Home Defense and Theft Prevention: Firearms, Dogs, Cameras, Natural Barriers & Beyond During Good Times & SHTF
There are a lot of ways to approach home defense and to avoid theft and worse. This post is going to cover a variety of situations, including major SHTF defense. Here are a few questions to get started planning what you can do to best defend your home and family.
What size of property are you defending and where is your home located within your property?
If you have a house in the middle of 20 acres, then your defensive strategy will vary from someone that has a house on a lot on a city street. Not being close to a major road or other houses can be positive and negative depending on the circumstances. For example, living away from others means that no one is likely to realize if something is not quite right at your property or realize that someone is up to no good.
On the other hand, living isolated or on a dead end can mean it is harder for criminals to commit a major burglary. In my area, thieves know that everyone around is armed and will defend their place, so major theft and crime is not a common occurrence.
Do you live in a high crime area or is crime on the rise?
Unfortunately, crime is on the rise in a lot of areas. While people focus on large cities, it is important to remember that the last two major riots in the United States happened in towns of 21,000 residents (Ferguson) and 48,000 (Charlottesville). In areas facing harsh economic realities, crimes committed out of desperation are inevitable. Try to be aware of what is going on in your area enough to know if there is reason to be more concerned.
Are you defending against people mostly or wildlife as well?
Small wildlife is pretty darn sneaky. Bobcats, raccoons, skunks, and opossums are hard to keep out. A good dog can help a lot. Even a medium sized dog running around and barking helps more than some might think.
I carry a Bersa .380 around the farm for basic self-defense, but it is only good for a short range. The Bersa .380 is very reliable and will take even cheap ammo with no major issues. I like that I can carry a round in the chamber with the safety on. Taking the time to chamber around during a self-defense situation can mean that your attacker has more time to react. Nerves and fear can mean that you are a bit clumsier as well.
A good 12 gauge shotgun over the door is an option I recommend because it is inexpensive and the sound of a shotgun being pumped is often enough to send someone down the road. It is also very easy to teach someone to shoot a shotgun.
For major SHTF defense, I am a fan of the AK-47 because I grew up with them, the ammo is inexpensive, and they can take a lot of abuse. I know a lot of people are into the AR-15 but I just never was around them.
If you are new to firearms, I advise trying out a few different guns at a range, or if you have a friend that is into firearms, perhaps they will show you a few things if you buy the ammo? Not all guns are the best for everyone. For example, I have big hands so a Ruger LCP, while a fine little .380, feels too small. I don’t feel like I have a good grip on it and it doesn’t have a hammer.
A fence can be helpful but just how helpful it depends on a lot of factors. Unless a fence is extremely tall and fortified on the top, a determined person could find away. A lot of crime is that of opportunity. By making it harder, you can prevent crime and violence on your property.
Matt and I have a 4 ft high woven wire field fence around our property. It was worth the time and money because it keeps animals in and out a lot better and makes it hard for people to conveniently go through. Barbed wire is annoying to get over or through, but I have done it plenty of times. It doesn’t discourage people unless it is done really well and then it can be cut.
If you live in a place where someone has a barbed wire fence on the border, adding field fence makes it very formidable fence to get through or cut.
I do think that if you have the space to store it, a role or two of barbed wire put back is a good idea because you can put it in places to make it harder for people to access areas.
It took Matt and I a while to get our place fenced. We just bought a roll of wire and some t-posts as we could afford it and it eventually got completed. A lot of people get the idea that with a larger property they need to do fencing all at once. It is far better just to get started with a few supplies and keep at it than to wait around until you have all the money and time at once.
A good dog can alert you to a lot of problems. Even a small dog is a good alarm. Matt and I have three Great Pyrenees and a Lab/Mountain Feist Cross. They do a good job, and they are big enough to be formidable.
Natural fences and hedgerows
In the mountains of North Carolina, we have this terrible little bush called Japanese Barberry. It grows to be about 4 feet tall, but it takes awhile. It has long thorns and hurts a lot if you come into contact with it with even the slightest force. At one point Matt looked at me and said we could make a hedgerow with it by encouraging it to spread. While we did not do that, we have left some of it on the adjoining property sides. If you want to discourage people and some animals from intruding, look around for native or naturalized plants that could make a formidable barrier.
I really despise this stuff. For some reason they planted it outside of the dormitories at the college I attended. The thick barbs sure made you not want to venture into any areas near some of the walkways and porches. A fence of this would be terrible. It is a hardy plant, so you don’t have to nurture it.
This little shrub may not look like much, but it has woody spines that are no fun to come in contact with.
Cameras can be a good way to increase your surveillance capabilities without running all over the place. If you care about privacy, you do need to watch out what type of cameras you purchase. Some cameras have microphones, and they are connected to the internet so they could be hacked.
I personally know someone that bought a Nest camera, and within a few days, it saved their business from being looted by thieves. On the other hand, the Nest system has been in the news due to personal privacy concerns related to microphones and hacking. Check out this article over at The Organic Prepper for more information.
Some people use game cameras for keeping tabs, but they usually don’t offer a live view. It can be confusing to decide which is best for you in terms of a security camera system so ask yourself a few questions before looking and deciding which system is right for you.
- How big of a property do you want to keep an eye on?
- Do you want indoor, outdoor cameras, or both?
- How many cameras do you eventually want? Some camera systems are easy to expand, but some are more limited.
- Is sound recording required? Do you want to be able to speak through the camera?
- Are your internet connection and routers up to the job of handling a security system?
- Do you have electricity or the ability to run it to areas or do you need wireless?
It can be nice to have a heads up that someone is on their way to your door. The problem is that if you have dogs or kids running around, they can trip the alarm. If it is easy to avoid due to it being at the very beginning of your driveway than that is not so much of a problem.
These operate on electricity or batteries. The line of sight is important with wireless systems as is the length of your driveway. Some alarms do not work so well in mountainous areas or for those that have very long driveways. Be sure to carefully check the specifications of an alarm system before purchasing.
Door reinforcements and alarms
Some doors are easier to kick in or bust down than others. A good steel door with no windows is very strong. Adding windows makes a door weaker. Yes, the glass is tempered, but that doesn’t mean much to a determined person. Door kick in kits like those made by Armor Concepts can be a big help and offer permanent protection.
Glass shattering and sending shards everywhere is all too common in a variety of emergency situations. Window film is great because it is a method you can use to prevent this even if you are renting. The film makes it a lot harder to bust through a window. There are various thickness and sizes. Of course, you will need to cut it to size. This essentially turns regular glass windows into something closer to tempered glass. I recommend getting the thicker film that I linked to because the thicker the film, the better your protection.
Bars over windows
This is pretty extreme and expensive, but in cities, it is quite common, especially on lower levels and in higher crime areas. Business owners are sometimes more likely to resort to bars. It is not nice to look out a window with bars but it also not a nice feeling to get a home invader or thief.
Major defense for SHTF
These methods are a bit more extreme, but sometimes the situation calls for it. I don’t recommend these methods for any use other than situations where you feel like you are in great danger and likelihood of ambush or attack. You also need to be very careful that you do not forget and fall victim to your own defenses.
Fish hook barb wire
This involves using a series of small “egg” fish hooks on a line. While fishing line will work, it can be hard to work with, and it has a glare to it that can be seen by intruders. Actual roles of “trip wire” can be used to
Regular barbed wire
As stated before, you can unroll this anywhere you want to make it harder to pass. You can even put it in front of windows.
Trip wires with an alarm or worse
A trip wire strung across a doorway or other area and attached to a small personal alarm will alert you if someone breaches a certain point.
Defense Devices offers a selection of devices and surplus trip wire from the Vietnam War. The green color is nice because it blends in and it doesn’t reflect light as badly as fishing line. You could use this for the fish hook barbed wire defense measure I talked about above.
Pits with punji sticks
The image above is a reconstruction used for a historical site in Vietnam. In real life, you would cover the pit enough to look like the surroundings or even set a trip wire so someone will trip and fall in.
This a time-consuming trap to lay and you sure don’t want to forget its there but if you are living in an SHTF situation that is turning worse every day and need some major defense, then a pit trap is cheap to make. You just need to dig a hole and line with sharpened sticks. Some people put nasty stuff on then ends. My Dad is a Vietnam vet, so I learned about punji sticks a long time ago.
Avoid announcing when you will be gone to a lot of people
It is amazing to me how open people are about the fact that they are on vacation or out of town. I write a lot of things on social media due to the nature of my job, but I absolutely will not ever say I am away or gone. No way. If I feel the need to show that I have been away and talk about it, I will do it when I am at home.
I know that going on a trip or venting can be helpful, but save it for when someone can’t take advantage of your absences to steal or do harm. Younger members of your family may be resistant to the idea of a “social media blackout” until you get home, but it can be important. It doesn’t mean you can’t share with trusted people but publicly posting a lot of information thieves and harmful people can use against you should be avoided while away.
Don’t put of pics of all your shiny gear and valuables
I get things for review sometimes that I could not afford without saving up for so looking at blogs and social media I use to post, you will see some pretty nice stuff. If it weren’t part of my writing career, I would not do that so much. If you have some gear or a weapon you are proud of, consider how wise it is to let the world know what you have. This gives people an idea of what they may be able to get from you. Remember that during an SHTF situation, people will do things that during good times, they would never do. A lot of people will start stealing fast if times get bad.
If your house is easily accessible from the main road, then you are at a disadvantage in some ways
Thieves are more likely to target homes that are somewhat visible from the road. After all, how are they going to get away with your stuff easily and how are they going to be able to watch and see your patterns? While they may be trying to make sure you are not home if you happen to be then the situation can get very dire.
Smart criminals sometimes go to great lengths to put on a good show and rob people in broad daylight. If you have someone in your neighborhood that is home a lot and you trust, it can be good to let them know your plans.
I want to tell you a story that happened in the high-end subdivision some of my husband’s relatives live in. While some residents were away, a moving van pulled up. Now if you don’t know everyone’s business in the neighborhood, a moving van and a team of guys that look official is nothing that you would think to be concerned about. Well, what actually happened was a team of professional thieves cleaned out a nice house while everyone in the neighborhood went about their business. No one knew that a moving van had no business being at the home.
Do you have a home defense plan? What challenges do you face in your area? Please share in the comments below!
Samantha Biggers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.