Home Invasion Defense Tactics

Reading Caleb’s post reminded me of something from a couple weeks ago.

A friend of mine was home alone. She heard some noises upstairs, it freaked her out a bit so she fetched the gun and kept it on the table next to her as she worked. Eventually she was freaked out enough that she opted to leave the house. Later she was given advice that she should have cleared the house because she knows how to do that.

IMHO, that wasn’t the best advice. Maybe she does know how to do it, but that doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do. I also don’t think that leaving was the right thing either.

Best thing? Hunker down. Call the police.

The main question to ask yourself is: “is this worth dying for?”

To go clearing the house could be inviting trouble. You don’t know what’s there and it could be a bigger problem than you’re able to handle, especially if you’re alone.

To leave the house could be a problem too, as you don’t know what’s going on. Maybe someone did break into the house and now there’s dude #1 in the house and dude #2 outside keeping watch while dude #3 is set with the getaway car. You don’t know what’s going on so again you could be walking into trouble.

But what if it’s nothing? Wouldn’t that be a waste of time for the police? Perhaps, but what if it’s something?

Are there cases that you should leave your position? Yes. For instance, a loved one is elsewhere in the house and the trouble appears to be in their general vicinity. In the end it just depends upon the situation and asking yourself “Is it worth dying for?”.

10 thoughts on “Home Invasion Defense Tactics

  1. If you haven’t read this chapter from Jeff Cooper’s _To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth_ entitled “Tactical residential Architecture”, I’d highly recommend it:


    I’m in the process of building a new home right now and have incorporated some of his suggestions into the layout such as a recessed front doorway with recess-facing windows and having all the bedrooms on one end of the house and a locking wrought iron door (but which looks tasteful to please the missus) to retard entry into the living area. A perimeter fence around the home proper patrolled by a barky dog and internal motion sensing lights are also part of the plan.

    • I’ve got that book. I do intend to consider such things when the day comes that I build my own house.

      You also need a moat. 🙂

  2. You’re absolutely right. Hunker down, arm yourself, call the cops. No police officer is going to make fun of you, because you heard a really weird noise and didn’t want to go check it out.

    I don’t house clear, unless I have to get to somebody and save them. The cops have backup, bigger guns, flashlights, handcuffs, and kevlar. I’ve got a 9mm and a telephone. I’m going to keep both handy, one is for calling for help, the other is to watch my six until it gets there.

    Besides, doesn’t anyone watch horror movies? DON’T GO UPSTAIRS.


    • Don’t go upstairs. Don’t go to summer camp.

      And when the walls start to drip blood and a disembodied voice tells you to get out well… then it’s OK to stop hunkering down. 😉

  3. I don’t agree. In all things that involve risk you have to make decisions based not on worst case scenarios, but on risk vs. cost and that includes the cost of not acting.

    What is the actual risk that someone is in your house, better armed than you are and willing and likely to kill you?

    I’d clear my house because I think the likelihood of those things being true isn’t worth calling the police and having them search my house. The likelihood is extremely small, yet the cost of even hunkering down is so much higher. You have to not do whatever it is you would have done while hiding or wait for the police to come and search your house, feel stress and fear for the whole time, etc. Given the reality of the risk there is someone there, that is a poor choice.

    I’d clear the house tactically because it would be a good training opportunity. Plus I believe if you are a gun owner is it precisely because you don’t feel you have to depend on the cops to defend you.

    Hsoi, remember Bruce Schneier of Applied Cryptography? Has a great book called Beyond Fear on risk assessment. What you’ve described he’d call a movie plot scenario.

    • I’m not sure I would look at a possible home-invasion situation as a “good training opportunity.” This is a time to use what you should have already learned.

      Is hunkering down and calling the police not acting? No, it’s certainly acting. You’ve still made a conscious decision about what to do. Sitting there frozen is not acting.

      I know not to depend upon the police, but ultimately we’re in agreement here about risk vs. cost. That’s why I pose the question “is this worth dying for?”.

      If my kids were upstairs sleeping and I heard a worrisome noise, yes I’d be heading up there. To me, there’s potential greater cost in terms of my children — yes they are worth dying for. If I was home alone and heard a noise upstairs that was an obvious “someone’s in the house noise” (e.g. glass breaking, someone fumbling around; voices, etc.) I’d likely hunker down in a hidden but defensible position… i.e. they’ll come by eventually and I’ll have the advantage of surprise, plus if they don’t come around well, I improved my chances of staying alive… I’m more valuable to my wife and kids alive than dead.

      It just all depends upon the person, the particular circumstances, and to me the answer to the question “is this worth dying for?”.

      • To me that is the wrong question because the chances of you dying are so miniscule as to be ridiculous. If you asked the question “is this worth dying for” before you get on your motorcycle – a thing MUCH more likely to result in your death – you wouldn’t do it. Why should we apply this to going upstairs to a strange noise?

        Asking “is this worth dying for” depends on what this is. If this is the sound of the cat upstairs in a house I’ve been in for hours, then it’s a dumb question to use. If this is the sound of strange voices discussing how to carry my big screen TV while holding and AK-47, then evacuate and call the police.

        Now I’m assuming it was a situation like my Mrs had the other day where she did what you talk about – got her gun and just “hid”. I guess if I heard a sound I knew meant a stranger was in the house, then I’d consider calling the police. But just hearing a noise isn’t that.

        My point about clearing the house tactically was it was 99.99% likely there was no threat, but I’d do it that way anyhow because I could practice. As opposed to just going upstairs and finding out if someone was there – which would probably be just as effective, especially given I’m normally carrying.

        I’ve cleared my house before when we’ve come home and the front door was open. Probably because we didn’t close it well – there were no signs of forced entry. Had the Mrs wait outside ready to call 911, and I went in and check the house. Why, because it was still extremely unlikely in my neighborhood anyone was there.

        I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has called the police and how they cleared the house. My bet is they don’t even do it gun drawn because they realize the threat is low enough – and possibility who ever is there isn’t hostile – it is better to just put their hand on it as they walk through the house checking all the rooms.

        • Actually the consideration of dying does enter into the motorcycle equation. Having gone down twice, having lots of near collisions because of jackasses on the road (including one cement truck driver that wasn’t paying attention to the stop light and almost went up my tail pipe) I certainly consider death every time I’m on the road. I have contemplated hanging it up more than a few times because I don’t know if it’s worth it any more.

          Is it a dumb question? Obviously I don’t think so. If I knew it was the cat making noise, I wouldn’t ask myself the question in the first place. But if I had no idea what was going on, I’d have to make a judgment call. If I suspected it could be something potentially life threatening, then yes… is this worth dying for? So like I said, and you seem to agree, it’s a matter of the person and the particular situation.

          Chances are good it is nothing, but I guess I’m not much of a gambler. But again it all depends upon the particulars of the situation. In a case like you had with you coming home to an open door, you had a team: you and the Mrs.. That again changes the particulars of the situation.

          We both grant that it’s up to the person(s) in the situation and the particulars of the situation. You came home one day to an open door and figured the chances were low enough.. you figured the risk was small enough that it was worth taking, that chances of dying were slim. And you also granted that if you certainly heard voices you’d bail and call the police. There you determined no it wasn’t worth dying over the TV.

          So we really do agree on this. 🙂

          I also think the question of “is this worth dying for” is a generally good guideline about drawing your gun. Someone cut you off and took your parking space…. someone called you mother a bad name…. your boss pissed you off…. are these things worth dying for? or maybe a different question: worth the legal trouble, worth going to jail? If not, keep the gun in the holster.

          • Reading this I now realize “is it worth dying for?” isn’t the first question you ask when you hear a noise upstairs, which I what I was thinking about. The first question is “how big a threat is this noise?”

            I know this is a question to ask before drawing your weapon. Actually Frontsight’s question is very similar but deployed slightly different. When you decide you need to possibly shoot someone you ask “is this worth you dying?” because you should only be shooting people to make them stop doing something that could get you killed.

            I do sometimes wonder if we err too much on the side of caution, but that’s another discussion. To me the biggest thing that will slow you down is the decision to shoot, not the actual shooting. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m never going to decide fast enough. Unless I’m in a war zone, I’m always going to doubt until they take the first shot.

            • Yeah, first question is WTF? 😉

              Perhaps “is it worth you dying” is a better way to phrase it. Point remains the same tho.

              I just am not a fan of walking into trouble if I know there is trouble or a high likelihood of trouble. Bump upstairs? Yeah I might go check it out. Crash of glass and voices and something obviously going down, I’m not going looking for trouble since it’s obviously done a fine enough job of coming to me on its own.

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