We are once again reminded that tough times are aheaed.
Criminals are getting more brazen by the day. I suspect the untold story is that the police don't have the resources to deal with it and the outlaw element is starting to catch on to this. With home invasions on the rise it becomes quickly apparent that your first line of defense is a decent fence with a locked gate. Preferably something too tall to be hopped over that has something unpleasantly spikey on the top. Barbed wire might be a bit much but it can be handy to have in the shed when things go south.
Having a guard dog as a second layer of defence is beneficial as a deterrent but is not the be all and end all solution. Think of it more as a walking, wagging alarm unit. I don't preach moderation when it comes to dog ownership. Either get the biggest, baddest one you can afford to feed, or get the smallest, yappiest dog you can find. The smaller one is just as good at raising the alarm and probably safer around the kids. Big dogs really are for adult only families or those reasonably skilled at canine training. That fence will also pay off in keeping Fido where he belongs.
The third layer of defence is your house itself. Your windows and doors all need to be revisited with security in mind. Bars over your windows are not always neccesary. A decorative window box filled with small roses or other spiny plants is going to be enough to convince an intruder that the best way in is either your front or back door. What you want them to find is a nigh impenetrable barrier such as this. When it becomes (even more) apparent that your house is not an easy target the intruder is likely to beat a hasty retreat. It would stand to reason that by this time you were in your home's dedicated "safe room". This is ideally the master bedroom, replete with heavy door brace (possibly like the one on the front or back door), charged mobile phone, land line with police on speed-dial, and a well stocked gun safe. You may want a roller shutter that can be activated from inside of the room on the off chance the attacker is truly motivated and decides to go through a window after being thwarted by the door(s).
So there is it. You're safe in the master bedroom with a pistol pointed at the door and the police on the speaker phone. If such a scenario ever played out you'd thank your lucky stars you'd made the investment in your safety and the safety of your loved ones.
For home owners this will only add more and more value to your house as crime get worse and worse. For renters the matter is a little more cloudy. That bigger dog (if you can have pets at all) may be the wiser option. The window boxes may still be reasonable and even common doors can be hardened to some degree. Your security door (if you have one) will be paramount to your strategy. You'll need to keep it locked and by that I mean locked in the way that someone cant rip through the flimsy flywire and unlatch it from the other side. Inconvenient? So is the alternative if you're unlucky. For those with large glass sliding doors I suggest you replace the regular glass with something a bit more durable or replace the doors altogether with something more defensible. For the renters I suggest you hit the real-estate agencies and look for another place to live. Those kinds of doors are a home invaders red carpet.
Of course, the last thing you want is to be safe and sound while your progeny is being held captive outside. Your kids should have well practiced procedures for when a stranger approaches, slowly or at speed. Don't make a game out of it but try to keep it pleasant and practice regularly. If it's made into a game then your kids are likely to freeze in hesitation when genuine fear is introduced into the scenario. They need to understand that your home security practice runs are serious. The more they practice the more they'll fall back on that training in a genuinely dangerous situation. Also, make sure not to demean their response if they run in shouting "STRANGER" because someone's delivering a package. Praise their efforts because that postal worker might just be a home invader in a stolen uniform. After all, several people have been beaten and robbed recently by phony census collectors. Having a slot in that security door for signing paperwork may seem ridiculous now but in six months or a year it may be more common than you think.
For those with remote garage doors you may want to pratice backing the car in. Plenty of home invasions begin with crooks following their victims in behind their cars. Keep the car doors locked until the garage door is shut and be mentally prepared to put it in first and hit the gas if anyone tries to do an Indiana Jones impersonation under your rollerdoor.
Have I missed anything? I hope not. At least this might give you a few ideas to start with, but I'd especially look at that front door of yours. Does it have those nice glass panels in or around it that make breaking in so easy? So many of the home invasion reports I read start with the front door being kicked in, and if you're sitting on the lounge suite watching T.V. and sipping coffee then you're not going to have a lot of wiggle room to work with, are you?
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and try to get a good nights sleep.