Armed attacks on residential buildings

ataques a residenciasIn the previous Security Publication, we addressed the importance of having a security plan and how to prepare our families to avoid becoming victims of criminal attacks. We said that regardless of its simplicity, a security plan would provide confidence and would allow us to assess and choose the best option when the moment comes. We also said that an inappropriate response before criminals capable of the worst actions safeguarded by the reigning impunity could result in severe consequences and even death.

In this issue we will analyze one of the crimes of largest growth in the main cities of the nation: armed robberies to residential buildings. Picture this: you’re coming back home after a hard day’s work and notice something strange is happening; the door is half open and you’re able to see your wife and kids are subdued by three criminals threatening their lives and hurting them. What would you do? Would you walk in and try to stop the situation? Would you go out and call the police or find help from someone else? Would you face the criminals? Would you try to take them down with your own gun? It is a personal choice, based on your own assessment of your physical and mental abilities, as well as your assessment of the level of imminent danger involved. It is a very personal decision that most people have never even imagined or analyzed or even less, shared with their families.

How will I react in similar circumstances? How will my family react independently from me? How will we react among each other? These are the questions that come to mind because our reactions depend on many factors: gender, age, physical condition, culture, personality, the way we process information, our reaction under extreme pressure, any special training we may have received, our skills and experience to respond to aggression. Most people are certain about how they would respond in a crisis of such nature until it happens and many get surprised in their own behavior after they’ve overcome these situations; it may be heroic, quiet, cowardly, fearless or stupid, but any decision made will be focused on one of the following options:

  1. Bursting in and facing the attackers trying to eliminate them.
  2. Walking in and accepting the situation, staying calm, following instructions and running away if possible.
  3. Going out to look for help.

What works

Having a home and neighborhood plan is essential. If we develop a home security plan and discuss it with our family and neighbors, the possibilities of acting properly and getting help would be considerably high. For instance, establishing alert protocols or signs to identify something abnormally dangerous is occurring in our home and synchronizing them with our neighbors; developing measures to verify what’s happening using keywords, describing complementary actions to be taken while getting police assistance, holding discussion sessions about the preventive measures to be taken with your family and neighbors; if your building or house has security guards, reviewing their pre-established actions for armed robbery situations. Identifying vulnerable points around your residence’s perimeter and reinforcing them with electronic security systems (intruder detection, cameras, electric fence, barbwire). A measure that has been proven to be effective is to install panic-button-activated sound alarms inside guards’ booths or in our own homes to call attention in critical situations. Encourage your loved ones to use the door’s peephole and not to open the door to strangers. Door chains are not effective, so looking through the peephole before opening the door is the safest way. We must suspect of anyone claiming to be making a delivery of an item we haven’t ordered. It is also important to reinforce backdoors, glass slide-doors and garage doors.

Most of the times, confronting and fighting the attackers does not work as expected, and risks the lives of those involved, especially if we’re physically incapable of subduing our opponents. Accepting the situation and following the thugs’ instructions sometimes works, but this option could increase the duration of the robbery and therefore, increase the risk and potential abuse. If this is our choice, we need then to consider how to plan and act accordingly.

Escape plan

To deal with the situation we described before, having a pre-established escape plan is just the right move. If someone is able to escape, that person will be able to get help and the attackers might just run away before the authorities arrive. If we have an escape plan, it is important to make sure we know where to go and what to say. Escaping is justified if in our attempt we only risk minor damages (climbing onto the roof, jumping from a balcony, etc.) and we must weigh up such damages with the chance of surviving the criminal action taking place. Residential robbers sometimes threat their victims with hurting their kids in order to make them meet their demands, but at the same time they pay little attention to children, so they can be the potential saviors in such situations. If the opportunity comes along, a well-trained kid can call the emergency response number, activate the alarm or panic button or escape to the neighbors’.

Stay aware

Keeping a clear mind is quite important, especially in extreme circumstances. If we’re able to maintain such awareness, waiting for the right moment to act, our chances to solve the situation might increase, so it is important to stay aware, thinking and re-assessing the situation as it evolves. In the beginning there might not be any chance of escaping, but after a while, an opening might come up. Fighting the attackers, as we said before, is not the most recommendable thing to do, but in points of no return, situations in which we’d be willing to risk our lives because it depends on it, once we decide to take a shot, we need to make it a quick, sudden and strong punch to the nose, eyes or throat, without worrying about the damage we may inflict. While the aggressor is momentarily stunned, it’s our time to escape. We must not stay put. Escape right away!

What not always works

Screaming and calling for help is the most natural reaction, and almost anyone can do it, but aggressors will be prepared to make us stay quiet, and the first thing we’ll hear will be: “Scream and I’ll kill you!”

Simulating a disease not always works, especially at home. Most of these criminals are not even slightly concerned with their victims’ health, but it is worth trying if we have a script prepared and rehearsed.

Never try to use the gun you have hidden while the captors are pointing at you, unless you feel there’s no other way to come out of this situation alive or that criminals are about to cause a damage to your kid you would never tolerate.

It is convenient to know…

If possible, avoid being moved from your house to any other location; usually, the second place is more violent than the first. If you’re able to negotiate so that the aggressors refrain from tying you up or putting you inside the trunk of a vehicle, do so, that will keep you free to use any kind of defense you may attempt to use. And… finally, if the attackers leave, never follow them. Leave it to the police. Stolen articles can be replaced, a person’s life can’t.

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