How to Prevent Break-Ins

By Suzanne Wiley

As a gun owner, it is very important and, in some states, a law, to be hyper-vigilant about keeping your firearms out of the reach from those unauthorized to use it. Not only do I personally worry about the violation of someone breaking into my home, I am fearful of losing all of the things I’ve worked hard to buy, as well as irreplaceable family heirlooms, but nothing is more worrisome than if one or more of my firearms were to fall into the hands of a bad guy.

A home in the United States is broken into every 15 seconds; 3 out of 4 houses will be broken into in the next 20 years. With these grim statistics, I take every precaution I can to make my home as secure as possible. There is no absolute guarantee you won’t be a victim of a crime no matter what you do—bad things happen to the best people—however, you can mitigate the crime of theft by ensuring your home isn’t a soft target.

Criminals aren’t in their game to get caught; they pick the path of least resistance. They want fast, easy targets. To secure your home, follow these 10 steps on how to protect your home from burglary.

  1. Situational Awareness

Col. Jeff Cooper's color codes of awareness chart
Original color code graphic from Breach Bang Clear. Text added by the author.

Whether you choose to own and/or carry a gun or not, you should always be aware of your surroundings. Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper, the late founder of Gunsite and one of the greatest self-defense pistol instructors in history developed what he called “color codes” of awareness. There are four main codes:

Red: You are being attacked and have decided to fight.

Orange: You have sensed that something is wrong and identified a possible threat. At this heightened level of awareness, you are preparing yourself for fight or flight.

Yellow: You are alert and aware but in a relaxed and calm mood.

White: You have checked out and unaware of what is and who is around you. It is natural to go “code white” at home and while at the movies, concert or play, obviously during sleep and while intoxicated.

  1. Own a Self-Defense Firearm

Part of owning a gun is learning how to identify threats and respond appropriately.
Part of owning a gun is learning how to identify threats and respond appropriately.

I’m not going to get into what the best home-defense firearm is, as everyone has their preference. Whichever gun you feel most comfortable with is the right home defense gun for you—AR-15s, SBRs, shotguns, pistols and revolvers all have their pros and cons. Either way, store it safely, yet easily accessible, train on its use, especially clearing malfunctions as well as work on speed and accuracy at close distances, buy the correct ammo for self-defense/home protection and teach everyone who lives in the home proper gun safety and handling.

  1. Lights, Lasers and Other Gun Accessories

Many put lights and lasers on their CCW for fast target identification and acquisition.
Many put lights and lasers on their CCW for fast target identification and acquisition.

There are quite a few gun accessories designed specifically for making it easier to identify and hit targets in low-light, high-stress situations. If awakened in the middle of the night by crashing sounds or breaking glass, you will need a light for proper identification and an aiming aid like a laser, red dot sight or night sights to shoot accurately when stakes are high. Reflex (red dot) sights help people like with me with poor eyesight to confidently aim, while lasers help with accuracy in high-stress situations.

  1. Charged Cell Phone

Call 911 as soon as you suspect your house is being broken into. Even if you have to put the phone down, don't hang up.
Call 911 as soon as you suspect your house is being broken into.

Immediately call 911 and stay on the line if you suspect someone breaking into your house. You can put the phone down as needed to keep two hands on your firearm or one hand on your gun and one hand on your light. Tell them the situation and ask for law enforcement immediately. Do not hang up the phone, even if you need to put it down.

  1. Proper Locks and Reinforce Entry Way

Reinforce doors with deadbolts and cover windows with unbreakable laminate.
Reinforce doors with deadbolts and cover windows with unbreakable laminate.

With the reported 13.5 million property crimes committed in 2018, most thieves enter homes through the front or back door or a first-floor window. I hate to have to tell you this, but keep doors and windows locked. Reinforce doors with deadbolts and cover windows with unbreakable film.

  1. Security Systems and Cameras

Though cameras and alarm systems won't prevent break ins, they act as a deterrent.
Though cameras and alarm systems won’t prevent break-ins, they act as a deterrent.

An up-to-date and activated security system may not fully prevent a break-in, but it can certainly shorten the amount of time a burglar spends in your home. Inside and outside cameras, smart doorbells, motion-detection—there are many different types of professional and do-it-yourself security systems available. It is possible that even fake cameras and a security system sign outside may keep your home safer. Sixty percent of robbers report skipping over a house with a security system. In fact, according to Alarms.org, “homes without a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized.”

  1. Get a Dog

Even just signs of a large dog can dissuade thieves.
Even just signs of a large dog can dissuade thieves.

Besides being a man and woman’s best friend, a dog may deter a home break-in. Convicted thieves, during a casual survey, reported they avoided houses with large, loud dogs. Even the presence of a dog may deter a burglar. You can use a recording of menacing growls, leave out large water bowls and toys in the yard to indicate you have more than a yappy chihuahua inside.

  1. Proper Lighting

Install motion-detection lights around the perimeter of your house and cut back shrubs so there are no hiding spots.
Install motion-detection lights around the perimeter of your house and cut back shrubs so there are no hiding spots.

It is likely that a thief cases your house before deciding to break-in. Make it difficult for a criminal to nail down your family’s routine. Use automated, variable lighting in different rooms, install motion-sensor lights outside and if possible, leave different cars parked in the driveway at unpredictable times. Walk around the perimeter of your house at night and pinpoint places where it is easy to hide from the street. Light those areas up and trim shrubs and remove bushes that serve as cover for criminals.

  1. Keep Valuables in a Safe

Gun safes keep your gun close and secure.
Gun safes keep your gun close and secure.

It takes a robber an average of 8 to 10 minutes to get in, grab what they want and get out. Thieves are looking for cash and anything they can sell or pawn—jewelry, small electronics, firearms. Make these things difficult to locate and keep them in a safe. Do not hide things in bedside tables, in sock or underwear drawers, under the mattress or on top of closet shelves. You could even create a fake stash—put some money and fake jewelry in a safe or box easily accessible so that robbers are fooled into grabbing that and getting out before finding your real valuables.

  1. Create an Inventory List

Possession inventory lists will help you recoup stolen goods and provide pawn shop with proof of stolen goods.
Possession inventory lists will help you recoup stolen goods and provide pawn shop with proof of stolen goods.

Go through your home and develop a detailed inventory list of everything you own. Take pictures, jot down details and serial numbers—especially your firearms, expensive electronics and jewelry. Provide the list to your insurance company when needed. It doesn’t hurt to ask them if you need separate policies on things like wedding rings, expensive watches and firearms. This not only helps recoup your loss but gives pawnshops a solid way to identify not only stolen property but the person attempting to sell stolen property.

With these 10 home security tips, it is easier to stop a thief from coming into your home. Make sure you aren’t a soft target, practice your situational awareness always and train regularly with your firearms.

How do you secure your castle? Tell us in the comment section.