Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Surviving Disaster: Home Invasion

This week's Surviving Disaster episode is about home invasion/kidnapping. Here's what I learned:
  • There are 8,000 home invasions daily in North America. Targets are often selected at random.
  • The odds of your family become the victim of a kidnapping/home invasion are increasing.

Burglary scenario:

  • When you hear unexplained noise in your home, don't ignore it, you need to respond.
  • When it comes to your safety, it is always better to over react.
  • Call 911 first if you are going to confront an intruder. Use your home phone if possible so the address will show up on the dispatcher's screen.
  • Wrap a pillow or jacket around your arm for a shield and bring something to attack the intruder with.
  • If using a bat, you can jab with it but its hard to swing at someone with it in confined spaces.
  • If more than one person is at home you need to confront the intruder as a team.
  • Usually an intruder is a burglar, give him some money and he will probably go away. Try not to force the burglar into a more desperate situation.
  • If the burglar grabs you and holds a knife to your throat; push the knife and elbow above your head and drop down giving the police a clear shot (the cops should be at your door by now because you called them earlier).

Planned Invasion scenario:

  • If the phone line is cut and you hear a loud crash you are probably facing an intruder who has been stalking you.
  • If you can escape, don't confront the intruders. If you can't run because there are people watching the outside, stay inside.
  • With multiple armed intruders, cut off the power at the fuse box to distract them. Call 911 via cell if possible. If the cell is jammed you won't be able to call.
  • Usually entry is made by the armed intruders in a way to shock and scare the home owners.
  • Set up a defensive perimeter in the room. Try to have two people grab one intruder holding the gun away from the group and pressing on the carotid artery in a choke hold until the intruder passes out.
  • With multiple armed intruders you may be overwhelmed and taken hostage.
  • Experienced kidnappers will use brutal force and shock to gain control of the situation. In this situation, be passive and non-threatening, act weaker than you are.
  • The basic planned kidnapping scenario is: stalking, entry, control, event, kill hostages, escape.
  • In the control phase you will be held hostage until the kidnappers get what they came for. At this stage gather intel...names, plans, what do they want, etc.
  • They may use the women and children they are holding to control the men. They may also separate people as a form of control.
  • Zip ties are usually used to handcuff the victims. Put palms together, palms down, and flex your chest to keep the zip ties loose enough to escape from later.
  • Try to figure out why you are being held hostage (ie: senior bank officials, or other high value targets are often what the intruders want (called human keys) as they can be used to access to banks or other targets).
  • Usually high value targets are stalked for weeks to determine their habits and schedules (in other words, always pay attention to your surroundings, vary your routine, and watch for people who are watching you).
  • Plan your escape. Ask to use the bathroom if possible, and find something to cut your way out of the zip ties.
  • Loosen zip ties by using a shim to bypass the teeth on the zip ties. Once this works, tighten up the zip ties and hide the nail/razor/etc when you go back to the group.
  • Plan: use car remote for diversion with panic button, take off zip ties, barricade yourself in the room you are in, then escape through the window. The floor will creak less if you walk by the wall. Even if your family is still held hostage if you must escape and call the police.
  • Use a PLF--parachute landing fall (keep legs together, don't land straight down, arc like a banana, roll out of landing covering head) when jumping from the second floor.
  • Don't let your guard down, a well organized crew may have counter surveillance outside.
  • If your escape attempt fails, they will make an attempt to reassert their control usually through violence. Note, if they kill a hostage and they take off their masks, it is a good bet they don't plan to leave any witnesses.
  • You must always keep your emotions in check and continue to plan your escape.
  • The human key will be taken from the group while the other captives will be left at the house.
  • Watch the kidnappers to see how they are communicating (ie: text messages every 15 minutes). Note that if a message is missed this may signal that the operation is complete or aborted. This may also be a signal for the kidnappers holding the people at the home to kill the hostages and cover their tracks.
  • If you are the human key and you are tied up and put in the trunk in order to transport you to a second location, try to get free using sharp edges, the jack, or other item to cut yourself free from the duct tape.
  • Rip out the wires attached to the brakes and tail lights to signal police.
  • Most newer cars also have a car latch release (older car trunk latches can be released manually), when the car slows or stops, get out and run for help.
  • If you are being pursued on foot, get rid of highly visible clothing (white, red), and run unpredictably to make yourself a difficult target to be shot at. Put time, distance, and a natural barrier between you at your pursuer. Run to a crowded area.
  • If you are the human key and are being driven at gun point to another location and you are driving, drift towards other drivers or blow through a stop sign to attract attention.
  • If the police stop your car, hand the officer the wrong an ATM card when asked for your license, act like you ave been drinking so the officer will ask you to step out of the car, you can then quickly tell the officer what happened.
  • You may have to make a decision--either stall so the text message can be sent or alert the police in which case the message won't be sent and your friends may be killed.
  • Back at the house, if the text message isn't received, the captive group will need to ambush and escape because they may have no other options.
  • Make a friction saw with your shoe laces--looped over both boots and around the duct tape on your hands then pedal your feet back and forth to generate friction to cut through your bindings.
  • Make an L shaped ambush, one will distract the person while the other attacks. Look for something that one person can use to distract the kidnapper (a fire extinguisher for example) and something that the person who will attack can use to hammer away at the kidnapper's head and eyes (a sharp shoe for example). You will need to incapacitate the kidnapper in order to make your escape.

Again, another good show full of useful tips. While each situation will be different, the more information you can gather (ie: by watching this show, reading, and practicing) the more likely you will be to have the skills and information to survive such a scenario.


  1. Where the hell did you come up with the idea that there are 8000 home invasions per day in North America?

  2. That was the figure quoted in the opening of the show. I am guessing that the term "in North America" may include Mexico and/or it could mean home robberies/burglaries as opposed to only violent home invasions since anyone coming into your home whether you are there or not is an "invasion". I checked out http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cvus0604.pdf for federal crime data for 2006 in the US. During that year there were 1,024,030 forcible entry household burglaries and 455,530 completed robberies in the US. Stats usually sound quite impressive but generally they can be twisted to support whatever claim you are making. It takes quite a bit of research to drill down to the specifics of what you are researching.

  3. I saw the show as well - I thought it very good. Down here, home invasions. Bankers or other important people, not so much. In fact, most of the people hit are poor folks who live in country, far away from LEO patrol areas. Mostly at night, usually one large vehicle like a Tahoe / Suburban.

    Very hard to fight or defend against them, multiple break in points and family terrorized - drugs, money or jewelry which is on site is the target. So far, no one murdered for sake of 'No Witnesses'. Family members beaten and threatened of course. Could very well be Mexican Cartels - I'm pretty sure its spilling over down here from across the border.

    Most of the people living out in rural areas seem to have these measures - hurricane fence with barbed wire on top, a mercury light on outside pole at least one location, sometimes two at opposite corners. And a few dogs, more than one, something where if one barks, the others gang in as well. And the ubiquitious shotgun or rifle behind the door - that pretty much covers it.

  4. There are not 8000 home invasions a day. That is insane. This same figure shows up online as 8000 a year in the US. They are rare.

  5. Does anyone know where I can download Surviving disaster episodes? I've been to SPIKE website but it keeps showing Sorry, this video is unavailable from your location (I live in Cambodia)?

  6. Today people are so much concerned about surviving in the disaster. But really people need perfect for doing this. . People should be well-known about surviving in any disaster and also need perfect survival aids