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Change the Way You Think

Updated: Apr 10, 2019

This article covers some basic security principles and also hardening your home. Just like you should be a hard target in all that you do, you should set your life up the same way. This includes your home. Below I will offer some easy, low-budget alternatives for early-warning systems and fortifications. For the most part, this will be basic. The following information is geared more to those with little to no security experience or military background. Wait, wait, wait. Let me caveat that last statement I made. I spent 20 years in the military and I will say, in all honesty, being in the military DOES not make you a high speed security whiz banger. The skills are offered, but, like many other things in life, it's up to the individual to grasp, retain, and respect same. A civilian can be equally qualified and at the tip of the spear in this area. Common sense is priceless in what we are discussing and preparing for down the road possibly.

First, let's talk about some thoughts and simple overlooked things in the field of personal protection and security. I'm sure you have your own as well. I would love to hear them. If not in this field, maybe in other areas? We are all human and none of us are perfect. But often I hear a voice echoing "stupid is as stupid does." Yee buddy. Let's move ahead. Ladies, does leaving the toilet seat up sound familiar? Yea, a pet peeve huh. Or walking across the carpet with muddy shoes? Or not washing out dishes left in the sink overnight? Not show stoppers but know what I'm saying. Well, it really makes me shake my head when I witness some specific things that are vulnerabilities and further endangers a person's personal security. Things one can do in about five seconds or less at no cost. No coupons required. FREE. Example: Why do you lock the doors to your house at night when you sleep? Yet you leave your car unlocked, your purse and identification on the car seat and the garage door opener above the visor? So, you go to bed with your life in-tact and wake up financially broke, your identity is stolen, and the creep stole your box of bottle-caps that you like to snack on while driving. I won't even address the thug walking in to your house without pushing the doorbell or breaking a window. I always hear, "you worry too much" or "it has never happened before." Folks that is funny as heck. Think about that statement. What? Of course it has never happened before or else I would hope you aren't such a moron that you let it happen again. The idea is to keep it from happening PERIOD. That is like someone stating they are going to the lake to swim and the other saying "be careful." The person looks back and says "Don't worry, I've never drowned yet." Duh! Over and over again I witness non-security minded people insulting trained security professionals. So, I'm thinking, maybe next time to suggest they call "Tim the Tool Man" for help. Of course you can harden and over harden your life. We want to insulate our life from what we perceive as possibly causing us harm. Someone asked me why I want/like to be on alert mentally and physically. The correct answer is "I'm protecting the crook, thief, or violator from me. That's valid, right? I want to get to him/her before he/she gets to me.

Another concern is this. If your property or your possessions have been violated on your property, you have a real problem. Not saying it is your fault because we live in a world today where it seems thugs, creeps, violators, and murderers aren't intimidated and they cross all boundaries to fill their objectives. But, something about you or your family has caught the eye of thugs or criminals and now you are targeted. Our society has a problem with R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Right? Respect for each human and their God given rights and freedoms. Respect for the fact that what is mine isn't yours (thugs). Respect for the fact that laws are written and passed for a reason. Most or many laws are written based on statistical analysis and therefore good for mankind (in most cases). However, if a thief crosses your private property boundary they are way too close to you. You should have previously established multiple layers of warning and alerting barriers. Think about it, when a person walks across your property line unknown to you, then rings your doorbell, do you realize how close they are to your inner circle? They are one door away from causing major damage and physical harm to you and your family. Now think about that. That is day to day life. Now, imagine if the threat goes up and thousands of humans are starving and looking for a way to survive. Knocking at your door is probably not going to happen. But, let's stick to basics. Just remember, how we once regarded "trust" has changed and now how we establish trust in a person should be respectful but scrutinized. Out with the old and in with the new.

I like using the phrase "security-in-depth" and using a multitude of layers as defense. Your property size could impact your ability to deploy some measures however you can still develop degrees of stand-off and alerting mechanisms. Security is a compilation of disciplines. Personal protection, physical security, Operation Security, communication security, cyber security, neighborhood watch, evaluating crime statistics for the local community, identifying your critical resources and prioritizing same, conducting a vulnerability assessment of your resources and property and then mitigating same to offset the determined threat. You get the picture, right? So to what degree does a family go to develop a family security plan for their family and home? I suppose that is up to the family, location, threat and so forth. But, statistics will prove the fact every time that most families fail to give protection a consideration until after the fact. Why? Good question to ask. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard "it will never happen to me" I could build an underground bunker that would house all of us and our extended families. People refuse to do simple low cost steps that will alter past statistics. What do I mean?

Years ago I lived near St Louis, MO across the river in Illinois. There was a 7-11 (stop-n-rob) on the corner about 1/4 of a mile from my residence. The place was robbed monthly it seemed. I always talked to the manager when he was around and I was doing business in the place. He shared the problem with me. So, after a comfort level was established, I explained to him that I was doing a study for a class during my undergraduate program. Using past statistics and information he provided, my goal was to first make the employees and store safer and through that help reduce the owner's business insurance costs by making the store safer. I shared some ideas with him to try and consider. The total of the recommendations cost the manager/owner less than $500 for material and installation. Consider, this was less than one robbery. Simple things like clearing all the toilet paper/motor oil/packaged water from the front window of the store.

The view from outside was now clear through to the inside. Ahh, the robber could no longer conduct the robbery in private while a patron refueled outside. Another measure was to take old oatmeal containers with the lids and paint them black. Install a red mini strobe or penlight in the center of the lid and run a used VCT cable out the back. Drill a small hole in the wall and run the fake cable in to the hole. These posed as video cameras. Then create a sign and place on the door stating the property was now protected by video. Then, rearrange the store to place the cash register where the employ could see the pumps and approach route to the store. Previously, the employees back was to the door. Lastly, establish a duress line under the counter to allow the employ to push when being robbed or threatened. In less than a year the store had decreased theft and robberies nearly 80%. Simple steps, low cost, and positive result.

A home is no different. The routes you drive to and from work are no different. Friends, life has changed and what once no longer. We don't know the earthly future but we do know R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is pretty no longer a player. The threat to you has increased. So, what are you going to do about it? What is around you that could cause harm to you and your family? Have you established your security-in-depth play to some degree? The level of your plan should be driven by known and projected threats to what you are trying to protect. Only you will know that. If you live in the city and your only water source is the water tank or the local river, your security-in-depth plan should not be closer than the point of your water source. If you lose water then what? Just an example of things to consider.

Here is an example of what I'm talking about.

Scenario: On a normal day you drive through your community/town/city. You have given routes that you use daily. In the past, you have not rotated routes to not be predictable. (Hint) You drive down the street and you wave at the little old lady on the corner selling beautiful fresh spring flowers. Your heart is lifted at the thought of warmer weather and spring. Maybe on the way home you will stop and grab some flowers to take home. You are humming to the radio, start and stop, start and stop, light by light. Once again, you silently remind yourself how thankful you are to have returned to your home town 25 years ago to start and raise your family in such a peaceful and slow paced town. You get half way down the street and you hear a whistle coming from the left. It's your friend Bob. You quickly pull in a parking slot and walk towards Bob with your hand out and a smile. Bob teases you that you haven't stopped by to purchase the local paper from his paper stand in a few days. After a few minutes of chat, Bob asks if you heard about the biker group that moved in to the community and had caused a few problems. You smile and tell Bob not to worry that the community has historically been a good place to live. You pat Bob on the back and head towards your car. As you close your car door you hear a very loud roaring noise coming from the top of the town. As you look, you notice 20 to 30 motorcycles in formation cruising through the main street. You think to yourself, "spring has arrived and these must be a group of bikers passing through the community" and you go on to your job. Later in the day as you head home, you stop for the flowers. Ms Smith has a few bundles left. She greets you with her usual genuine smile and asks "are you here for your usual?" Ms Smith leans closer and ask "have you heard the rumors about the new gang in the community? I hear they have been stealing gas over at Lloyd's station." After a smile, you tell Ms Smith "I'm sure it's a misunderstanding of some sorts." Later in the evening you are on your front porch having tea with your family and you hear lots of sirens coming from the downtown vicinity. You take mental note of the loud sirens and state "sure sounds like a lot of sirens." You smile and state "I'm glad we have our gates at the entry way to the neighborhood.

The following morning you go about your normal routine. As you approach the main street you notice Ms Smith's cart on the corner but Ms Smith isn't there. (First clue). You proceed further down the street, start and stop, start and stop, and then you see Bob isn't set up to sale the morning paper today. You think, "that's odd, Bob has been on the street pushing papers for the last 20 years. I hope he isn't suddenly ill." (Second clue) You proceed on through town and as you pass the local morning eatery you notice two county police cruisers and two state patrol cars in the parking lot. Again, you attribute the police presence to the group planning for the upcoming holiday parade. You proceed to work and during your day you overhear two coworkers discussing how a local patron was harassed on the street in front of the hardware store yesterday. The lady who was harassed lives in your neighborhood and her purse was stolen. You wonder to yourself why your wife, Sally, who works two doors down didn't mention it to you the night before. You finish your day and wish your coworkers a great weekend and head home. As you walk towards the parking lot you smile and silently realize how blessed your life is. You have a wonderful family. A good paying job with great coworkers. You are raising your family in the town you grew up in. Then, you smile bigger and pat the hood of your baby.

You are driving your restored 1967 Mustang named Fancy. She was a beauty and everyone around complimented her. You started up the engine and appreciated the sweet purr of the engine. Off you go headed home. As you get half way through main street you stop at the red light. You are thinking about the things you need to get accomplished during the evening. While you wait for the light to change, eight to ten motorcycles pass through the light turning left and rolling ahead of your path. The light changes and you cruise through the light, changing gears as you pass through town. You pass eight to ten blocks and the path is clear. You hear the motor cycles rumbling but oddly they are now behind you. Ahh, they must have stopped for something. You make it to the gates of your community and the bikers roll on past you.

Later in the evening over dinner, your wife asks if you had noticed the broken down motorcycle outside the entry gate. You tell her you didn't. She shares that a gentleman in jeans and a vest was standing at the gate when she was arriving home. The gentleman asked her if she would let him in to walk to his brother's house and that his bike had broken down. She stated she asked the young man the address and it was in fact a street and house number in the neighborhood. So, she kindly let him in. He said he would come back to get his bike once he had some help to fix or haul it to a garage.

End of story.......

Okay, so back to the starts in the community with people and early warning signs to possible threats and problems. Most times you can establish your security-in-depth plan without anyone even knowing what you are doing. You want to know way before they get to you and your personal domain. I'm keeping this really basic and hoping any of you who this may be new to gets the grasp of what we are discussing here. Feel free to let me know if you want to discuss or have more information on. What are some of the early warning signs missed in this scenario?

Please bear with me and do not feel insulted. Like the warning from your doctor says "you should always seek a doctor's advice before doing specific types of exercise"...well, you should also consider local and state laws and limitations before spending time designing a plan and before investing funds to purchase equipment. Furthermore, a plan is not a plan until it is fully tested. Layered security is paramount. Emphasis can't be stressed enough to the importance of planning around what terrain you have to build around and your ability and means to defend the terrain.

Human beings have always been innovative about denying access to intruders. Securing a home is just easier now with the advanced technology and products ready to be installed. However, not every home needs a bunch of "products" to make the home safer against criminal intrusion. Some homes would not be safer even if they had the most advanced technology installed. The home's safety is compromised because of a lack of following security protocols by every occupant. That is what really makes any home unsecured against intrusion. A door that could take the impact of a truck is not secure if the kids and grandma see no reason to lock it. An alarm system so advanced that it would even warn if angry birds were about to fly over and poop on the car is of no use unless it is armed.

The fundamental in this context is a lackadaisical attitude brought on by those who do not wish to be inconvenienced by the need to take security precautions because nothing has ever happened . . . yet. It literally takes only a few seconds to disarm an alarm system before going outside. I have not seen one system yet that occupants will arm while they are home unless it is bedtime. Most systems have a "Stay" and "Away" setting. The stay setting arms perimeter (door and window) sensors while leaving motion detectors and specialty sensors off. Away arms all the intrusion sensors.

Every alarm should be armed at the "Stay" setting when people are home. However, since it takes learning a new routine of disarming before opening a door to go out or to let someone in, it is simply not done. Some indicate it makes a home feel like a prison. Some indicate it makes them look weird to friends, relatives and neighbors to have to constantly arm and disarm an alarm system just to run in and out of the house, especially during the summer months. Summer is for vacations and freedom from school for three months, not having to push buttons to be let out of the house or back in.

So answer me this. Why do we leave the front door unlocked yet we lock the bathroom door to keep our family out while taking a break? Why do we lock our car doors while cruising down the interstate at 70 mph yet we often don't lock our doors at home until we go to bed? If the alarm is off and you spend family time in the back room watching television at night, how do you know a person didn't test your door and come in and hide?

Okay, let's get started...........................

We need to define a few terms that you should know and come to use with your family: cover, concealment, and camouflage.

Cover provides you with just that: a certain amount of protection (depending on materials used) from small-arms fire up to the dam-dam (artillery). Cover places that material between you and the aggressor to protect you from bullets, spears, etc. Some examples are walls, foxholes with sandbags, or log piles.

Concealment, on the other hand, shields you from view, but doesn't necessarily provide you with physical protection from attackers. Examples here are thick hedges, bushes, or screens (such as for a duck blind). You can have both: a sandbagged fighting position (FP) with a hedge having its top running the length of the front parapet and slightly above it, obscuring the FP from view.

Camouflage is the art of blending men or materials with the surroundings: a disguise. The camouflage should be dictated by season, terrain, climate, and whether an urban or rural environment. Obviously if you're in downtown Chicago, you may be noticed wearing BDU's and a head rag. You may also wish to reconsider walking around as a one-man forest with artificial leaves in the dead of winter. The object is to blend into your surroundings as called upon by the moment/time of the year. Last time I checked, you are more likely to find Duck Dynasty fans, dressed as same, in Baton Rouge or Shreveport, vice Chicago or Cleveland.

All three factors can complement and mutually support one another: a protective masonry retaining wall (cover) behind some thick bushes (concealment) with happy flowerbeds in between the bushes. You'll have to take time to carefully spec out what features your property has and what you'll need to add or detract. Remember this rule: do not permit your attacker to be able to use the FP against you in such fashion. This is along the lines of "don't spend your funds building protective measures around your home if you leave your purse and keys in your car and sleep with your doors locked.

Your residence:


Now let's cover windows. Personally, one of my biggest physical security fears is close in perimeter to my home. The 20 ft. distance for the average person to throw a Molotov cocktail against my doors, windows and roof. The windows can be protected by covering the exterior with wire mesh. I would strongly recommend 2"x 3" rectangular wire-mesh/re-wire; either galvanized or coated, the heavier the gauge the better. The wire doesn't obscure any view and can accommodate your muzzle for a firing port (on movable windows that open). The wire will help deflect rocks, grenades, and Molotov's. Remember, most of these measures and devices aren't meant to stop the invading Army but to give you time to implement measures of your plan or time to retreat.

If you have wire that doesn't match your house it can be painted with all-weather p