Survival Friday: Excerpt from The Green Beret Survival Guide SurvivalFinal

There are two types of incidents we’re discussing here:  home invasion and theft when no one is home.  As I’ve said over and over, take the point of view of the other person.  Here are some keys to understand about burglars:

  • ·      Often they case a place by doing work such as painting, carpet cleaning, or furniture deliveries.  Did you see how the exterminators in Breaking Bad had the perfect set up?  People would literally hand them the keys to their house, allow them to go through the entire place, make copies of the keys and then the owners would wonder who burglarized them weeks later.  Be very, very careful who you allow into your house.  To the point of leaning heavily toward paranoia.  You might irritate some people, but the list of those who let the wrong person in and paid the price is long.
  • ·      I know you want to let that yard guy in to use the bathroom or phone when he asks, but don’t unless you know him or her.  He might case the place and unlatch the window.  Don’t let someone in unless you really know who they are, and even then . . .   In The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo one of the most interesting scenes is where the hero is sneaking through the suspected bad guy’s house and realizes he’s the bad guy (really bad!) and escapes.  As he’s slipping and sliding downhill away from the house the bad guy comes out on his porch and calls out to him.  The good guy at first wants to hide, but he knows the bad guy saw him.  So, being polite, he says hello back.  The bad guy invites the good guy in for a glass of wine.  The good guy accepts!  A half hour later, while the good guy is dangling, helpless in a harness and the bad guy is looking over his power tools trying to decide which one to start using on the good guy, the bad guy points out that even though good guy knew bad guy was bad, his social courtesies were stronger than his self-preservation.
  • ·      Don’t be the good guy dangling in the harness. 
  • ·      As an emergency goes from mild, to moderate, to extreme, you have to focus more on survival and less on being the nice person.  And there are times, in day-to-day normal life, where being a nice person can be very costly.  That is just a reality, with no judgment passed on it.
  • ·      A burglar can case the outside of your place and get a good idea of what’s inside.  Not just the house itself and the neighborhood, but your landscaping, the toys your kids leave scattered about, the type of car parked in the driveway.  While there’s not much you can do about that, be aware of it.
  • ·      Newspapers piled up in the driveway are a lighthouse for thieves.  They can also leave a fast food/pizza delivery/cleaning flyer jammed in your front door and see how long it stays there.  It takes a couple of days to suspend newspaper delivery, so for any trip you are taking, plan that into it ahead of time.  Or have a friendly neighbor come by each day and clean up.
  • ·      If it snows and you are out of town, while your neighbor might not want to shovel your walk, ask them to at least tramp up to the door and drive in your driveway to leave tracks.  It makes it look like someone might be there, even someone too lazy to shovel their walk.
  • ·      If you have glass in your front door, check to see if the alarm system pad is visible through it.  If it is, change it or make sure you block the view when arming and disarming.
  • ·      Surprisingly, many thieves strike during the day, especially now that most couples have dual careers and kids are in day care or school.  Turn your alarm on if you have one even when just leaving for a short day trip.
  • ·      Thieves knock.  Yes, they will ring the doorbell and if you answer, pretend to be something else:  asking directions, to clean your gutters, etc.  They might carry a clipdboard or wear a uniform.  Watch anyone who does this and see if they go to your neighbor’s house. Let them know you’re watching.  They don’t like to be watched.
  • ·      Don’t hide stuff in your sock drawer. Really.  Once more, think like the other guy.  They hit all the obvious hiding places fast.  There’s a method to the way a professional burglar works and you can find that information elsewhere in case you’re looking for a new career.  But think counter-intuitively if you want a hide spot.  Remember, you might lock everything in that fireproof lockbox, but since they can take it with them, it’s not a deterrent.  You have to put it somewhere not easily found, but where you can grab it quickly on the way out in an emergency.  Think.
  • ·      Those automatic light turn and off things, work as a deterrent.  Here is an inexpensive digital time programmer: Timer Programmable for Lights Dual 110v 15 Amp Outlets

In Special Forces we often had to consider deterrence to attacks.  Opportunistic attackers like thieves go for the easier target.  The harder you make your house as a target, the less likely you are to be robbed.  Check out your neighbors.  Are you a harder target than them?  Sort of like when you and your camping buddies are getting chased by the grizzly.  You don’t have to out-run the grizzly, you just have to out-run your buddies.  Remember in The Walking Dead when the one guy shot the other guy in the leg when the zombies were chasing them?  I’m not advocating that, but I am saying in reality . . .

  • ·      A dog door can be invitation into your house.  A dog isn’t.  I’m a big fan of dogs.  Thieves just don’t want to mess with them, even though Cool Gus here, snoring at my feet, isn’t exactly dangerous looking.  Until he gets riled with all 100 pounds and barking.  And here’s another thing:  we never reward our dogs because nothing happens.  We don’t come home at the end of the day and realize Fido just spent an hour barking himself crazy cause some guy was casing the joint and Fido scared him away.  But get robbed, and boy Fido is in trouble.
  • ·      The two most effective deterrents:  a dog and/or a nosy neighbor.
  • ·      Thieves rarely go into kids’ rooms when in the house.
  • ·      Big windows invite people to look in.  They can case your house from the outside.  Also, snipers can get a clear bead on you.  Close curtains in the evening.
  • ·      Don’t do foursquare or announce your vacation on Facebook or Twitter or whatever.  Every time I see someone tweet “I’m at Starbucks on Elm Street” I have to resist the urge to tweet:  “I’m in your home robbing you.”
  • ·      We’ll cover guns later.  But there are some nonlethal tools.  Wasp spray is one.  It’s got better range than pepper spray.  But pepper spray still works well on most occasions where it’s needed: Sabre Red Compact Pepper Spray with Quick Release Key Ring

  • ·      Have your car keys on your nightstand.  If someone breaks in, hit the alarm on the keys and your car will act as a poor man’s home alarm.  In the same manner, when approaching or leaving your vehicle, especially in indoor garages, have the keys in hand.