Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Home Insecurity

We must have made quite the picture. Armed with baseball bat and bed rail as we snuck cautiously down the stairs inch by creaking inch. Who - or what - was in the house?
It started out as a peaceful, quiet evening. Isaac was spending the night with friends, Dwayne and Anna-Rose were fast asleep. The last one up, I had gone to bed around midnight, leaving doors and windows secure and lights off. Lying in bed reading, as is customary for me, I suddenly heard the jangle of the bell we keep hanging on the back door. What? Was Isaac back home for some reason? I scrambled out of bed and hurried to the head of the stairs calling his name. No response. Going down a few steps more, I shouted, "Isaac???" Nothing. Okaaaay......time to wake Dwayne up.
"Dwayne, I heard the back door!" Dwayne gets up, dresses quickly, and asks in hushed tones what we can use as a weapon. Uhhh....nothing? No, wait....there's a short metal bed rail in the attic. Armed with this less than deadly piece of weaponry, we both creep quietly down the staircase, pausing every few seconds in our descent. Isaac's room is off the hallway by the porch door, and Dwayne leaves me holding the bed rail while he sneaks into the bedroom and grabs an aluminum bat. Back in the hallway, he motions me to follow him into the living room. Step by step we move and pause, move and pause in the dark as we tiptoe toward the kitchen. Silence. (What happens if someone attacks Dwayne? Knocks him out? Shoots him? What am I going to do with a bad back and a bed rail? These thoughts race through my mind as my heart pounds.) Adrenaline is at an all-time high, and I learn what it means to literally have knocking knees!
Oh, the value of memorizing Scripture. The Lord envelopes me with His words, "You will not fear the terror of night......" Dwayne picks up a shoe and throws it into the kitchen hoping to startle someone into movement. Nothing. Again we move stealthily forward until we are in the kitchen doorway. Dwayne tosses his other workboot towards the dining room. All is still. Finally we are in the kitchen and he flips the light on and moves to investigate all over the downstairs and basement. It is vacant and silent except for the sounds of our heavy breathing and nervous chuckling. I have been known to make jokes in extreme circumstances, even while in transition during childbirth, and once again my humor rises to the occasion as I wryly inquire, "I have only one question.......12 gauge or 20?"
Beneath my frail attempt at humor lay fear, helplessness, and anger. We had no way of protecting ourselves and our home. No phone upstairs. No form of defense. No dog to bark and warn us. In our laxity and foolishness we hadn't even changed the locks since moving in. Which brings me to the point of this post. That night we had a lesson in preparedness, or rather, the lack thereof. This has been a popular topic on many blogs from time to time, and generally has addressed the methods of providing for ones family in the event of being cut off from the technology on which we are so dependent. Home security and defense is another area of preparedness - one in which we have personally been negligent up until this week.
We still don't know what happened that night......did I scare someone off? Could I have imagined the sound? All I know is that I never again want to experience those same feelings of defenselessness and violation.The next day Dwayne went out and bought new lock sets for the doors. The day after that he and Isaac drove up to Maine to a trading post that sells a wide variety of firearms. They came home with a Remington .20 gauge pump action shotgun which has been placed in an easily accessible but safe location in our bedroom. I'm breathing a little easier now although Isaac is still a bit nervous, perhaps because his bedroom is downstairs. I'm interested in hearing from other bloggers on this topic. Please share similar stories and advice on what you do to keep your homes the safe havens they should be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Morning Emily,

I'm sorry to hear about your scary experience--but maybe it was a blessing if it got you thinking of preparation for 'what if'.

I've never had the experience of being confronted with an intruder but have had random things stolen on rare occasions. We live in an area the people seldom has any human threats. I don't even have a lock on my cabin door.

I've always lived with a 'guard' dog. Even a little 'yippy' lapdog makes a great early warning system and can scare an intruder off very early in his attempt.

I've always had a big dog that has been very gentle and 'non-threatening' when I'm around but when I'm gone, people have said that they've been intimidated by my dog when I'm gone.

I had a beautiful dalmation who was very territorial and a wonderful companion. Sadly, he had a massive stroke and died in January. Now I'm looking for another companion.

As a toddler growing up on the western prairie, we had a dog so protective of us that he would attack and kill rattlesnakes.

As a boy, I had a collie cross dog that was my shadow and companion where ever I went.

I don't ever walk out into the woods (rare sightings of cougar, bear and wolves) without the health center dogs running 'S' curve patrols around me. Even now, the health center's St. Barnard sleeps at my door.

A shotgun may be a good choice for home security but would you really be willing to harm or kill another human?

Having a bell on the door, turning all the lights on, making a lot of noise when you hear something, shouting out "get out now, I have a shotgun!!!" and doing anything else to scare away the intruder seems a safer plan than "sneaking" down the stairs to surprise the intruder.

Of course, the greatest 'safety' is prayer and trust in the Lord.

May God watch over you and your family during these scary times.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Herrick Kimball said...

Hello Emily,

The 20-gauge shotgun is an excellent home self-defense tool. It can also be used to shoot a rabid animal in the back yard. I recommend that YOU learn to shoot it too.

I know several people who keep a LOADED shotgun in the bedroom, but I wouldn't recommend that. I suggest instead that the gun be upstairs, unloaded, in a place where you can get to it quickly, with ammo nearby. I have practiced getting the gun in the dark and loading it. It can be done pretty quick if everything is where it is supposed to be.

Years ago I spent some money and a couple days taking a course on "The Judicious Use of Deadly Force" from Mossad Ayoob. He is a police officer and lives somewhere there in New Hampshire and is the author of a book called "In The Gravest Extreme," which is a good book about the subject of self-defense.

I hope and pray never to be in a situation where I have to use a gun on another person. But if my wife or children are in danger from a home intruder, I would not hesitate to defend them.

A basic dog is a great idea too, especially with children. A dog is an excellent early warning system, if nothing else.

Best wishes.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Hi Emily,
Thanks for sharing your story -- and a very scary one at that! I felt nervous just reading what you experienced. Our family needs to discuss what we would do in this type of situation, as we are very isolated up here. We never had any intruders while living in the city, but had plenty of vandalism. That too made me feel violated and helpless.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I think the shotgun is the best choice. According to the NRA, just showing a gun will ward of criminals 80%-90% of the time. I wouldn't like to shoot anyone, and probably would go for a leg unless they actually were threatening my (or someone else's) life.
My family has studied the subject of self-defense for quite a while from a biblical perspective. If you'd like any of that information we'd be happy to give it to you!

8:38 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Thank you, everyone!

Yes, in a way, our experience was a blessing in the way you describe. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way I guess. I hope I make it clear to anyone reading this that using a firearm against another human being would be an absolute LAST resort for us. We would never sneak around with harmful intent...having a gun, however, does give us a sense of security should it come to the point of self-defense. You are correct in stating that these are "scary times". Your suggestions to make lots of noise and threats are good ones, and I agree that a dog makes a good alarm. We have been talking about getting one for a while now. Thank you for your insights and prayers!

Yes, I do plan on practicing handling and shooting the shotgun. There is a gun club right down the road from us which we are planning on joining ASAP. Another local organization is SigArms Academy in Exeter which conducts a variety of training courses for everyone from citizens to law enforcement officials. Mossad Ayood.....hm, sounds familiar. We'll check that book out. I agree with you...I hope we never ever have to use that gun but it's there just in case. We don't keep it loaded either, so it is a good idea to practice as you have done. And I do see a dog in our future...any breed suggestions? Thanks for your wisdom and prayers.

Yes, it was scary. How much more scary had there actually been a confrontation with someone! I can't even imagine. I am so grateful that Anna-Rose slept through the whole ordeal. We are going to have to go through some drills here since we were so totally unprepared. Now I know why troops go through so much training...so they can react automatically without thinking through every action.

I can't even visualize shooting at someone with the intent to kill, so I would probably shoot to render someone harmless, too, unless our lives were in danger. Yes, I would definitely be interested in your family's studies. Thank you for the offer! I believe your mom has my email address if you could send the information that way; I'd appreciate it very much.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Patti said...

Praise the Lord for your safety! We have always had a large dog or two and we keep firearms. I agree with learning how to use them and keeping them unloaded.(the firearms not the dogs:) We also have a couple of geese in the yard that are a very good early warning system.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second the motion on geese!!! In may ways, they are even better than dogs for an early warning. Dogs can be bribed with food and made friends with. There is no way you can bribe or make friends with geese!!!!!!

I grew up in an area where firearms are a normal part of life and not even questioned as to why a person has any. You can still see rifles hanging on gun racks on the rear windows of pickups. Our state also has one of the lowest crime rates in the nation.

May God bless!

10:18 PM  
Anonymous HolyMama! said...

good old fashioned home security system, 24 hour monitoring.

i hate it that you went through that!

1:30 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Patti & Steven,
I thought of geese, too. My mom recommended getting a couple but Dwayne is not real keen on the idea (although after this incident he may think about it a little more).

Good idea! We may in the future consider the security system but it is not feasible for us financially at the moment. The shotgun will serve a dual purpose as Herrick mentioned: personal protection as well as defense against four-legged predators. I'm sure once we get some poultry that our property will become much more attractive that variety!

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an experience. I might have some pointers that I learned when I was a cop in the Air Force. First of all if you don't know how to use the gun then it's useless, because it could be used against you if you have problems. Also if you shoot you better kill you ever it might be. If you wound them then they can turn around and sue you for shooting them. Even though it's your house. Simple things to change. First your routine. Trun lights on in rooms that you don't usually go in at certain times. The light timers really work great. Most robbers will actually stack a house for a few days to see your routine. So the best thing is to change a routine, and get an animal. Most people think of a big dog. You can also can get a cat. Cats have been shown to be more agressive than some dogs. A plus cats will eat any mice that you might have. I hope this helps you out. Later. PJ

3:06 PM  
Blogger Northern Farmer said...

Wow, quite the story Emily! I won't offer any advice because you've gotten plenty from all the others, darn good advice I might add.
As for us, 12 gauge double barrel, unloaded, with shells (double odd buckshot) within reach. I can have it loaded instantly in the dark. Will cut an intruder in half.


8:47 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Gentlemen, thanks for your input!

I always hold advice from military men most highly so I appreciate your tips. Never even thought about changing our routine. We are definitely creatures of habit around here. Looks like we'll be getting a dog. We did have a cat but she was next to useless. OK, she WAS useless! :)

Thanks for sharing. Remind me not to sneak up on you in the dark! ;^D

10:07 AM  

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