New Violent Criminal Threats to Your Personal Safety

Pistol pointed at your face
A pistol pointed at your face.

While most of the news has been covering the coordinated mass robberies of high-end stores in California, this is only the tip of the crime wave. What is not being talked about is the rash of follow-home robbers and mass home invasions. These crimes target individuals instead of stores and attract less news coverge.

These new criminal techniques, often conducted by organized gangs, may herald a new and increasingly dangerous wave of crime. While high-end stores and high-net-worth individuals are targeted today, as they increase their security, criminals will turn their attention to targets that are less well protected. Increasing levels of crime by well-organized criminal organizations that seem to carry out their work despite the best efforts of police are part of the trend I’ve mentioned before: the U.S. is becoming more like a third-world society every day. Soon there will be rich people living in walled enclaves with professional security and there will be the rest of us, just like some Central American countries.

Like any threat, it is best to prepare before it strikes. Today, we’re going to cover each of these crimes and how you can prepare to face them.

Mass Robberies

Mass robberies of stores ranging from Home Depot to shoe stores to Nordstrom’s often play out like this: A dozen or more cars pull to the front of a store and unload scores of mask-wearing criminals wielding hammers, crow bars, and sometimes firearms. These criminals swarm into the store, their volume and overwhelming any store personnel and security guards. They use the hammers and crowbars to threaten store personnel and to smash open display cases and steal merchandise. As quickly as they strike, they rush out, hop into the waiting cars and speed away.

This combination of flash mob and smash-and-grab robbery works in part because there are so many people. Even when police nab a couple, the vast majority get away. Standing up to this mob is impossible.

It would not surprise me if the success of large-scale looting during protests and riots combined with lax laws prohibiting shoplifting in California and other jurisdictions taught criminals that coordinated mass robberies can work even when there is no riot.

What You can Do

In most cases, individual shoppers are not harmed in mass robberies of retailers, although a few individuals in stores have been robbed. My recommendation is that if you are shopping and hear screaming or shouts, head quickly towards the back of the store and look for dressing rooms, employee-only doors, emergency exits, or other ways to get out of sight. If you hear gunshots, evacuate the area.

If you are carrying a firearm for self-defense, it is not your responsibility to stop the robbers. Use your gun only to protect yourself or someone else from being killed or grievously injured.

Mass Home Invasions

Reportedly, mass home invasions are also taking place. These differ from traditional home invasions in that there are more criminals involved. In a mass home invasion, a group of robbers targets a home of someone thought to deal in cash or who lives in an expensive house in an exclusive neighborhood. The home invaders often break in via multiple entrances at once. If the house is unoccupied, eight or 12 people can steal a great deal of property before police or private security can respond. If residents are home, they are usually threatened with violence until they hand over money and valuables or open a safe. Often, they are forced to give up their ATM cards and PIN numbers.

If you dismiss the threat this kind of attack represents to you because you are not rich, then you are taking a chance. They might target you when things take a turn for the worse because someone knows you are a prepper. Someone might target you because an HVAC contractor saw your gun safe or because a delivery person knows you get heavy packages from coin companies. Maybe a hacker has tapped into your credit card records and sold that data to a home invasion crew.

How to Protect Yourself

The first rule in preventing a home invasion is to not make it easy for them. Don’t open the door just because someone knocks. Make use of doorbell and similar cameras to know who is out there and to talk to the visitor remotely without unlocking your door. Make sure you are following good security practices and never leaving your door unlocked. Follow all general safety practices, such as upgrading the locking hardware on your doors and using good exterior lighting.

The sad truth is that almost no home’s doors and windows can withstand an attack by several guys with sledge hammers. If someone is intent on breaking in, they probably can. The only way to protect yourself in that case is to have a safe room they cannot break into or to aggressively fight back using lethal force. While most of us do not have safe rooms, I believe all preppers should have guns. The questions then become, how quickly can you access your weapons, and do you have the training to effectively engage multiple targets?

We’ll cover the use of firearms in self-defense in greater depth below.

Follow-Home Robberies

The LAPD calls follow-home robberies a “new crime trend” and says that many victims are targeted because they drive expensive vehicles.

In a follow-home robbery, two or more criminals in a vehicle spot someone out in public who looks like they have money. They can base this on what someone is wearing, where they ate dinner, or where they went shopping. The criminals then follow the intended victim home. They then rob them as they are getting out of their cars, sometimes following them into their garages. By getting the victims’ keys, they can often gain entry into their homes to commit burglary or steal their victim’s vehicles.

How to Protect Yourself

First, be aware enough to know when someone is tailing you. If you think you are being followed, don’t go home. Drive to a well-lit public location, or call the police, report your concerns. Then make arrangements to drive to a police station.

Second, if you have a garage, back into it instead of pulling in. When you back into your garage at night, your headlights light up anything in front of you. This gives you an opportunity to see any attack forming and may make the robbers thing twice. Again, situational awareness is critical. Close the garage door and call the police if you see anything suspicious. Keep in mind also that your gar is a large, multi-ton weapon. If someone approaches your vehicle while pointing a weapon at you, you have the option of running them over.

Finally, be prepared to defend yourself. In addition to carrying a personal firearm, consider having a more powerful weapon in your car. I bought my first AR-pistol to carry in the car after I saw this video:

The immediate fearful retreat of the pistol-packing criminal convinced me that the impact of an AR or AK pistol was worthwhile.

Your Right to Self Defense

The increase rate of murders in cities attracts the headlines, but violent robberies have also increased in multiple jurisdictions. I don’t know whether it is caused by the success of looting at last year’s riots, the defund-the-police movement, or it is just the outgrowth of criminal gangs looking for new money-making opportunities. I do know that you and I need to be prepared to defend ourselves.

The first step to protecting yourself with a firearm is to know and understand the laws in your state that determine whether you can legally defend your home from someone breaking in. The “Castle Doctrine” allows this, but in some states you must first retreat and shoot back only as a last resort. According to Wikipedia, thirty states have “Stand your Ground” laws that do not require you to retreat. Eight states have case law supporting the right stand your ground. Twelve states require you to retreat, if possible, before defending yourself.

The second step is to determine if you are ready, willing, and able to take another life. When I first strapped on a pistol, I knew that doing might one day result in my death or that I might kill someone else. I decided the risk was worth it. I will willingly confront death to protect myself, my wife, and my kids.

If a handful of armed people are kicking in my door or sledgehammering my windows, the obvious conclusion is that they are not there to sell me Girl Scout cookies. The very act of breaking in has identified them as criminals. I’m going to meet that kind of a deadly criminal assault on my house and my person head on.

Only if you are willing to do the same should you buy a firearm.

The Role of Firearms in Self Defense

It’s important to know that a gun is not a magic talisman and its mere presence will not keep you safe. In fact, if you cannot use it effectively, its presence might escalate the situation. You need to be trained. Thankfully, there are many organizations that provide firearms training to civilians and people with concealed carry permits. After you receive your training, you should practice to keep your skills up. I recommend practicing scenarios in which you draw your gun, engage multiple targets, reload while moving to cover, and then engage more targets.

Whether it is four guys or a dozen at your house or car door, they are counting on their overwhelming numbers to subdue you. In many situations caught on video, when the home owner opens fire, the criminals run. Why? Because they are there to rob you, not to get killed. When you meet them with force, what might have looked like a criminal team working together towards a common goal often becomes a group of individuals running for their lives. If they run off, keep your cool. Don’t shoot the ones running away in the back. Don’t shoot the guy bleeding on the ground unless he points his gun at you. Catch your breath, make sure you are OK, and call the police right away.

This preceding advice assumes we are not in the middle of a SHTF scenario in a world without the rule of law. If there is no law enforcement to arrest you, then take whatever steps you think are necessary to protect yourself, your family, and your property. Regardless of the scenario, having firearms training and a plan will work in your favor.

Pistols vs Rifles vs Shotguns

I subscribe to the theory that the purpose of your pistol is to defend yourself while you fight your way to a more powerful long gun. If your front door is being overrun by multiple attackers, a high capacity pistol is better than a five or six-shot pistol. No matter how big your pistol is, a carbine or shotgun is going to be more powerful.

I tend to rely on shotguns with extended magazines that hold at least eight rounds for close-in home protection and have additional rounds on the gun ready to reload it. There is nothing wrong with a carbine and a 30-round magazine if that is your preference. Either should allow you to put up a stiff defense.

Remember, you are a single defender facing overwhelming odds. Your only chance of living through this attack may be stopping and driving off the attackers. This is best done be meeting their assault with an equally overwhelming response.

An Example

Today my wife and I drove to the outskirts of a liberal city and did some Christmas shopping. We carried three pistols between us. In the car was an AR pistol equipped with a red dot sight, single point sling, and loaded with a 30-round magazine. Two other loaded magazines were with the weapon. No one followed us home, which was admittedly a 90 minute trip through a mountainous region that would likely have deterred any city-based criminals.

Was our loadout overkill? Today it was, but that doesn’t mean it will be tomorrow or next year.

Remember, you don’t get to choose when the earthquake hits, when the nuke goes off, when a volcano erupts, or when a criminal targets you as their next victim. As a prepper, you need to be prepared to survive them all.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like We Arm Up.

New Violent Criminal Threats to Your Personal Safety