CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Home invasions have been in the news lately. And to no surprise, there's been a lot of violence demonstrated in these acts. A home invasion is one of the most personal crimes that a victim can experience because it happens inside your home. After all, it is your haven and our sanctuary. Not to mention the follow-on actions of the perpetrator that you may have to endure once they have accessed your residence.
It also takes a uniquely heinous criminal to perpetrate these acts since illegally entering someone's home, has an extreme risk associated with it. Especially in North and South Carolina as both recognize the Castle Doctrine, essentially stating that a person located in their residence can utilize deadly force to protect themselves inside their home from a threat that they reasonably believe could cause death or great bodily injury to themselves or another person inside the home. As such, a criminal home invader has no idea what they are walking in to, immediately placing them in a very precarious situation.
With numerous home invasions recently occurring in our local area, how can we prevent such acts? Like most things having to do with crime prevention, it all begins with preparation. Preparation starting from the edge of your property line, and working inward toward your home.
To begin with, outdoor lighting is vital and second only to a barking dog in preventing residential crime.
You will notice that during the hours of darkness, your lighting shines toward the ground in a cone shape. Ensure that these "cones" of light overlap each other to provide evenly placed lighting across the perimeter of your property or exterior of your home.
Next, consider your landscaping. No criminal that I've ever dealt with wants to go head-to-head with a decorative bush covered with thorns. For most criminals, it's just easier to move on to the next home that has inadequate and easy to access landscaping. Also, note the height of the landscaping around your windows. Hedges should never extend above the bottom of the window because your view looking out is blocked and it makes it easy for criminals to hide in an overgrown hedge line close to your home.
Pay attention to the quality of your windows and window locks. They should be kept in good condition and able to securely lock.
Now, on to the door. See those long, decorative side light windows beside your door? You know, the ones that a criminal can break and easily reach in and unlock your door. Those can be perfect invitations for criminals to enter your home. Either replace them with a solid wall or reinforce them with a variety of laminates or stronger glass. Also, ensure that your door lock and hinges are in good condition. Consider having a solid core door installed. One of the most effective methods I've seen to secure your door are those white colored poles that have a flat rubber pad on the bottom and a rubber yoke on the other end to place under the door handle. This pole is adjustable for the various heights of your doors. These are so effective when you put them in place, that the door literally has to be destroyed to gain entry. You can obtain these poles from most hardware stores for under $30.00.
Your door should also have a peephole in the door. One for you as an adult, and if you have smaller children in the house, have a lower one placed in the door for them to use as well. Peepholes are no good unless you use them.
Do not open your door to strangers, even if you feel you can block the door with your foot or knee or if your dog is standing there with you, and never depend upon those common door chain locks to provide any type of security. Both these methods of securing a door have been defeated on numerous occasions by both armed and unarmed criminals.
As for the interior of your home, I recommend a monitored alarm system. And if you do utilize a monitored alarm system, have a keychain panic button available to you both in your living room (by your favorite chair) and next to your bed. Through the use of these panic buttons, you will not have to make your way to the alarm control panel to activate the alarm should you be attacked. Also, consider having a fire extinguisher available to defend yourself in the event of an attack. If you are in the right position, it can be used to strike an attacker or when activated, the white non-toxic powder will effectively block both the vision and respiration of an attacker.
If you have guns in your home, that's a personal choice. But if you do, here are a couple of recommendations. Make sure that you are trained on the use of those guns and ensure that they are locked so children cannot get access to them.
Should a criminal enter your home to commit a home invasion crime, then do anything you can to survive. For active shooter situations, we recommend that people run, hide or fight. Some of those options may exist for you during the commission of a home invasion. But whatever it is that you decide to do, do something and move quickly. Don't become a victim! Protect your family to the best of your ability, and call 911 as soon as safely possible. As for protecting the material possessions inside your home, there is no property in your home worth dying for. So if alone, get out as soon as you can.
You may want to consider contacting your local police department or hiring a security consultant to conduct what is called a home security survey. Many of the topics I write about here are discussed in more detail during such a survey. As you get ready for summer, checking on these numerous security considerations might not be a bad investment for you or your family.
Stay safe and don't let the bad guys win!