The Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network publishes a monthly “journal” online with news and information for their members. The good news is that the journal is available for everyone and has plenty of good information within.
You really couldn’t do better than to pour yourself your favorite beverage and sit down and read through a few of these journals. If you’ve got a fireplace and it’s cold outside, all the better.
There’s a lot of really good information.
Here’s an excerpt about layering your defenses to protect your residence!
We should learn from the experiences of others and who better to ask about such lessons than retired county sheriff Jim Wilson, who saw and resolved countless instructive situations during his career when called to investigate after homes were broken into. With summer heat tempting folks to open windows and doors to cool down their homes, I thought members would benefit from a reminder that it’s a lot better to prevent a break-in than it is to have a midnight encounter with a burglar, so I asked Wilson for tips on how to increase safety at home.
eJournal: I appreciate the chance to pick your brain about ways to avoid being victims of crime inside our own homes.
Wilson: I think there are two real important things people need to realize. The first is how very dynamic home invasions can be; how quickly they occur. If a person is not prepared, has not done any home improvement or any planning, the door flies open, and those people are in their face immediately and they only have a matter of seconds to react in any manner.
We need to keep in mind how we look to the criminal. We can make a less desirable target with good lighting. I live where we can have both the front and back yards fenced, so I can have a dog out there. The criminal does not need to know that he’s the family pet.
eJournal: You mentioned video, too. In many ways it has never been easier to add precautions like a camera or motion-activated lights. I can remember when wiring those in was really a big job. Now there are solar options for lighting that you just mount on the exterior and anything that walks through the beam activates a surprising splash of light. [Grinning] Of course, that’s going to happen whether the intruder is a raccoon coming to raid the garbage can or a more serious problem.
Wilson: Security lighting has indeed improved a great deal and it is part of home defense. I have a similar problem because of the deer walking by, the raccoon walking by, the javelina walking by so I wouldn’t necessarily have the motion-sensor light. I’ll tell you the lighting option I would have if I designed a home. I would install a master light switch in the master bedroom: one light switch that would turn on every light in the house, including outside, as well.
I do like the idea of good external lights, even though in my case I wouldn’t have the motion sensor. I like having the lights set up so that when I turn them on, I can see all the way around the house by checking different windows.
eJournal: And you’ve accomplished that without having to go outside and be exposed to the unknown threat about which you were concerned.
Wilson: We have to maintain our own individual defenses. Another thing that has always bothered me is that in the average American home the master bedroom is at one end of the house, and the children’s bedrooms will be far on the other end. Of course, we know that is for privacy, but suppose you do have someone get in the house, now you have got to get all the way to the other side of the house to check on or to protect the kids. I do not think that is a really good home design. Now, if you do have a home invasion at nighttime, that design causes you to expose yourself to danger just to check on the rest of your family. We want to minimize that.
eJournal: A home break in while the family sleeps at night is so terrifying that many people can’t even admit the possibility that it could happen to them. Someone who should not be there getting into the house is probably something you got called about a lot during your law enforcement career. How can we be better prepared?
Wilson: It’s a double-edged sword. First, let’s look at it from the citizen’s point. The citizen hears a noise at night and wakes up. If they follow the common advice and call police every time they hear a noise – well, you can see where that is going. The citizen thinks, “I don’t know what that noise was. I had better go look,” and they get into a situation that really does involve a burglar.
From the peace officer’s perspective, it is kind of the same deal. You get people who call in every time they hear a noise either inside or outside, and pretty soon the officers are not taking that real seriously. My solution has always been to have a nice, little house dog that will sure let me know if something is not right.
I recommend that citizens do as little home searching as possible. If you have got to get to the room where the kids are, then you have got to do it, but you want to minimize it. It can go bad in such a hurry, particularly in these violent attacks that we have seen in the news in the past few years. You read about a home invasion where the whole family was murdered. These are just really bad things.
eJournal: Home invasion reports should motivate us to set up both the house, and ourselves, to be less vulnerable. Yes, if possible, that might mean rearranging the room layout as you mentioned, but what about the view from the exterior? What about blinds? I have never been certain which is better: closed, which suggests no one is home, or open, which may show that only a child is home. What do you think?
Wilson: My recommendation, and what I do, is to keep my blinds down. I may open them during the day if I want to let light in, but at night I go through the house and I close the blinds, so you cannot look in. If you keep the blinds down, the bad guys do not have the opportunity to look in to see what is in that room or what is going on in the room.
Make sure that you have got good locks for your doors and for your windows, too. That is not going to keep someone from getting in, but getting in is going to take them longer and that buys you some time to wake up, realize that something is going on, maybe arm yourself, maybe call 9-1-1. It buys some time and that is important.
eJournal: Time to get ready is crucial. Response time to 9-1-1 calls for help varies widely and that is no longer only an issue for rural homes. Whether a patrol officer is going to respond to the call at all is now a legitimate question due to police defunding.
Even in cities, will your call for help be treated as important? Say you return home and the door you are sure you locked before you left is wide open or you find a broken-out window. I am not sure some police agencies are going to send officers to search your house. What is the poor burglary victim supposed to do?
Wilson: Well, if I can, I want the police to come make that check. I would avoid doing a house search if at all possible. Obviously, in some of the metropolitan areas that are having problems with defunding the police, you may not get a police response. In that case, you are going to have to do it yourself. If you do have to do a house search on your own, keep in mind that nobody knows the layout of your house like you do. You are armed and trained. You should be able to reach into a room and turn the light on. Light it up! There is no point to tippy-toeing around in the dark.
If the bad guy hears you, or he sees all of the lights come on and he jumps out the back window and leaves, you just won. I would light it up as I go, I would go very, very slowly, and realizing that nobody knows that house like I do, keep uppermost in mind all of the hiding places that I know.
A house search is not something that I want to do! My first priority is not going to be to get my gun and go do a house search. I would rather have a police officer do it.
The Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network offers member coverage to pay for attorneys and expert witnesses to defend you in the aftermath of a use-of-force incident. They are one of the three self-defense “insurance” groups GSL endorses. Mention GSL and they’ll knock $25 off your first year’s membership.