Saturday, June 22, 2013

Things that go "Bump in the Night" Part III

Armor your house:

This installment was turning into a book.  And then I rethought it.  The blogosphere is very crowded.  There are many people who are much more practiced at sounding like experts.  If I am going to be able to carve out a niche, it will be plainly writing about things I know from first hand experience.

Get a dog (or two or three).
Get a goodly supply of pepper spray.
Get good doors, windows and locks and many motion sensitive lights.

Get a dog:

There was a time when any dog would do.  That was before dogs became fashion accessories. You might think that Boston Terriers are great watch dogs.  They have fabulous peripheral vision by virtue of having eyes that bug out on stalks.  Furthermore, their eyes are on the sides of their heads so they have almost 360 degree vision.  However, they come with impediments.

They have a speech impediment that makes their most fearsome bark no louder than a large man's hiccup.

They have a size impediment.

They have a personality impediment.  They are friendly, helpful dogs.  They fetch the would-be burglar the house keys, show him the location of the hooch locker while apologizing for the quality and quantity of the contents.
Boston Terrier on left. 

So other than advising the reader to avoid stylish dogs, I really don't have much other advice to give.  I have great faith in my readership's intelligence (Hi Mom!) so I am not going to tell you a bunch of stuff you can figure out on your own.

Oh, there is one other piece of advice I want to pass on:  Don't sic the dogs on intruders.  A professional dog handler once took me to school after I made a wise-elbow comment.  He said, "The dog did his job.  Now you do yours."  He explained that you are as responsible for what your dog does to a target as much as a bullet launched from your gun.  A burglar can turn a botched break-in into a huge payday by posing as a victim in court.  And the court/insurance company will insist you euthanize the dog....for doing his job and yours.  And/Or, the intruder can kill your dog and come back tomorrow night when you are asleep.  Finally, dogs can make mistakes.  Their primary senses are nose, ears and motion.  Wind direction can deprive them of scent.  Somebody walking up the drive does not emit a sound signature as distinctive as a vehicle.  Posture and gait vary; your dog will likely not be able to identify you by your silhouette if you are limping back from a disabled vehicle.

Pepper spray:

Pepper spray makes for hilarious stories about 30 days after the incident.  Buckshot and slugs....not so much.

Some jurisdictions have restrictions on the strength of pepper spray you can use.  This is far more of an issue when you carry it on your person than if you have it on the headboard of your bed.  My gut feel is that most cops will be too busy responding to a home intrusion to worry about the number stenciled on the side of the can you unloaded.

I am going to go out on a limb and recommend the following item:
Police Magnum Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is a tool.  You need to practice to know how to use it.  The recommended product is a four pack so you can take one or two of them outside so every member of the household can get a sense of the valve and the spray pattern.  I also like the valve, it is quite robust with respect to accidental discharge.  It makes a bad start to your day when your wife actuates your can of pepper spray as she flails around trying to hit the snooze button the alarm clock.

Doors, Windows, Locks and Motion Sensitive lights:

These are passive strategies that slow down would be intruders and make them more nervous.

Keep the doors shut.  That includes garage doors.  Use the locks.

Avoid flaunting your 'cool' stuff.  This is a hard thing to do when you have teenaged kids in the house.  It helps if you are as poor as church mice.  Then your kids seem to want to spend much of their time over at their buddy's house rather than troll them through yours.

Be a real person to your neighbors and your kid's friends.  Help them feel possessive about your continued good health.  Send the vibe that they are a member of your tribe.


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