Home defense

Approaching the door

Approaching the door

In the previous 2 posts, we were discussing issues related to approaching your home from a vehicle or on foot/any other way. The next big step to take is learning how to approach the door after getting safely into your yard/driveway. This space can create a crucial pinch point and should not be neglected!

Once you are safely inside your driveway, there is still a risk of attack. A lot of attacks happen in this space. The biggest reason for this is that there is not much movement and other variables for the criminals to consider. They can easily hide inside your driveway or behind your house or whatever might be available, just waiting for your approach to the door. More preferably just after you unlocked the door. Then they strike comfortably, without having to worry much about being seen by someone else.

As you move to your front door, avoid using any electronic devices. Use natural lighting to scan for any shadows. Avoid going straight around sharp corners. Keep your eyes and ears open. Walk swiftly and directly to the door. Use a flashlight to scan dark spots.

These are the most common things to look out for:

  1. Silhouettes in the dark.
  2. Any signs of movement that is not a pet or family member.
  3. Any objects out of place, like potting plants, dustbins, or anything that is supposed to be inside your outhouse, garage, or home.
  4. Light at the front door is not working.
  5. Broken windows.
  6. Animals behaving abnormally.
  7. Your alarm system does not respond.
  8. Your neighbor’s alarm system is triggered.

Once one of these is noticed, I suggest the following reaction:

1 - 3. When you notice any moving shadows, it’s obvious that you are not alone. You need to escape immediately and activate your emergency plan. Contact emergency numbers and move as quickly away from your home as is possible. Only re-enter once your home is made safe by policing services or your security service. Any sign that indicates possible movement, whether from behind the house, behind you, in front of you, or on the roof, can just as well be an intruder. Do not write it off as an animal or the wind. Activate your emergency contacts and get out of your yard and away from your home as quickly as possible.

4. There can be various reasons for this such as a blown globe or neglecting to switch the light on when leaving. Use a flashlight to approach cautiously and be on high-alert. Clear around the corners before unlocking the door.

5. See steps 1 – 3.

6. Establish why they are acting abnormally and proceed with caution. Notify your emergency contacts of any suspicious behavior or if you suspect any problems.

7. You need to notify your emergency contacts. Phone your reaction company if you have any. Proceed cautiously if you suspect no problems. If you suspect any problems, call for assistance.

8. Get into your home as quickly as possible and watch for any movement outside. There is always a possibility of an intruder crossing over from your neighbor’s yard into yours. When this happens, activate your emergency contacts and get out of sight. Do not try to engage anyone, they might want to make you their next target, especially when they are being chased.

Tips:

  • When you are inside your yard, do not lower your awareness you need to raise your level of awareness to high alert.
  • Do not move around sharp corners, and keep equal space on both sides. When an attack comes from the left, move right. When an attack comes from the right, move left. Do not get backed into a wall, gate, or fence.
  • If possible, try to check around each corner of your home that is adjacent to the walls where your front door is located. This way you can be sure there is no one waiting for you to unlock the door before rushing upon you. And if someone is waiting further away, you create more time to react.
  • Keep a flashlight ready when you know that you will return during the night. Use it to scan all surroundings. This also de-motivates possible intruders, as it implies a higher level of awareness and greater risk to them.
  • When unlocking your doors, do not keep you’re back exposed. Try to stand next to your door instead of directly in front of it.
  • When locking your doors again, do it as quickly and calmly as possible. Constantly check for possible intruders rushing towards the door.
  • Install slam-lock doors or any door that locks without having to use the key, to reduce exposure time.
  • Have lighting installed at your front door. You want to be able to see properly when unlocking the door.

Keep bags on your back or shoulder. And smaller items in your pockets. You want your hands to be free to defend yourself. The only item to have in your hand is a panic button or cellphone ready to phone emergency contacts.

How strong is your approach to the door?

Home defense

Approaching your home

Part 1

So if we think about this for a minute, it makes sense to start from where we get close to home and not inside the home itself. Approaching your home after being away for a while is probably the most crucial part of the defense, as a lot of hijackings and attacks happen in this space.

Have you seen the influx of videos where people are being attacked just as they pull up in front of their homes lately? Sadly it’s an increasing strategy used by criminals, you have no cover, no one to assist, and most probably never even expect it to happen. Yet it does happen. Often it is a well planned and timed attack where criminals will follow you for a few days to test your awareness, see what times you leave and who is in which vehicle.

Here's how you can work on this:

As you approach your home, whether you are walking, cycling, or driving, you need to constantly scan your surroundings to identify anything out of place. Switch of the music and air-conditioning system, reduce your speed, open a window slightly, and concentrate on your surroundings.

These are the most common things to look out for:

Approaching per vehicle:

  1. Any vehicle parked somewhere with number plates not familiar to your area.
  2. Any vehicle behind you when there is not much traffic, or if you suspect you are being followed.
  3. Any people gathering or walking down the street in an abnormal posture, speed, or interest in your presence.
  4. Any markings or indicators that are not supposed to be there. (Empty bottles, card boxes, rocks or small piles, etc.)
  5. Your animals act suspicious or do not greet you at the gate. (Animals always know when something is up)
  6. Your automated gate does not work, or you can visibly see something that restricts the gate from opening. (Cable tie, rope or wire, etc.)
  7. Your security guard is not present.
  8. Your complex gate is open.
  9. No electricity, when buildings or homes next to you or your complex has electricity.
  10. Drunken residents en route to your apartment.
  11. One of your vehicles or trailers is missing.

Once any of these are noticed I suggest the following reaction:

  1. Make sure the occupants in the vehicle know that you have seen them and that you are completely aware that they are not supposed to be there. Try to note the color, make, model, the number of occupants, and license plate number (Voice recorder works great). Next, you want to notify someone of this unfamiliar behavior before you try to approach your front gate (see action plan). Do not approach your driveway, drive around the block till you feel comfortable enough to approach the driveway.
  2. Drive around the block, making a complete circle. If the vehicle is still behind you, immediately phone police services. Another possibility is that more than 1 vehicle might be following you, if you do make a trip around the block and a new vehicle is behind you, repeat the process around a different block. Keep driving for as long as the confirmed vehicle is following you, drive to a police station or nearest place of help. Notify the police that you will be driving straight to them, and also what route you will be using.
  3. If possible, try to secretly record them. Do not make it obvious that they are being recorded, as this may give them a reason to approach you. Have your vehicle ready to go as quickly as possible if need be.
  4. When you are certain there is no threat you can remove all the obvious markings, but only after you have parked your vehicle securely. Make sure to dispose of all rubbish and lose objects in front of your yard.
  5. This can be for more than one reason. Firstly do not drive into your driveway. Secure your vehicle and enter on foot. Only once you can confirm there is no threat can you pull your vehicle into the driveway. If there is any threat, do not approach. Phone emergency services and activate your action plan. When your dog is barking abnormally at the gate, drive past and confirm that there is no threat outside the gate.
  6. When this happens you can be certain of an attempt of hijacking or attack.  Immediately leave your driveway and activate your action plan. Phone police service and have them confirm that it’s safe to approach.
  7. Proceed with caution and have your phone ready to call for help when needed. Notify your emergency group/contacts of the situation before proceeding.
  8. Unless you see obvious signs of intrusion, proceed with caution. Notify your emergency contacts of the situation before proceeding. When there are obvious signs of intrusion, phone police services, and your emergency contacts. Wait for police services to clear the premises.
  9. Notify your emergency contacts. Always have a flashlight handy and use it to scan systematically through the premises before approaching your home. Listen to any noise and movement. Start by making sure your main supply box is locked and not tampered with. Once you are satisfied there is no threat outside, move into your home. Locate the route of the problem.
  10. This is not necessarily a threat but can easily escalate into one. Try to avoid them as much as possible. Notify your emergency contacts. Do not appear aggressive and move away as quickly as possible.
  11. Notify your emergency contacts! Approach with caution. If there is still an intruder present. Activate your action plan.

Tips:

  • When stopping in front of your gate, you want to leave enough space if possible to easily reverse and drive away, or turn around. If possible, practice reversing from your gate with speed.
  • During night time, switch of your headlights in front of the gate, this enables you to look beyond and over your vehicle and helps your eyes adapt to the shadows easier.
  • If you have to open your gate manually, do not switch off your vehicle, leave the keys inside, and close the door if possible. Often criminals just want the vehicle and will then leave you alone. But do not create temptation by leaving the door open.
  • If you have occupants in the car like small children, women, or elderly, you have to switch off the vehicle and take the keys with you when opening the gate manually (if no one else can). This will be your negotiation tool to get everyone safely out of the vehicle. Do not be cocky or brave. Control your emotions. Ask for your family members to exit the car before handing over the keys. Make sure to show them you have the keys.
  • If you do not open the gate, but someone else does, have everyone exit the vehicle together and watch every corner. This ensures your family is separated from the vehicle and have a greater chance of escape. They have to exit as quickly as possible.
  • Never sit and wait inside your vehicle. Keep the vehicle idle and stand outside and wait, if possible. Constantly scan your surroundings.
  • Make sure your rear-view mirror and side mirrors are properly aligned to be able to view as much space as possible.

How strong is your approach with a vehicle?

Home defense

Approaching your home (Part 2)

Part 2

Welcome back! Continuing from part 1, there is more than 1 way to approach your home. Part 1 focused on approaching per vehicle, and in this part, I will cover approaching on foot, which will be relevant to all the other methods, as you will essentially be on foot when you open a gate. Open part 1 here and make sure you understand the content in accordance with each other.

Approaching on foot:

  1. Try not to visibly show any of the occupants inside the vehicle that you have noticed them. Try to note the color, make, model, the number of occupants, and license plate number. Next, you want to notify someone of this unfamiliar behavior before you try to approach your front gate (see action plan). Cautiously and swiftly approach your driveway.
  2. Immediately reduce your walking speed to very slow, creating space between you and the suspected follower or vehicle. If the vehicle or follower stops or reduces speed to match your speed, call Police services! Try to reach a populated area or some area where you can hide. Notify as many people as you can and be ready to defend yourself until police and emergency services arrive. Always try to increase your speed as much as possible and attract the attention of anyone around you when you have confirmed that you are being followed.
  3. Make sure they know that you are aware of them, do not appear weak or inattentive. If possible. Try to record them secretively. Do not make it obvious that they are being recorded, as this may give them a reason to approach you. Try to create as much space as possible between you and them.
  4. When you are certain there is no threat you can remove all the obvious markings. Make sure to dispose of all rubbish and lose objects in front of your yard.
  5. This can be for more than one reason. If there is any threat, do not approach. Phone emergency services and activate your action plan. When your dog is barking abnormally at the gate, confirm that there is no threat outside the gate and make sure to not let your dog get out. Enter your gate as quickly as possible.
  6. When this happens you can be certain of an attempt of an attack.  Immediately activate your action plan. Phone police service and have them confirm that it’s safe to approach.
  7. Proceed with caution and have your phone ready to call for help when needed. Notify your emergency group/contacts of the situation before proceeding.
  8. Unless you see obvious signs of intrusion, proceed with caution. Notify your emergency contacts of the situation before proceeding. When there are obvious signs of intrusion, phone police services, and your emergency contacts. Wait for police services to clear the premises.
  9. Notify your emergency contacts. Always have a flashlight handy and use it to scan systematically through the premises before approaching your home. Listen for any noise and movement. Start by making sure your main supply box is locked and not tampered with. Once you are satisfied there is no threat outside, move into your home.
  10. This is not necessarily a threat but can easily escalate into one. Try to avoid them as much as possible. Notify your emergency contacts. Do not appear aggressive and move away as quickly as possible.

Tips:

  • Remove hiding spots such as dense bushes or anything anyone can hide behind.
  • Clear your driveway for more visibility and maneuvering.
  • Keep your driveway well lit.
  • Create a communication group to notify someone when you suspect suspicious behavior or feel uncomfortable to approach your driveway (emergency contacts).
  • If you are returning home after dark, have someone meet you at the gate the same time you arrive, to ensure quick entry.
  • Do not use any electronic devices when approaching your driveway, you should be on full alert.
  • Change the routes to your home daily, to avoid predictable patterns.

How strong is your approach on foot?