Written by: Greg Ellifritz
I’ve recently noticed an increasing number of crime reports in my newsfeed where victims were shot through the door of their home while answering a doorbell or looking through a peephole. A simple Google search on the term “shot through door” will yield over 90,000 hits. It happens with an alarming frequency. Check out the link below for an example of one such shooting:
It pays to protect yourself any time you hear a knock at your door. Here are a few tips….
1) Lock your doors. Make sure you have quality deadbolts with long (at least two inch) screws securing the door hardware to the frame of the door. Keep your screen or storm door locked as well. Almost any residential door can be opened with enough force. Usually just one or two strong kicks or hits with a sledgehammer is all that you need to break in. But screen doors usually open OUT. They can’t generally be kicked. They need to be pried. If your attacker doesn’t have a pry tool, he’s out of luck.
2) Verbal Challenge. Many homeowners will just stay silent and ignore the suspicious knock on the door. I think this is a bad idea. Most of the burglaries I investigate start with a knock at the door. The burglar doesn’t want to encounter an armed homeowner. He’ll knock at the door before he breaks in just to ensure there is no one home. When you don’t answer, he goes around to the back side of the house and breaks in.
Ignoring the knock at the door could actually INCREASE your risk for burglary!
A better option is to loudly ask “Who is it?” Even a “Go away!” would suffice if you aren’t in the mood to be bothered.
3) Don’t backlight yourself. If you decide to check the peephole, make sure all of the lights behind you are turned off…even in the daytime. As a cop, I watch the peepholes of the doors I knock on. When people look through a peephole with a light behind them, they appear like an eclipse. The shadow they create is clearly visible to someone outside. That lets the potential attacker know exactly where you are and gives him a target to shoot at if he so desires.
4) Don’t stand directly in front of the door. When conversing through the locked door or checking the peephole, you should be standing to the SIDE of the door, not right in front of it. If you are standing in front of the door, you will be struck if the criminal kicks it in. If he shoots blindly, he will tend to shoot toward the middle of the door.
It’s best to stand on the “long wall” next to the door. From the inside, you will generally have one side of the door with a longer wall and one side with a corner. You don’t want to limit your movement by standing in the corner. Get to the wall side so that you have an escape route.
5) Don’t open the door if anything is suspicious. This goes without saying, but I see crime victims violate this rule all the time. You don’t need to open the door to “see what’s going on.” Trust me, there are some things you really don’t want to see. If there is suspicious activity outside your door, seek cover and call the police.
6) Remain alert. As mentioned in point number two, sometimes criminals will knock on the front door and then break in the back. Occasionally, teams of criminals use the knock as a distraction technique. While you are dealing with the potential threat at the door, the second criminal is entering the rear of the house. Any time I get a knock at the door I use the windows to conduct a full 360 degree scan of my house, looking for additional threats.
Follow these rules. If you do, I won’t be seeing you in my newsfeed under a headline that says “Homeowner Shot Through Door.”
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