this instance there was no malicious intent. Although there was another barrier between me and the workroom, needless to say I was not pleased that I had left the door to the garage unlocked. So how do you prevent this?

One step is pretty obvious: LOCK YOUR DOORS! I did not do so in this instance as I intended to reenter the house through the garage a short time later—my failure. Get into the habit of locking exterior doors if they are going to be unattended when you are outside your home.

But I live in a good neighborhood you say? Well so do I—many of us live in neighborhoods we would characterize as safe. I live in a gated community; however, that did not stop someone that looked and acted like a home invader from showing up in my driveway.

In Texas, using force against an intruder who you know or have reason to believe was unlawfully and with force entering or attempting to enter unlawfully and with force your occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment is presumed reasonable under certain circumstances (if you live in another state your results may vary).* Therefore, in the circumstances I was facing I intended to wait to and see if the intruder was going to attempt to breach the door from the workroom into the kitchen and respond accordingly from a cover position.

If someone does manage to defeat your door and enters your home, responding from a cover position increases your chances of survival and builds the foundation of “reasonableness” for your actions. I am not a fan of leaving your home to confront intruders. Exiting your home and confronting a possible intruder outside increases your physical risk and may negate the presumption of reasonableness for your actions. The only reason I did so in this instance was because the van had departed presumably taking all the occupants with it.

Everyone should think through scenarios such as this now and develop a plan based on your particular circumstances. In my house, someone yelling “SAFE ROOM!” is giving the command for everyone to instantly stop what they are doing and go to a secure bedroom. A reinforced bedroom door provides a safe room you can retreat to if you are in another part of the house when someone attempts to break and enter. From there you can call 911 and prepare to take other necessary action.

Another step is to reinforce your exterior and (if possible) interior doors. Take a quick look at this video
. That is how easy it is to kick in a normally constructed residential exterior door. So how do you prevent someone from kicking in your door?

One solution is heavy metal doors similar to those in the picture. No human could kick in this steel door. For exterior wooden doors, I personally used the Strikemaster II Pro to reinforce the door jam and hinges. I did this as the house was being built and asked the builder to install them so it was relatively painless. 

Similar products are the Door Armor Max (formerly EZ Armor) that Armor Concepts produces and Door Security Pro. There are probably others on the market that perform a similar function. As I look at product reviews however, it is clear that some people find the simple install is not quite so simple so your results may vary. You can purchase these products from a variety of vendors. 

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