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Old July 12, 2009, 02:03 PM   #1
Dabull
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Attempted Break In

I am typing this to solidify in my mind what I have learned from this incident, hear your suggestions, and perhaps allow others to learn from this incident as well.

To set the stage: it's 2:56am and 9 days before my wife and I move out of our home to another state.

We hear glass shatter. My wife yells "what was that?" We both have handguns (loaded, unchambered) within reach (no kids), as well as a phone, but I leave them behind when I investigate because we are packed up and I assumed something breakable had fallen over, or something big had fallen over and broken our window.

Next door to our bedroom is the kitchen and that's where I see that the vertical blinds are swinging slightly--suggesting the sliding glass door window was broken. This is doubly puzzling since I see no glass on the floor and there is nothing in the room that could have fallen over to break the glass. Through a gap in the swinging blinds I see broken glass on the patio and a brick.

I tell my wife to call 911, chamber my Glock 21, and take a barricade position just inside the bedroom door. My wife is on the phone with 911 who is vectoring a unit to us. She has a chambered Taurus 24/7 with her. At this point, I do not know if the break in had failed, if it was a diversion so others could enter through another window, or if one or more people will try to enter again. I am thinking multiple armed intruders since only an unarmed idiot would attempt to break into an occupied house in Texas. (Upon telling my neighbors what had happened, the majority said something like, "if somebody came into my house, they would get shot.")

I felt adrenaline, but not so much that I felt jumpy or out of control. My wife later said the same thing. Much to my surprise, two separate units arrived within 5 minutes. 911 said help had arrived and then hung up. I was hoping they would provide a more positive handoff to the cops, but they did not. I waited until I saw flashlights and heard the cops talking in my backyard and patio before we put the guns away. (More on this later). One cop then knocked on my front door and I opened it.

The cursory investigation showed the muddy tracks of a young adult on my patio (I had watered the lawn that night). A brick from the neighbors retaining wall was on our back patio. The would-be intruder had thrown the brick at my sliding glass door, but it had only shattered the outer pane before bouncing back. It did bow the glass or door sufficiently to bend the frame and disturb the vertical blinds. A search of the area did not reveal any other signs of the intruder. The cop said it was likely criminal mischief rather than attempted burglary or home invasion. While the neighborhood has slowly grown seedier, there is very little crime in it. My neighbors later commented that there were several gangsta types in the neighborhood and they tend to come out at night.

The cop took my info and asked if I wanted to press charges if they found somebody. I said yes and he appeared surprised that I would...I think because he had made it clear that the likelihood of finding somebody was slim, and now somebody would have to investigate further anyway (and this would be months from now due to a backlog of cases). By the time the cops left, it was about 4:30am. My wife and I dozed and watched TV for an hour or two until it was time to get up for work. That night and the next day, my wife and I discussed our actions.

1. Initial reaction. Glass shattering is not a normal house sound at 3am. I should have grabbed the Glock and passed the phone to my wife immediately, then attempted to evaluate the house by listening for intruders while barricaded and phone at the ready. Had the glass broken completely, one or more armed intruders could have been outside my bedroom door in seconds as we were the first door on the right (no hallway...we open into the combined dining/living area). I am not sure if my decision to explore the house first was a product of my being asleep 5 seconds ago...I did feel wide awake and the adrenaline was starting. I am concerned that my wife's exclamation of "what was that" combined with my spidey-sense hinting that it was possible that something could be amiss was not sufficient to compel me to grab gun and phone. I didn't even think of them. It is almost as if I forgot they were there.

2. House exterior. My wife and I are penny pinchers. We never turned on the porch or patio lights. In fact, the light by the garage/backyard gate was burned out. We didn't even know how to turn on our backyard security light. When our neighbors turn on their security lights, they light up our front and backyards (we are a ranch, our neighbors are both 2-story homes). We failed to notice that they had stopped using their security lights...possibly due to hard economic times. Unlike most of our neighbors, we park both our cars inside our garage. We keep the blinds closed at night. We have no lights on inside the house when we sleep. In retrospect, it is likely the intruder thought the house was vacant or its occupants were on vacation. Other factors: the gate to the backyard was not locked though there is a place for a padlock. The gate opens to the side of our house where there are no windows (on our neighbor's house) facing our house. An intruder can enter our backyard unobserved. The area behind our backyard is a drainage area that is overgrown with vegetation. It is not hard to scale our fence due to electrical boxes on either side of the fence...you can climb onto one, leap the fence, and land on another.

3. Weapons Handling. When the cops arrived, I put my Glock away and told my wife to safe her 24/7. She said she could not. She handed it to me to try and the lever would not move to safe. I turned on the light and saw that the pistol was not in full battery. In the excitement of the moment, she had rode the slide forward while chambering a round, and the round had not chambered properly. It was slightly nose up so the gun was not in full battery. It would not have fired if she needed to use it.

We had a lot of sleepless nights as we packed up that week. Was it criminal mischief? Did some kid do this on a dare? Did they do it in revenge for some perceived slight? Or did a burglar find an occupied house rather than an unoccupied one? Perhaps the intruder was unwilling to give more warning to me and the neighbors by re-throwing the brick to break the other pane of glass. More ominiously, maybe they were testing our alarm system (we don't have one or a dog, but we do have a security system sign outside our front door) or they were testing the cops' response time. (I am happy they arrived so quickly...perhaps it would deter someone who was watching...especially if they thought we had an alarm system. By the way, according to the cop, break-ins in our area tend to be smash and grabs during the day when people are at work. They come in through the sliding glass door and ignore the alarm--just grab what they see and get out within a minute or two before anyone can respond).

In any case, we had to prepare for the worst. We fixed our lights and learned how to use them. We told our neighbors to watch out for each other. Since we were moving in days and did not care about how the house looked inside, we placed boxes in front of windows and doors so anybody who tried to get in would have to deal with a maze of obstacles while we barricaded.

We also started thinking about the house we would be moving into. We will have an alarm system. We will use our existing exterior lights and add motion-activated security lights. We have a neighborhood watch and already have relationships with some of our neighbors. The house itself is deep inside a development that is difficult to escape from without being seen. The phone will now be beside my wife's bedside. My wife will spend more time at the range with her 24/7.

We sleep better now but will never forget the shocking noise of shattering glass at 3am.
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Last edited by Dabull; July 12, 2009 at 02:15 PM.
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Old July 12, 2009, 03:10 PM   #2
Webleymkv
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Generally, I think you came to most of the right conclusions when looking at this in retrospect. A few things that should be pointed out however:

1. Never ever investigate a bump in the night unarmed. I can think of few things that would be less pleasant than coming face to face with an intruder armed with nothing more than harsh language. Also, flashlight should be within reach of both you and your wife and used when investigating strange noises.

2. I see no reason that your handguns could or should not be kept with the chambers loaded particularly if you and your wife are the only occupants of the house. If, for some reason, you don't feel comfortable keeping the chambers loaded on your particular handguns, I'd reccomend considering a different weapon platform that you feel comfortable keeping in a better state of readiness. Given the unpredictable nature of these situations, a gun that can be easily brought into action with one hand is preferable.

3. Make your home as difficult to break in to unnoticed as possible. An alarm system is a good idea but I know that this isn't always financially possible. Sliding glass doors are a particular area of concern as their locks aren't always particularly sturdy and an individual of moderate strength could probably pull hard enough to break the lock. In my house, we keep a 2x4 cut to the appropriate length wedged lengthwise between the slider and the frame at night to prevent this. An intruder could, of course, simply break out the slider or a window but this makes much more noise and would most likely, as it did in your situation, alert you to the intrusion. Other exterior doors should be either solid wood or steel and fitted with deadbolt locks.

4. Reinforce your barricade position. Definately fit your bedroom door with a lock and use it if you take up your barricade position. Also, you may want to consider adding a longarm such as a shotgun or carbine to use in your barricade position. Finally, keep a cell phone close by in addition to your land line. A clever intruder may cut phone lines prior to breaking in.
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Old July 12, 2009, 05:33 PM   #3
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I couldn't agree more. Great job on your conclusions. Have a game plan for any situation that can arrise, and stick with it. Noises in the house are not investigations for you. Like Webleymkv said, barricade and arm yourselves in your room and get on the phone with 911.

I recently had a scare similar to this. I have a two story house with motion sensors all downstairs, and sensors on all doors and some windows. 3 am, alarm goes off. I am upstairs sleeping and it takes me a second to figure out what is going on. As soon as I figured it out, I jumped into action with my plan that I had thought through.

1) Shut bedroom door
2) Grab shotgun, pistol, and phone
3) Chamber round in shotgun and call 911
4) Set up shop behind my bed with shotgun pointed at door and pistol laying beside me, 911 on speaker phone
5) Inform 911 of name, address, what is happening, where you are in the house, and that you are armed
6) Wait on reinforcements, keeping 911 on the phone while authorities are en route and while they search your perimeter
7) a) If all is good and there is no break-in, tell 911 to tell the authorities you are unarming yourself and coming to the front door
b) If all is not good, throw key (with breakable glow stick) out to authorities and tell them to check downstairs ONLY, re-iterating that you are armed upstairs, with a possible armed burglar in the residence.
8) Play the rest by ear...there is no telling what will happen after this. Communication is KEY...up to the second updates if possible.

Turned out my rear motion sensor went off, possibly someone who tried to peep into my window to see what I had that they wanted. I only got to 7a, which I am perfectly happy with, but I had made up my mind that I might have to defend myself with deadly force that night. It was a real eye-opener, as I am sure yours was. Thanks for sharing your story, hope mine can offer some more insight.
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Old July 12, 2009, 06:08 PM   #4
rshanneck2002
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you can buy small battery operated door and window alarms for $10 ea and the battery last for a yr or more.,they dont use any power unless window breaks or someone pounds on your doors., sportsmanguide sell some rather cheap $150 or less video mointering cameras that hook up to your tv, i know because i had problems with some teenagers awhile back and installed all of the above equipment around my place and the last time they banged on my door i took their pictures on camera thru video and when the 120 decibal alarm went off it scared the crap out of them.,turned out it was local kids looking for kicks at 11pm at night.i prosecuted all 4 of them thru the DAs office and much didnt give a rats behind about it when the boys parents tried to talk me out of it.they had done it several times and i believe would have keep it up had they not been caught.it also turned out the 2 older ones had been involved with several B&Es in the area involving tools in peoples garages.i also told his dad this., it a bleeping good way for his kid to get shot,period. im almost to retirement and i dont plan on having a bunch of smartasses rip me off,its not a good feeling when someone screws with your home late at night and i was armed.i have found that lights turned on deter alot of crap and learned alot about security after these incidents,never gave it much thought until then and i live in the country.it aint just the citys problems anymore?if it ever was.in all my yrs out here never had a problem then bang.,kinda wakes you up! quick. its been quit the last yr or so.
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Old July 12, 2009, 06:59 PM   #5
rshanneck2002
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i also bought a phone which ties into my land line,when i leave on vacation i set it to call my cell no matter where im at it runs on motion detection and i can listen to what goes on in my house 200 miles away and decide if its an intruder and call the local sheriffs dept and my neighbor quite quickly i might add.so far the only persons its caught is me and my wife returning from vacation,but it gives give a bigtime piece of mind while im away.cost only $60 from sportsmanguide but there are better companys.just go to their site and type in security and do a search,you might be surprised at the low cost of home security these days?its alot better then nothing thats for sure.
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Old July 12, 2009, 07:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
We never turned on the porch or patio lights. In fact, the light by the garage/backyard gate was burned out. We didn't even know how to turn on our backyard security light.
Just for reference, running a 100watt incandescent floodlight 12 hours a day in TX costs, on average, less than $5 a month not including the cost of the light itself.

If you want to just run a single incandescent 60watt bulb 12 hours a day you can do that for less than $3 a month.

Go with one of the new CFL outdoor floods and you can get that number down under $1.25 a month.

For those not in TX, unless you live on the East Coast or in CA, AK or HI your average cost will be less than what I've calculated.
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Old July 12, 2009, 07:52 PM   #7
rshanneck2002
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that why i like motion sensing floodlights set for 5 minutes then off,the phone is made by a company called TeleSpy.biz just got off of their website, i must say this,it didnt cost me nowhere that much off of SG. you ever have trouble at your home late at nite it surely will wake you up to current matters in our sociaty,i miss the old days when you could leave the front door unlocked,im afraid for sure those days are over for good.
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Old July 13, 2009, 01:21 AM   #8
Dabull
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Quote:
Also, flashlight should be within reach of both you and your wife and used when investigating strange noises.
Yes, we added those to our nightstands after the fact.

Quote:
I see no reason that your handguns could or should not be kept with the chambers loaded
Prior to the incident, I was not sure how groggy I would be when I had to act. I was afraid I might have an AD while grabbing for the gun. Now I believe if a situation arises where I need to act, I am definitely awake. Maybe time to leave them chambered. If the wife agrees, as I do not want mine to be chambered and hers to not be...in case we ever need to use the other's pistol.

Quote:
we keep a 2x4 cut to the appropriate length wedged lengthwise between the slider and the frame at night
We have something like this too. And we started using it after the incident.

Quote:
you may want to consider adding a longarm such as a shotgun
Have a shotgun, but no buckshot. Will be fixing that problem too.

Quote:
Finally, keep a cell phone close by in addition to your land line.
Yup...getting a cell to backup the landline. Had one during the incident, but it was a work one that required a password logon...not very quick to use. Appreciate all your input Webleymkv!

Quote:
running a 100watt incandescent floodlight 12 hours a day in TX costs, on average, less than $5 a month
Thanks for the info JohnKSa. I knew it wasn't much (we use CFLs also), but seeing the real numbers puts it all in perspective. Paying for an alarm system and lights is a no brainer now.

@rshanneck2002...I hope to incorporate many of your features into my security system.

Thanks all...and eager to hear more opinions and advice!
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Old July 13, 2009, 04:27 PM   #9
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I have floods that light up the entire yard and parking spots n our farm. Plus some dogs.

Dogs went off last year. hit the floods 2 young guys run away a car leaves, I go out to find a brand new 5 gallon gas can and a new rubber hose. glad I didnt shoot them kids, I sure would have felt bad as I did that stuff way back in the 60s when I was a kid.
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Old July 13, 2009, 08:31 PM   #10
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Two things you might want to consider:

1. Replace the burnt out light on your patio and maybe keep it on for a few nights until you feel safer. If not, keep it on all night if it makes you feel better. Small price to pay for your safety and your wife's safety I would think.

2. You might want to consider purchasing your wife a revolver (.38 Special) instead of the automatic. As you and your wife found out, automatics out of battery will not fuction properly. You certainly won't have that problem with a revolver. Also, no safeties to worry about (like on the automatic). In an emergency situation like you just experienced, things like that happen if you are not 100% familiar with your weapon, (sometimes happens even if you are). With a revolver she can just point, aim and pull the trigger (if she has to). Much easier in a crisis type situation. Glad you both are okay and good luck.
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Old July 13, 2009, 11:40 PM   #11
Dabull
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Hi Skydiver,
We fixed the lights and did end up leaving them on all night. BTW, the incident occurred late June...we have since moved and are working on the new house.

My wife has shot her dad's .357 but prefers autos. She has a Makarov and a Taurus 24/7. She was listening for intruders in the far side of the house when she chambered a round...so she "rode the slide" to be quieter. She didn't realize it might cause the gun to feed improperly (which it did). We've worked on that already.
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Old July 14, 2009, 12:25 AM   #12
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Thanx for sharing your story. I think you told it wonderfully, not only that, but you made great self observations... and I think I'd agree with everything you concluded.

The only thing I can really say though is.....

Your Wife needs a different defensive hadgun... The 24/7's are not reliable enough for me in that kind of sittuation. Sure it's better than nothing, and it will probably work. But I've had a 24/7 jam up on me, and the owner of it told me it happens what seamed to be quite a bit.
Now, not to boast. But my XD will always chamber the round, any round. always, I could ride the slide back and I'm sure it would slide right into the chamber... (I'll have to test that)

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Old July 14, 2009, 01:09 AM   #13
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Great job handling yourselves. The only things I can consider for suggestion (since you're asking):


1. Leave the guns loaded and chambered (for me, safety off too). Every handgun I own is left that way for piece of mind: I know every handgun I own just needs to be pointed and squeezed. No fumbling with the safety, no chamber checks if time won't allow. Pick it up and go bang.

If the wife had needed her gun with the round not properly going into battery it would have been disastrous. If hers was already properly chambered, ready-to-rock, it would've been better.


2. Outside lighting. Very important, whether you're at a ranch style home or the middle of suburbia. Everyone pinches pennies, but with the options for LED's and florescent now-a-days, no excuse. My rented home has 120watt equivalent florescent bulbs at all exterior fixtures. My fiance's home with her mom has motion lights with florescent spot lamps equipped.

One good perk is if you turn the interior lights off with a bright exterior setup, you'll be able to black out the interior to the outside world. Almost a one way mirror affect with the dark interior and bright exterior. Won't always work out that way, but it's one of my thoughts.

We're buying a home for the two of us now, and it will have security lights at all corners that can light up all walls.
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Old July 14, 2009, 03:30 AM   #14
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The cop took my info and asked if I wanted to press charges if they found somebody. I said yes and he appeared surprised that I would...I think because he had made it clear that the likelihood of finding somebody was slim

Slim to none, is what he meant. Like, zero.
The cops will not lift a finger to investigate this crime.
We had [note past tense] a nice rental house in Atlanta, it got burglarized 5 times, the cops always took at least a half hour to arrive at the scene of the crime, and they never lifted a finger to try to catch the bad guys. Never took a fingerprint, nothing.
The thing was, there was a small "gangsta" neighborhood just 5 blocks away, and there was NO DOUBT that the bad guys lived in that neighborhood. There were only 200 houses in that little neighborhood. I told the cops that they almost certainly had the prints of the robbers in their own files.
It didn't matter, they would never take a print.
On one occasion, the robber's belt had broken off, I found a chunk of his belt on the floor. Looked like evidence to me.
I handed it to the cop, he just tossed it in the garbage.

As for the problem with your wife's gun, what are you doing giving a semi auto to a female?
Get real, and get a nice .38 revolver for her.
Simple is better than complicated.
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Old July 14, 2009, 08:06 AM   #15
Al Norris
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Originally Posted by simonkenton
As for the problem with your wife's gun, what are you doing giving a semi auto to a female?
Get real, and get a nice .38 revolver for her.
Simple is better than complicated.
How do I break this news to you, Simon?

Women, can operate and shoot anything a man can. Don't think so? Ya don't get around much, now do ya!?

The one thing we try not to do, here at TFL, is to divide us, as owners and shooters. Attitudes like the one displayed above, will get you sacked from this board.
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Old July 14, 2009, 08:28 AM   #16
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Antipitas post:

Well, I have to agree with Antipitas.

Women can certainly shoot and handle any type of pistol that a man can handle. My wife is an excellent shot with her Glock 19 and even likes to shoot my Wilson Combat .45 auto, (she carries a S&W mod. 60 in her purse).

Its all in how you are trained and how you practice, (with any weapon). Using a revolver is just simpler is all, (less complicated, no racking a round, out of battery, jams, etc). However, if properly acquainted and trained on any automatic, a woman can do just as good a job. "Go Ladies"..........
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Old July 14, 2009, 09:04 AM   #17
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Women can certainly shoot and handle any type of pistol that a man can handle. My wife is an excellent shot with her Glock 19 and even likes to shoot my Wilson Combat .45 auto, (she carries a S&W mod. 60 in her purse).

Its all in how you are trained and how you practice, (with any weapon). Using a revolver is just simpler is all, (less complicated, no racking a round, out of battery, jams, etc). However, if properly acquainted and trained on any automatic, a woman can do just as good a job. "Go Ladies"..........
Absolutely true, all of it.

I saw an episode on one of the gun shows last week in which a young lady who had switched from CAS to what I think may have been IPSA was showing her stuff with a long-slide semi-auto. She said she started training about two months before a match, shooting a couple of hundred rounds every day.

That said, some people have trouble racking the slides of some pistols, and there is apparently an issue with limp-wristing with some people.

One also reads that some women--and some men--don't like the recoil of a lightweight snub revolver. Heck, I don't either! However, my wife did just fine with my Model 642 with 130 grain non +P loads last week.

Skydiver, I saw that you like the LCR, and I intend to try one out as soon as I can.
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Old July 14, 2009, 09:36 AM   #18
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Oldmarksman: Ruger LCR

Yes, I really like it. The Ruger LCR is quite a different looking pistol from what we are used to, but it grows on you. I love the lightweight and concealbility of this little 5 round SD package. Pretty accurate too, even with +P ammo. Good luck.
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Old July 14, 2009, 10:43 AM   #19
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mellow_c ~

It is possible to jam any semi-auto by riding the slide. Some are more prone to it than others, but none of them are completely immune to being used improperly.

simon ~

I'm glad Antipitas saw your comment before I did. He addressed it well.

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Old July 14, 2009, 07:11 PM   #20
Dabull
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As others have pointed out, it did not feed properly because she rode the slide in order to be quiet and better listen for BGs. It was dark and she did not notice that it was not in full battery. She did not use her fingers to check because she was also holding the phone to 911 operator.

Given the situation, I don't think she will ever forget to slingshot a slide from now on (assuming we do not just keep them loaded).

Other than this mistake, my wife is a fairly experienced range shooter. She just lacks experience dealing with guns in real BG situations...kind of like me.

Agree that cops will not do anything and the BG got away. I will still do my part to fight crime, even if it is going on record to say I will prosecute.
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Old July 15, 2009, 12:53 AM   #21
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pax, Yeah, I figured that.

I just dont like 24/7's for a defensive firearm.
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Old July 15, 2009, 07:41 AM   #22
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Just a couple things.

As was suggested, use something to jam the sliding glass door. We used a metal tube when I was a kid.

You pointed out you use the CFL's, that'll save you a bunch of money for lights that are always on. However, in motion lights I'd recommend using the regular bulbs designed for them. We've tried several different types and brands of CFLs on our motion lights, and for some reason they burn out fast. Thinking its because it takes them a few moments to heat up.

One other thing you may wish to consider is a very bright flashlight. Its a trick I picked up from one of the local LEOs, but makes sense. If they're in complete dark, and looking at you, hitting them with a very bright light [think surefire, melt its nylon case if left on, bright] will cause some temporary blindness that buys you a few precious moments.
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Old July 17, 2009, 09:54 PM   #23
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jag you are completely right,blind the butthead and gain up to five seconds and it should be over if needed,hopefully not
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Old July 18, 2009, 04:38 AM   #24
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My wife told me that she did not want to deal with anything that could malfunction or anything that she had to disengage safeties or cock or rack or any of that other jazz.

So she has my .38 snub. This is not my opinion or choice, this is just the law she layed down to me. Personally I am about to let her keep the .38 and drop my semi for a .357 wheel gun my self for HD.

Pax
don't worry I will not tell my lady to step aside and let the man handle the job. Her trigger finger is itchier than mine, I might take friendly fire if I do not get out of her way.
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Old July 18, 2009, 06:21 AM   #25
Brit
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Join Date: January 29, 2005
Location: Orlando FL
Posts: 867
Dabull

Noises in the night? It would need to be Harley in the kitchen to wake my Wife! A dropped teaspoon wakes me, two of the energy saver bulbs illuminate the front of the house, switch on at night, off in the morning.

Glock19 and a Surefire flash light on the bedside table, chambered (of course!) the G19 that is.

You did good, the best result? is the awareness you now have.
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