Author Topic: Lessons Learned  (Read 1321 times)

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pop pop

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Lessons Learned
« on: April 05, 2016, 08:28:31 AM »
I was working day shift police patrol when a call went out at about 9:00 a.m. I was dispatched to a very large house in a nice neighborhood. The dispatcher said that the resident had called to report suspicious activity. The resident said that she had heard someone banging on her back door. She was worried because no one ever came to the back side of her house. She thought that the knock was a burglary attempt and she had locked herself in an upstairs bedroom until we could arrive.

This isnít an exceptionally unusual call. I work in a very wealthy city that has a high percentage of elderly residents. Many of these residents live alone, are disabled, or suffering from dementia. They tend to call us fairly often whenever they think something strange is happening.

As I drove to the call, the dispatcher gave me an update. They had received an additional call from the residentís alarm company stating that a lower level door had been opened. The dispatcher was still on the phone with the resident. She hadnít moved from her upstairs bedroom and no one else should have been in the house.

Another officer and I arrived within a few minutes. As we checked the perimeter of the house, we noticed that the lower level rear door had been kicked in. The door was standing open and most of the door frame was lying on the floor inside the house. Not knowing if the burglar(s) were still inside, we called for additional units to secure the perimeter as we searched the house for the intruders.

We cleared the lower levels and worked our way slowly upstairs until we reached the callerís bedroom. We had the dispatcher tell her that we were right outside her door and that it was safe to come out. She did, and was relieved to hear that the intruders had left the house.

After we assured the residentís safety, we began an investigation of the incident. Besides the rear door being kicked in, there had been an additional attempt to break a rear window. The burglars picked up a pointed rock from the homeownerís landscaping and made three attempts to bash the window. There were obvious marks and chips, but the glass didnít break. We surmised that the burglarsí attempts to break the window were the ďknockingĒ sound the resident heard.

Frustrated with their inability to make entry, the burglars dropped the rock and made another attempt by kicking in the door. This time they were successful. The door opened easily, but the burglar alarm was triggered in the process. Since nothing was taken from the house, we believe that the burglars fled after being scared off by the alarm.

The homeowner here was quite fortunate. Other than the expense of having to replace a window and a door frame, she didnít suffer any financial loss. Even though she wasnít hurt, the burglary attempt clearly traumatized her. She was visibly scared and shaking. The thought that someone could so easily invade her house is likely to cause some disturbing thoughts for her in the future.

Unfortunately, events like this are quite common. How can you ensure that you arenít victimized in a similar manner? Letís take a look at a few of the lessons we can learn from this incident:

1) Donít make it easy for criminals to break into your house. Given enough time and effort, a burglar can break into just about any location. Most, however, will look for the easiest targets they can find. The burglars here initially attempted entry by trying to break a window using a handy piece of landscape rock. Take a look around your house. Are you providing the burglar with the tools he needs to break in?

I canít tell you how many houses I see with ladders leaning up against the exterior wall, tools like hammers and axes laying around in the yard, or concrete blocks being used as improvised steps leading up to a back door. All of these items make it really easy for a criminal to force entry.

How easy are you making it for criminals to get into your house?

2) Secure lower level windows. Although this burglary attempt involved force, many of the ones I see do not. Most often criminals enter through unlocked lower level windows and doors. Make sure any entry point that a criminal can reach from the ground level stays locked.

If you are concerned about criminals breaking your windows to gain entry, I would suggest visiting your local home improvement store to look at ways you can better secure them. ďHurricane FilmĒ is readily available and easy to apply. It provides a transparent plastic coating over the windows that will resist all but the most determined efforts to break the glass. Decorative and removable steel bars are also available for both the inside and outside of your windows.

3) Invest in good exterior locks. This womanís door was opened with a single kick. She had a deadbolt on the door, but the strike plate (reinforced hole into which the deadbolt slides) was not secure enough. The deadbolt stayed extended but the entire door frame was knocked off.

Make sure each of your exterior doors has a deadbolt that is sturdy and extends at least one inch into the door frame. Install the strike plate and door hinges with extra long (three to four inch) wood screws that reach all the way into the door frame. Additionally, there are metal reinforcing plates available for both the boor and the strike plate area to prevent kick-ins. They are worthwhile if you think you are likely to experience a door kick.

4) Have good locks on your safe room or bedroom door as well. The homeowner here was hiding in a bedroom with a hollow core door and no deadbolt. If the criminals had wanted to get to her, it would provide no resistance at all.

I personally upgraded my bedroom door to one that is constructed of a solid wood and has a deadbolt. It isnít impenetrable, but it will take a lot of effort to break in. The $100 I spent doing so was a good investment.

Also make sure you have a way to call for help in your safe room. Phone contact with the resident was critical here. I suggest that you have both a landline phone and a cell phone in your master bedroom in case of power outages or if the criminals cut your phone line. When you upgrade your cell phone, keep your old one on a charger hidden in your safe room. Even if the phone is deactivated, the carrier must allow it to connect to 911. The phone wonít work for any other number, but federal law requires that it still connect when dialing 911.

5) Know your neighbors. After this incident we interviewed the callerís neighbors to see if they had seen anything. One alert neighbor gave us the description of a car she saw rapidly departing the victimís driveway just before our arrival. That description might give us enough information to make an arrest.

You should pay enough attention to know when something is ďout of placeĒ at your neighborsí houses. You should encourage them to do the same for you. If you or a neighbor sees something suspicious, make a call to the police.

Most criminals are lazy. They are looking for the absolute easiest place to acquire drugs, cash, and jewelry. A few simple interventions like I suggested above will ensure that you wonít have to suffer like the resident in this case. Make your house a harder target and you will be less likely to suffer a loss!

Greg Ellifritz is the full time firearms and defensive tactics training officer for a central Ohio police department. He holds instructor or master instructor certifications in more than 75 different weapon systems, defensive tactics programs and police specialty areas. Greg has a master's degree in Public Policy and Management and is an instructor for both the Ohio Peace Officer's Training Academy and the Tactical Defense Institute.

Taurian

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Re: Lessons Learned
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2016, 10:52:19 AM »
Good points all.  Thanks for posting pop pop!
The fact that the GOVERNMENT would even consider removing the natural right to bear arms is the very reason why the 2nd Amendment was written.

M1911A1

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Re: Lessons Learned
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2016, 03:22:17 PM »
Not bragging...just sharing information:
Our house is almost burglar-proof. But we haven't "hardened" any windows or entries. Instead, we have burglar-proofed our home by doing a good deed.

We have a live-in, ex-homeless person with whom we share our small property. She lives in an old camper-truck which is permanently parked right next to our garage.
She doesn't go out all that often, so that when we are out, it's more than likely that she is at home. She has the key to our house and garage, and she isn't afraid to investigate suspicious noises.
She always makes sure that there aren't mail or package accumulations, and that the house looks "lived-in," even when we're gone for more than two weeks.

Another good thing: Starting Thursday, Jean and I will be teaching her how to shoot.
Some kind person gave her a pretty good .22 rifle, with which she intends to do away with the rabbits who have moved into both our garden and hers. (We'd've left them to eat the little that they do, but they upset her no end. "I've got some good rabbit recipes," she says.)
The most prevalent kinds of crime on this island are meth labs and vacant-home break-ins. She has said that, when she feels that she's learned enough, if she ever hears suspicious noises, she'll bring the rifle along.

What? Us worry?

Want a secure home? Take-in a well-groomed and responsible homeless person, and learn to put up with the occasional anti-social mood or behavior.
Our friend took about a year to "straighten out," and now, as long as she's taking her medications, she's as warm, friendly, and well-behaved as you or me.
We believe that taking her in is what did the most to improve her self-image and to socialize her. We showed her that somebody cared about her, so she cared right back at us.
Now, she's involved in the community, and even volunteers at our theater.

And, no, we're not the least bit worried about her murdering us because she neglected to take her medications. Her problem isn't belligerousness or anger, but rather isolation and despair, and we seem to have helped her to get over that.
Steve,
retired leathersmith and practical shooter


"Qui desiderat pacem, prśparet bellum."

Taurian

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Re: Lessons Learned
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2016, 03:56:29 PM »
...learn to put up with the occasional anti-social mood or behavior.

So, I take it that you have met my wifey? :D
The fact that the GOVERNMENT would even consider removing the natural right to bear arms is the very reason why the 2nd Amendment was written.

M1911A1

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Re: Lessons Learned
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2016, 04:10:40 PM »
...And so say all of us.
Steve,
retired leathersmith and practical shooter


"Qui desiderat pacem, prśparet bellum."

oldranger53

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Re: Lessons Learned
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2016, 07:21:21 PM »
First of all, I agree with pop pop's post.  I started last year, hardening our home against invasions.

Secondly, Steve, bravo!

<Sent from phone. Typos possible.>

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight, and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be.  One hundred percent and then some.

pop pop

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Re: Lessons Learned
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2016, 05:29:53 AM »
Good post Steve, and good deed for sure.