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Handle the Home Break-In With Your Trusty Flashlight

Aug 17, 2007
There is nothing more frightening than hearing a strange sound in the night. How do you investigate the bump in the night as safely as possible? What should you do to keep your family safe? I want to give you solid tips developed over years of tactical military and law enforcement training on how to safely investigate occurrences in the dark.

The most important thing that I can emphasize to you is to call the police. Investigating potential break-ins is their job and sworn duty. You pay for this in the form of taxes. So if you hear that odd sound in the night and you think someone could be trying to enter your home or property, call the police.

Now, if you are anything like me, you hate calling the cops. I won't sit hear hovering over my keyboard and try to relay to you that this is a good trait. It is a foolish macho behavior. Unfortunately, I am stricken with this silly macho curse.

I have been in military and law enforcement for quite some time. Even with this background, I should not hesitate to make that 911 phone call. But, I do.

So, if you have decided to take the Lone Ranger approach to investigating those bumps in the night to protect your home, allow me to give you some expert tips. These tips are more tactical than anything. What I am going to tell you is a combination of tactical military and law enforcement training adapted to my personal preference and style. These tips are not designed to defeat an intruder; simply to investigate and determine if help is needed.

I do not encourage apprehending intruders! Do not try it. Let the pros do this. All you should be doing is ensuring that there is in fact an intruder present, gain information about this intruder and contact the authorities.

The first thing that goes into anything you do in life is to prepare and plan. I will not get into depth on planning in this article. Stay tuned, I will be going into depth in a future article on planning your home security.

Now, the quick and hasty plan should include flashlights placed strategically throughout your home. You do not have to spend a fortune on flashlights. You can purchase some fair priced lights just about anywhere. I would caution you on going too far to the cheap side though. You do want a flashlight that is reliable.

You should ensure that your lights have spare batteries and bulbs stored in the same location. If you have three flashlights stored about your house, ensure that there are three sets of batteries and bulbs stored with them.

You should emphasize to your family and any inhabitants of the home that these are emergency flashlights. If removed, it is imperative that they be replaced. A weekly or bi-monthly inspection of the lights should be completed.

I would recommend storing your flashlights in the kitchen, living room and master bedroom at the least. We spend the majority of our time in these locations.

Ok, the let's move on to the nitty gritty.

You are in bed with your spouse. The kids are long asleep, finally. You are snug in your pillow waded up beneath your head. The cat is at the foot of the bed in a good spot not to be in the way of your feet.

Suddenly, you hear a faint noise downstairs. For some reason, this noise raises your instincts to a heightened level. You are wide awake.

Always follow your instincts. They were given to us for survival purposes. Instincts keep us alive. Do not allow yourself to second guess. It takes little time to simply investigate.

You look over at your spouse who is still sleeping soundly.

Another bump at the backdoor widens your eyes. You are not certain, but it sounds like someone may have entered.

At this moment, you should awaken your spouse. Immediately call the police or have your spouse do it if you are prepping to investigate.

You should never hesitate to awaken your spouse. It is always wise to have two sets of eyes and ears involved in the security of your home.

Now, I want to warn you sternly. Criminals that break into homes at night when they believe that occupants could possibly be present do not mind harming you. Keep that in mind. Be prepared for the worse at all times.

Again, I told you to call 911. However, the Rambo in all of us wants to take care of this on our own. I do not advise this, but if you do so anyway, pay attention to the following guidance.

Ensure that your flashlight is in your off-hand. What is an off-hand? This is the hand that you use the least. If you are right handed, the flashlight goes in your left. Do not click the flashlight on at this time.

Walking about in the dark with an illuminated flashlight is what some of us in the tactical business would call a Jedi. You are bumping about with your light saber on full glow. Everybody and their favorite dog can see you, but you can't see them. Not good.

So, keep that flashlight off. This will also maintain your night vision. The bad guy down stairs will most likely be operating in the dark. He will have is night vision in place. You don't want to be the only one blind in the dark. That is bad news.

Move cautiously. Do not be in a hurry. When we are scared and operating on adrenalin, our fine motor skills are almost non-existent. Your brain is focusing on keeping you alive by taking in every vision, sound and odor. The mind looses its ability to focus on your balance and such.

The flashlight should be gripped underhanded and held at about hip level away from your body. Let me explain why you should hold the flashlight away from your body. If our uninvited visitor is armed with a firearm, and you hit him with your flashlight beam, he may shoot. Instinctively, he will aim at the most obvious; the source of the light beam. So, keep it away from your vitals.

While moving in the dark, utilize your peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is very aware of movement. If you notice a movement to one side, do not immediately turn to face it. Rapidly turning your head will cause you to loose focus of what you have seen.

The tactical way to investigate seeing movement in your peripheral is by coming into a crouch. This will make your body into a smaller target should something be assessing you. Freeze in place. Continue to utilize your peripheral to examine the movement for a few more moments.

If there is no further movement from the earlier alert, turn and observe. Make these movements slow and deliberate. Eliminate rapid motion and the appearance of surprise. Seeing something with you peripheral vision is always worth investigating. So, do so.

The most frightening of the investigation is the encounter. When you come upon the intruder, prepare yourself to be assaulted. To do this, keep your empty hand, or weapon hand at chin level to protect your face. This also keeps your defensive strong-hand in position to engage if necessary. Chin level is optimal. The reason being is that your motor skills are diminished. You should be able to see everything you do in a tight box right in front of your face.

Keep your flashlight away from your body and light up the target intruder. You should close your weak eye before doing this. This will preserve your night vision in one eye should the flashlight be knocked from your grip and shut off. Ensure that your light beam hits the intruder dead in the pupils stripping him of his night vision.

Immediately, turn on any lights within the area without taking your eyes off of the intruder. Ensure that you keep your shoulders squared to the bad guy. This will enable you to react quickly and balanced should he engage you.

You will be very scared at this moment. So, to use your voice forcefully, attempt to lower it. Speak from your gut boldly using very simple commands.

"Do not move!"

"Show your hands!"

"I am armed and I will shoot!"

"The police are coming!"

At this point, the intruder will either panic and run or freeze. If he runs then you have taken care of the problem. Do not pursue or attempt to apprehend him. That will put you on his turf along with subjecting you to a possible lawsuit. We all know that the justice system has an odd way of protecting criminals from law-abiding citizens, but let's not get on that rant right now.

Your objective was to eliminate the threat. Also, your objective is to observe the criminal. You should consciously look the criminal up and down while in your view. Mentally note things like gender, height, weight, ethnicity, clothing color and style, accent and anything peculiar that may make him easier to identify.

Law enforcement will need this information to locate and arrest this thug. So, your information is extremely vital.

Now, earlier I mentioned that the criminal may freeze. This is not a good thing and should bring your awareness up several notches. I cannot caution you enough on this reaction by an adversary. It is likely that he is looking for a good moment to overcome you.

You should immediately attempt to put a large object between you and the criminal such as a table or even a chair if that is all that is available. Continue to watch his eyes. The eyes tell all. They will widen or set sternly if he is about to charge or engage you. If you see this, sound off. Make you voice boom.

"Do not move!"

Don't wait for him to charge you before speaking. You should continue to boom orders keeping him off guard and unstable. This is a tactical must. Order him to interlock his fingers on his head.

Do not stop talking. Question him. You do not want this thug to have a moment of clear thought to formulate a plan. You must keep him talking or distracted. Tell him to face the wall. Order him to his knees and tell him to cross his ankles. Get him off balance.

Do not approach the bad guy. I don't care if you are a kung-fu guru. You need more than one set of hands to handle someone. It is rare that even police officers single handedly take people into custody. There is a reason for that.

Keep the thug distracted with orders, questions and such until authorities arrive.

Good job! Keep home security on the top of you list of family education. Do not allow yourself to believe that something like this could never happen to you. Always be prepared.

Be safe.
About the Author
William "Cole" Doggett is an expert in knives and owns a successful Internet based website, Knife & Supply Company, LLC at
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