Real life vs. movies: What you need to know about home invasions

We’ve all seen it in movies and on television: the iconic bad guy, typically wearing all black, sneaks into a person’s home to try to thieve some valuables, only to be encountered by an alert and fully able homeowner, also a tactical expert, who quickly puts that bad guy in his place using an impressive combination of fast-action firearms and martial arts. But is this actually how things go down during real-life home invasions?

It’s something you may not have considered, even if you’re a “prepper” type who’s already loaded up your pantry with storable canned goods and stockpiled an array of weaponry in the family safe for a worst-case scenario. Having a plan of attack in the event that someone tries to enter your home uninvited to steal your valuables and possibly harm your family is important, but so is preparing for it in such a way as to have full confidence that things would go down the way you envision.

Personal Defense World‘s Sam Hoober offers up his take on why real-life home invasions aren’t at all like the ones depicted in popular media. For this reason, preppers need to develop a better plan of attack than to simply try to mimic what they see on the big screen.

Are you confident that you wouldn’t panic during a home invasion?

You can have all of the tactical skills as your favorite action film stars and still not be as prepared as you think you are for an actual home invasion, Hoober warns. That’s because, when things hit the fan, many people have a tendency to freeze or panic, inhibiting their ability to think on their feet and effectively neutralize the threat.

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He points to a 2014 incident in Pocatello, Idaho, as one example of this. A man by the name of Twain Thomas went on a violent rampage in the apartment complex where he lived, breaking windows and entering units with a brandished machete. Video footage captured by a local resident depicts just how frightening the situation was in real-time.

Notice that the man who began filming what was occurring somewhere down the hall before it reached his residence had trouble simply locking his door because he was shaking out of fear – even though he was holding a handgun. That’s because during a real-life home invasion like this, it’s common for pretty much everyone to become paralyzed with fear, making a person less able to engage even the most well-thought-out response to the threat.

Fortunately for this man, he was still able to overcome the threat. In the video, he’s heard yelling to the machete-wielding man to stop in his tracks. When the invader fails to obey these orders, the homeowner proceeds to shoot him three times, protecting himself and his property.

Another example was a home invasion that occurred that same year in Arizona. A woman was taught by her husband how to properly use a handgun, which helped her to neutralize an invader who broke into her home. She was able to remain calm while calling 911 to have dispatchers sent to the home.

The invader made it inside the woman’s home before officers arrived, and proceeded to assault her before she shot him a single time. He dropped to the ground and was no longer a threat, and spent the next month in hospital recovering. He later received a one-year prison sentence and had to serve several years probation as punishment.

“People act differently under stress,” Hoober warns. “You probably don’t know how you will act until the moment of truth … Action heroes are only in the movies. In real life we are more complicated and certainly fragile.”

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