You will be surprised how many people are misled by “armchair instructors,” also known as “keyboard warriors.”
When it comes to break-ins, we can do much to prevent them. But using a firearm to defend your property is usually against the law. (Some states have specific laws on the books that allow this in certain situations.) I tell people to leave lights on and have their neighbors do the same thing. The criminal element loves dark unlit homes surrounded by other dark unlit homes. Keep it bright and have your cameras on your property running.
Another thing we can do to prevent vehicle break-ins and theft is to not leave any valuables in them. If they get in and nothing is there to take from you or any of your neighbors in the area you live in, they will most likely not come back to the area. That’s a win for you and the neighborhood. The other side to this is, if you are busy, and leave something of value in there, forget to lock your door, and they were able to get a “payday,” they will be back looking for more. Don’t give them that chance. Change your routine as well because if it was something you have always done but forgot to lock it that one time, they knew before they got there that there would be something good there for the taking.
What if I catch them in the act?
I caught someone in the act and what I did was try to get them to look at the camera. I pounded on my window. Unfortunately, they were wearing a mask. He looked, slipped, and fell, trying to run. He was gone by the time I got to the door, probably hiding in the neighbor’s dark-lit yard. I let them know the police were on the way and that the video would show the police anything they took.
That was the best-case scenario I came up with. Knowing that if I had shot him, I likely would have been convicted of a crime. Shooting from the second story of my home at someone stealing property is illegal and listening to the “keyboard warriors” advice of “drag him back in” would have given me more time behind bars with extra charges to stack.
This scenario is the same for detached garages unless you are occupying them. If you are in there and are working on something and you hear glass break while inside, you may be justified in using a firearm to defend yourself because you do not know what the people breaking in want to do with you. Again, this all depends on the laws in your state (i.e., Stand Your Ground Laws).
On the other hand, if you are in your home and witness someone breaking into your garage, you should just be a good witness for the police when they get there. There are several reasons for this.
- Is there only one person, or do they have accomplices that you aren’t aware of? Are you paying attention to how many voices you may be hearing?
- Is the person(s) armed with a weapon you cannot see?
- To a prosecutor looking for reelection, there was no reluctance on your behalf to pursue unarmed men with a gun to protect your property you were completely safe from in your home.
Some may argue that they have “Stand Your Ground” laws available to them, but that refers to you being attacked and does not protect you trying to save the “phone or $50” you left in the vehicle or your detached garage.
There are many other reasons, but I want to keep this short as possible!
The difference between home and property changes once the home is breached. If you are staring at a creeper with binoculars from across the street or from your flower garden, remember, it is just property they are trespassing on. Call the police and just be a great witness.
Once someone breaches the front door of your home and crosses the threshold, if your state recognizes or holds in law the Castle Doctrine, you may defend yourself and your loved ones in the home. Some argue that you should retreat to one room and defend that room. Their reason? Well, here is the reason I mention this. Unless you have a camera system that shows you everything in your home, you will not know where all the “bad guys” are or how many there actually are, which would be very helpful.
The best thing to do is to create a plan with your spouse/partner and family on when the glass breaks or the door gets beaten in.
You can find information on creating a home defense plan by taking the course “Concealed Carry and Home Defense Fundamentals” with Gunpowder & Lead, LLC (Firearms Training). You can find us at Gunpowder and Lead Training or use the USCCA Find Instructor Search to find an instructor in your area that offers this course.
At the end of the day, when it comes to property, remember this: Is it worth dying or going to jail over?
And on the other hand, when it comes to our lives and the lives of our loved ones, that question will be the last thing on our minds, that is where having some kind of self-defense liability insurance to help us out, even if we have the Castle Doctrine in our state. We all have homeowners and car insurance to help when something goes wrong. You should include self-defense liability insurance as well.