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Home Invasion Defense Tactics

Home Invasions…”I don’t like ’em, they’re scary!” That’s what my wife said when I was talking to her about possible article topics. But really, that is how you should feel about the topic, too. Home Invasions are one of the fastest growing crimes and are become somewhat of a trend among career criminals.

What is a Home Invasion?

A Home Invasion is much like a burglary…only much worse!! It is a forcible or unwanted entrance into your home while you or a family member is present. They are usually accompanied by any number of additional crimes and often go on for several days before deciding to leave. Consider the following statistics regarding home invasions:

3,600,000 – Home invasions each year between 1994 and 2000.
8,000+ – Home invasions in North America each day.
38% of assaults occur during home invasion.
60% of rapes occur during home invasion.
1 in 5 homes will experience a home invasion or break in.

Home invasions are one of the most dangerous crimes, often resulting in violence against the victims. Violent crimes in general have steadily increased for more than 20 years. According to the Bureau of Justice statistics on violent crimes, you have a 126% chance of being a victim of violent crime. So do your children. This does mean that some people will be victims multiple times while others will not, but how do you take steps to ensure that you are in the right group?

Many people think that a security system will protect them from violent crimes within their homes. I can tell you, as a Military Police Officer and Sheriff’s Deputy, there is little chance that law enforcement will respond quickly enough to stop a crime from occurring. The average response time for a 911 call is 26 minutes. While sad, there is a very high frequency of false 911 calls, and so officers rarely race to get there. Most agencies have policies against speeding to get to a 911 call, even when violence is being reported.

Others claim that their martial arts training will protect them. Sadly, this is woefully inadequate in most real world encounters. Are you prepared for multiple attackers taking you by surprise at night when many still have difficulty clearing their mind enough to respond appropriately? This does not even consider the fact that most of these violent encounters involve weapons on the part of the attackers.

But the most popular response to protecting your home from violent crime is having a gun readily available and being trained to use it. I’m an advocate of the second amendment and strongly encourage anyone who can own a gun to do so and learn how to effectively use it. But is having a gun enough?

home-invasion defenseFirearms for Home Defense

Home invasions are fast paced and chaotic. You won’t know if there’s one attacker or many. Depending on the layout of your home, you may leave your family vulnerable by unknowingly allowing an attacker to bypass you while you clear other areas of your home. There is a high probability that you may find the attacker between you and your family, even if they are on the other side of a wall, restricting your ability to shoot due to the threat of over-penetration.

If you have a family, your home defensive plan probably looks something like this: We are alerted to a threat, your wife (spouse) gathers the children and calls the police while holding a firearm as a last defense, in case something should happen to you. You grab your handgun or shotgun, and begin clearing your home to ensure that there is no threat.

Now let me ask you a question: With you by yourself, are you really prepared to take on several attackers with weapons of their own? Please put away the bravado for a second and, for the sake of your family, really think this one through. Are you willing to rest the safety of your wife (spouse) and children on your ability to single-handedly clear your home if there are actually multiple attackers present?

Think about that long and hard, because if it ever happens to you — and the chances are increasingly greater that it will — you do not want to make the wrong decision here.

Here is another question to think about: if a special operations team were going to enter your home and clear it, would they send one guy, or a team? Can an individual highly trained operator conduct this task at peak performance alone? Unless you are one of these few men, then soberly consider your own limitations and what failure means to your loved ones.

Family Protection: When You’re Gone

Let’s pretend that you are Rambo, capable of taking on vast hordes of Vietcong, zombies, and home invaders with ease. You have millions of rounds of ammunition, several strategically placed mini-guns and you even decided to set up some claymores under your porch; just in case. No one is getting into your home and harming your family on your watch…

But what about when you aren’t there? “I will always be there,” you reply with confidence. Really? You don’t go to work? You don’t travel for your job? You don’t take overnight hunting or fishing trips with the boys? Will you really always be there?

What about when your wife takes a trip to the mall alone in the evening.(delete) Some dear friends of ours just had a terrible experience where the wife was kidnapped in a car, driven around for several hours, and then dumped back off at the mall. Terrible situations like this happen. Are you sure they will never happen to you?

How can you, as a loving protector, ensure that your family will be safe in your absence? The real answer is that you can never fully ensure it, but you can certainly take steps that give you and yours a much increased level of protection.

Dynamics of a Home Invasion

In the military, when we were planning for operations, one of the most important questions to answer before determining a course of action for our mission was the enemy course of action. We would lay out their most likely course of action (what we thought they would actually do) and their most dangerous course of action (what could they best do to defeat our efforts?). Before we get too deeply into the things that you can do to protect yourself and your family in the event of a home invasion, let’s discuss for a moment what a home invasion actually looks like and how they are successfully carried out.


The most frequent method used by gangs and other small groups is to approach a house and have one member approach the door.

home_invasion entry

The others in the group (usually 3-5 guys) will hide nearby to quickly get in the door, but will try to remain out of sight from the resident answering the door. When the first member reaches the door, he first checks the door to see if its unlocked, and if so, they will push their way in quickly, usually taking the family members by surprise. If they find it locked, they will usually ring the doorbell. As soon as the door is unlocked, they open it as forcibly as possible, usually knocking the person answering the door on the ground and get inside the house as quickly as possible. Once inside the house, they try to use threat of force to quiet and restrain the family members. From that point on, everyone in the house is extremely vulnerable and bad things happen.


You leave the door open and/or the home invaders use violent force as an initial means of entry. If this occurs, all occupants should stop at nothing to resist and fight. This is usually an indication that they will eventually cause serious harm and even death to all occupants of the home.

Tactical Application in Home Defense

In my next article, we will begin to get into some of the specific things that you can actually do for home invasion defense.

For now, it would be a good idea to try to evaluate and work through your house and family vulnerabilities. If you have time list them out. If you have specific questions, list them in the comments of this article. I will try to address each through this series of articles…

About Joel Ryals

Profile photo of Joel Ryals
Joel is the founder and head trainer of Dunetos Training Programs and Dunetos K-9, a training facility and equipment manufacturer specializing in practical & tactical training for personal security and K-9. He’s been training and handling dogs for over 10 years and works closely with Baden K-9, a highly respected training facility in Ontario, Canada. Joel has served in the United States Army for 12 years as a Military Police Officer deploying to the Pentagon days after the 9/11 attack, Afghanistan (2003), Iraq (2007) and Bogota, Colombia (2011) in the War on Drugs. Joel has specialized in tactical training and integrating dogs into every aspect of life, from personal obedience and protection to specialized military application. www.dk-9.com

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  1. Personally, I’m a bit confused. This from the Bureau of Justice page: “BJS coordinates with other Department of Justice statistical programs, such as the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program and National Incident-Based Reporting System”

    Now I found that quite disconcerting that a government agency, supposedly coordinating with other government agencies, would come up with crime figures that are nearly opposite. At issue was the claim in the article that violent crime was up 126%. The article claimed: “Violent crimes in general have steadily increased for more than 20 years.” Yet a visit to the BJS statistic shows the opposite. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vvcs9310.pdf

    The BJS figures are supported by the FBI Violent Crime statistics found here which show a steady decline in violent crime. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/violent-crime/violent-crime

    Anyone have a reasonable explanation for the article’s blatant inaccuracy? I’m all for practical effective self defense, but have a low tolerance for unsupported claims.

    • Profile photo of Joel Ryals

      Chuck, I have a couple of thoughts on these ideas because I used to adhere to the declining crime rate statistics. But over the last few years, I have found the official statistics may not be as reliable as I previously believed.

      The longer I have spent time in law enforcement (12 years active duty military police and 6 years with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office) I have realized two things. There are liars, then there are really bad liars, then there are statisticians. You can find statistics to support anything. But my experience is that the stats showing a rise in violent crime is accurate and those showing a decline are being messaged. Here are the reasons, as a Sheriff Deputy we were constantly warned about calling robberies robberies. We were told not to call burglaries burglaries. Don’t call that battery a battery. Our supervisors were requiring a change in classification because their federal and state funding is dependent on their ability to continue to look like the crime rate is declining. I have been directed on numerous occasions to not report any crime at all if it was apparent that we were not going to have any solid leads, leading to a high probability of arrest.

      In addition, finding reliable statistics is very difficult, but here are a few of the sources that I used for the statistics in the article:


      Finally, the other issue at hand that makes these things difficult to nail down are definitions. That is why I tried to define what it was that I was referring to by the term Home Invasion.

      No doubt that contrary statistics can be found. And I would agree with someone who claimed that the stats may be cooked a bit at both ends depending on the agenda. But my experience causes me to lean in the direction of the increasing statistics, especially for home invasions. Home Invasion seems to be a trending crime and increasing more very recently, which is the reason I have written on it on this and other sites in recent years.

      I will try to add more of the links into my articles in the future, especially when referencing statistics.

    • Profile photo of Joel Ryals

      Chuck, as I was reviewing the article again, I realized that you must have also misunderstood something. The article does not say that crime is up 126%. It says that you have a 126% chance of being a victim of violent crime. Now this is a straight mathematical statistic, and assumes an even playing field, which does not exist. But it is used to show that there are more violent crimes than there are people, and the chance of being a victim of a violent crime is very high.

  2. Joel,thanks again for another great point. Regardless of the stats, this is a situation we need to be prepared to handle. I look forwrd to our next article.

  3. Joel, thanks for verifying what I have long suspected regarding crime statistics. It seems like more and more crime is taking place as I keep tabs on various alternative news sites and yet I’m being fed the line that crime is in decline. Kind of like unemployment is dropping and the economy is recovering.

  4. I hear you. I used to work in “sector eddy” of the “four-one” in NY (as a teacher). Years later I heard the crime stats went way down in that precinct. I met a cop who had worked there more than a decade later and he said they got the crime stats down by splitting the precinct and making it into two precincts ! LOL . I guess that’s one way to do it .

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