I hope it never happens to anyone, but reality says someone reading this post will arrive home to find signs that someone broke into their house.
I know I'll get some hate mail for this post, but that's fine; it wouldn't be the first time. I get it; you work hard for your stuff and don't want anyone taking it. And I'll agree the people breaking into homes are committing a criminal act and should be held accountable. However, I'm not demanding you respond a certain way. Instead, asking you to consider the information and perspective in the post.
Okay, so here it is;
if you return home and find signs that someone broke into or is inside your unoccupied home, there are zero reasons to go inside
When a loved one is inside the home, the situation is much different.
However, that IS NOT what the scope of this article is addressing.
Go inside to investigate?
Most of the news stories we find are of home invasions. But we also see reports of people returning to an unoccupied home to find evidence of forced entry.
Yes, sometimes people go inside to ‘investigate.' Investigate seems easier than saying – search the home to potentially get into an unnecessary physical altercation, possibly leading to injury or death for you or any unwelcome visitor(s).
Being armed with your everyday carry (EDC) handgun, you may feel inclined to head inside. However, while a handgun is a terrific tool, and if you had no choice but to go in, you would want to be armed, the gun doesn't ensure you aren't hurt or killed. Take, for instance, this story where an unarmed home invasion suspect disarmed the homeowner and used that gun to kill him.
People often tell me, ‘I know my house better than the burglar, so he is at a disadvantage.'
Really? It doesn't take a tactical guru with blueprints of the home to find a blind corner or another spot from which to ambush you. It's just nearly impossible to safely clear a house by yourself, even if it is your own.
You don't know how many people are inside, whether they are armed or their intentions. Burglars rarely operate by themselves. More than one person usually heads inside because they know there is a possibility that someone may be inside or arrive home. They want the advantage of numbers to overwhelm the homeowner(s).
They may also deploy a lookout to alert them someone has come home. If the suspects choose to stay and fight, they can ambush you and have a distinct advantage.
What can you do?
The simplest and safest thing to do is get you and your family to a secure location where you can call the police. Factors like the time of day, how far away a neighbor's house is, or law enforcement's response time to where you live will determine what is best. Next, consider a position of safety that provides a view of the house. Maybe this is inside a neighbor's house, across their porch, or down the street.
While heading to your house, officers consider how to deploy the resources they have. For example, as an officer responding to a hot prowl, I would usually check to see if our air support helicopter was available and how long it would take them to get overhead. I would also see if our K9 unit could head to the call as dogs are great at flushing out suspects. I would also coordinate with responding units so everyone didn't arrive at the house but rather get officers in the area to form a perimeter and search if the suspect ran.
The dispatcher may ask you questions, but it wouldn't hurt to offer the following information even if they don't ask. Some information that responding officers will find useful is:
- which door(s)/window(s) were forced open
- did you see or hear anyone inside the house
- is anyone supposed to be at home
- could someone legally be in the house
- are there animals inside or outside the home
- are there firearms inside the home that the suspects may have access to
- are there are vehicles or people nearby that seem out of place
- are there paths or trails nearby that lead to another location
If officers get this information before they arrive, they can respond more appropriately, given the particulars of your situation. But, again, by staying on the phone with dispatch, you can provide this helpful information without placing yourself or your family at any risk.
Sure, there are plenty of stories where a homeowner finds the door breached, goes inside to find nothing. And similarly, many armed homeowners have gone inside to find an intruder and successfully defend themselves or hold the person until law enforcement arrives.
It is great that we can find stories with positive outcomes.
However, even with the happy endings, the person exposed themself to unnecessary risk. Take this story, for instance. Thank God things ended well. But how easily could the outcome have turned out very different?
I don't know how much you value your life, but there isn't anything inside my home that is more valuable than my life. And if you need further perspective, consider what is more valuable to your family. Would they want you alive and unharmed, or any item inside your home a criminal can take?
There is another reason people may feel like heading inside to investigate.
There is a natural desire to catch the person. Maybe it's the feeling that if you catch them and they don't get away with it, they won't be back. It is true, burglars do sometimes target the same house if they obtain keys, know the owner's habits, or the security posture of the home remains weak.
But, unfortunately, just because someone gets arrested for burglary doesn't mean they don't do it anymore. So next time one of these burglars gets arrested, check out their prior offenses if they are listed. You're almost guaranteed to find arrests for prior burglaries and drug offenses.
And I'll just throw this in for your consideration because it's important. If somewhere in your calculus for going in is, ‘so the criminal leaves in a body bag,' you should seriously evaluate why you carry a firearm.
You don't have to justify criminal behavior to be against wanting to kill a burglar inside your home. That isn't justice.
Not every burglar who lives to see another day will change and become a positive member of society. Most probably won't. I've known my fair share who continue a criminal lifestyle until they die or end up committing a serious enough crime that they spend their lives in prison.
However, I also know a few who turned out to be law-abiding, loving parents who are grateful a homeowner didn't shoot them for breaking into their house.
Again the point is, don't unnecessarily risk your life to protect things. Let the police who have additional resources do the job they signed up to do.
The feeling of knowing someone broke into your home and was going through your belongings is unnerving, scary and can leave you feeling violated. It doesn't matter what kind of neighborhood we live in; there is the potential someone may want what is inside your home.
We put together a course called Complete Home Defense. In the DVD or online course, we present information to help you secure your home and your loved ones. We offer everything from physical security to responses to home invasions in the class.