View Full Version : Clearing a property

February 2, 2012, 02:34 PM
I am a manager for a company that manages rental properties. We are in a very remote area and we have a tendency to have a lot of false burglar alarms. I also walk through properties for status checks etc.

More than once I have walked into a property and bumped into someone who wasn't supposed to be there. Normally it is someone who has overstayed a rental usually sleeping.

I always carry however am not always inclined to draw and clear the property with a piece in my hand. My fear is that I spook someone needlessly. I figure I can draw and protect myself.

When I go to a burglar alarm at a supposedly unoccupied property I typically have my hand on the gun and a flashlight. If I feel the need I do draw and clear.

In winter I draw and slip the firearm into my jacket pocket. I then walk through the property with the piece in the pocket and my hand on it. If I bump into someone it looks like I am just walking around with my hand in my pocket.


Thanks, Vermonter

February 2, 2012, 03:48 PM
Talk to the local PD/SO/State Police, and see if you can get some training in how to clear your property safely. Cops have died because they thought they could always outdraw the bad guy.
Obviously, you cannot 'tactically' clear every time you enter a cabin, or your guest count will go down. But better awareness could save you life.
If you have guests who overstay, wouldn't you know that in advance, as their keys had not been returned?

February 2, 2012, 04:18 PM
I have worked on training on clearing the property. The issue is I don't want to go in looking like swat when there is no need. I will give you an example.

I pull into the house for a post departure status. No vehicles in driveway . The home has a keyless door code that expires at checkout time. (11:00) I enter at roughly 13:00 in order to make sure all doors and windows are shut, lights out, heat at 55, and so on.

I enter the property and start doing a status from the bottom up. In the upstairs bedroom I find a sleping individual in the bed. He is not responding verbally and is breathing heavily.

Turns out that he was just a drunken partier who had been left in the house while his friends went skiing or whatever.

If I had been busting in there chuck norris style I would have startled needlessly an otherwise polite young man who had a few too many.

We have amazing local poliece but they are more part time and usually run night shifts as those are busier. If I dial 911 and they are not on duty a state trooper will be here in about 15 mins. Therefore this kind of thing is mostly up to me to deal with.

We tend to go in pairs and no women are ever the first people to enter a property.

Thanks, Vermonter

February 2, 2012, 05:52 PM
Now, I have a much better picture of what your concerns are.

I would start with (if legal) adding some OC spray, in case the drunk become violent. I also would get in a fair amount of practice with drawing either sidearm or pepper spray. Also, a bright flashlight, perhaps with a strobe function, to disorient anyone who does not like being awakened. Carry the light even during daylight, of course, in case some lightbulbs have been removed.

I presume you enter and call out, even in an apparently empty house, to identify yourselves. Perhaps even a loud whistle to awaken your leftover partiers?
I would also do a quick scan of each room first, before checking windows, etc. You don't want to be closing a window when someone comes up behind you, thinking YOU are an intruder.

February 2, 2012, 06:15 PM
I've done thousands of building searches. If you must do it, learn to shoot only using one hand. Both hands but never more then one at a time.

If you have done any building searches you know you seldom have both hands free. You'll have a flash light, radio, door knob, etc etc.

Even holding onto one bandit while you have the drop on a second. Learn to shoot one handed.

On the same lines stay away from long guns, shotguns and rifles, they will do nothing but get in the way. If you can't hit with a pistol from inside a building, practice until you can. I'd hate to say how many times I've seen other cops looking around, stupidly, trying to figure out what to do with the shotgun will trying to control a handcuffed bandit.

Two hand shooting is great for competition or shooting little bitty groups, but its not practical. You always have something in or doing something with the other hand.

If you have reason to believe someone is unlawfully in the building, you have reason to have your gun out and ready (check your state laws on this one). I never did a building search without a revolver in my hand.

BUT BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET, you don't want to shoot an unarmed drunk sleeping it off. (Couldnt count the times I ALMOST did).

Get a Mechanic' inspection mirror, its great for peeking around corners without exposing your self. Also never peek around corners while standing, get down low, bandits don't look down for danger.

If you don't carry your gun while doing searches, practice drawing and firing one round. LOts and Lots of practice drawing.

(Bill Jordon's No Second Place Winner covers this).

Don't know your situation but if possible never search by your self, (this was seldom the case with me, we just didn't have the cops all the time).

If you get a partner, practice, work together, and NEVER loose sight of each other while searching.

Flash lights: Stay away from the super duper bright suckers. They light up everything including you. Might as well be carrying a colman lantern.

The light reflects off everyting. Use normal cheap gas station two cell flashlings with D batteries.

Don't hold the light in the gun hand like you see on TV or a lot of training films. Hold the light away from your body, the farther the better.
Its' bee a while, this is just off the top of my head. I could probabley come up with more ideas if I think on it a bit.

February 2, 2012, 06:19 PM
OK my other post was on a serious note, now I'll relay a war story on what not to do.

I use to have a NG buddy who grew up on a ranch in Arizona. He was big into doing rope and gun tricks. He got me to "twirling a revolver" and I got pretty good, but stopped all together.

I was doing a building search with another officer, a rather large wharehouse. We didn't find anything but when we finished, the comes up to me and tells me "if you do a building search with me again while twirling your revolver, I'm gonna take it away from you and beat you to death with it"

Haven twirled a revolver since. Didn't even know I was doing it.

February 2, 2012, 07:29 PM
Thanks for the posts.
Kraig Wow I promis I will never do a search while revolver twirling. Thanks for the rest I will do more one handed shooting.

Sleuth Spray is a good idea. I do always carry a small LED with me.

Any thoughts on draw or no draw?

Ps if i see something obviously wrong im waiting on the state cops. Problem is with no car and no obvious forced entry I have no reason to dial 911

February 2, 2012, 07:52 PM
Find a reputable gun defense school in your area and take their course on how to clear a house/building etc.
Reading about it is not the same as walking through it a couple of times.

February 2, 2012, 08:44 PM
I agree with the one-handed shooting, but mostly to add that while a flash light is great, I prefer a stick. Bear with me here.

In close confines I find that with a firearm you want as much distance as you can get. Having something that you can keep between you and your opponent for enough time to react can help you a lot. Think "Lion Tamer".

The second is knowing your escape routes. But instead of just knowing them, practice with a buddy on shoving someone against a wall or other surface to gain time/distance. If they are up against a wall, they aren't in your escape route.

Assuming you have the physical ability to do so, of course. And if you aren't required to use lethal force or feel it's better to back out.

February 2, 2012, 08:50 PM
I suppose I could swap out the small hand held light for the six cell I keep in the truck. My thought is that by ccwing and having a small light I look very unassuming walking in but am still preppared.

February 2, 2012, 09:03 PM
Big lights get in the way, too heavy and akward,

I did this for 20 years, found small two cell standard lights worked best.

Again, stay away from sooper bright lights, they light up the place like a trip flair.

February 2, 2012, 09:52 PM
I will be sticking to the small LED. It has controlable brightness so that is a plus. I will also think of MACE however that all gets to be a lot to carry. I figure if an unarmed or lesser armed intruder is discovered I will draw, issue a warning, detain them and get help.
If someone gets away with a TV or the like I could care less I just want to go home safe.

February 2, 2012, 09:58 PM
Never saw a bandit in the open, they are normally hiding in a closet, behind or under funiture, behind doors, in corners, 'n stuff.

Mace? In those situations, everyone gets maced.

Later in my career we started getting pepper spray, never used in my self but go sprayed more then once from other officers using it.

Not for me.

February 2, 2012, 09:59 PM
All my searches have been with at least a five man team. Not really relevant here. I do wonder though why you would go it alone?

February 2, 2012, 10:06 PM
I do wonder though why you would go it alone?

More buildings & alarms then cops, this was before the days of SWAT and K-9s (dogs are my favorite).

Every now and then we had help. Any more then two is too many, If I had 5 or 6 I'd take one guy with me and leave the others to secure the premeter.

It was an era of "one riot one trooper".

February 2, 2012, 10:08 PM
99% of the time I am status checking a property. When i show up to burglar alarm I am usually dealing with a false alarm.

I am not going in expecting trouble. Nor am I looking for a fight. I simply want to be prepared for those moments when checking a home or condo turns into a nasty moment.

If i pull in and find a running van and the front door smashed I will get a plate#, observe from distance, and call 911 no matter how long waiting for them takes.

Kraig I am inclined to go with you and keep it simple. PS your expert knowledge is appreciated.

February 2, 2012, 10:39 PM
It was an era of "one riot one trooper".

Ive been to "riots" where we outnumbered the rioters. :)

I am not going in expecting trouble. Nor am I looking for a fight.

One wonders what the point of the alarm is if you are not expecting trouble?


February 3, 2012, 10:03 AM
Had a stray german shepard take to the family and we to her.

She was about three years old, and she marked the other side of the street
as her property. anything inside was fair-game.

Also, not trying to be a wet towel but have you spoken with attorney about liability??? Training might negate/minimize but think you need to consider this???

February 3, 2012, 10:19 AM
My 2 cents:

Strong on the get training part.
Of all the ways to move around a place, most favor the other guy.
In depth training is essential.

Treat each and every place inspected as a serious search, for the time when someone is really there.

We were similarly adopted by a stray Shepard.
He marked his territory the same.
But each and every person who came within it was considered a new playmate.
Not much tactical help, there.
Great dog, though.

February 3, 2012, 10:51 AM
Since my 27 years were spent in plain clothes, I can understand your concerns. The bottom line is the old saying, slightly changed:
Be pleasent, be kind, and have a plan to escape from everyone you meet!

You want to present a everyday appearance, yet be prepared for meeting the unknown. I would:
Carry a cell Phone
Learn to use and carry a gun.
Carry a small can of OC spray, or the civilian version TASER, which is set up so you employ it, drop the TASER, and run. ( It gives a longer ride than the police version, so you have time to exit the area.))
Carry your light; small, fits in a pocket, appears to be for checking in dark corners for belongings left behind.
Enter every location as if bad guys have moved in after the renters left.

Your prime objective is not to capture anyone: it is to escape and then call the police.

February 3, 2012, 12:03 PM
Again thanks for all the ideas, I will respond to the ones presented in best order I can.

Dog- I suppose I could take my golden with me. She is protective of us and our home however I am unsure of how she would act in what is essentially someone elses home.

Taser- I would really like to avoide having to carry too much more than I already do.

Mace- Same as above

Lawyer- We of course have one for the business. If I am in a property that I have a managment contract on then I am good to go regarding forcing someone to leave etc. Of course deadly action opens up a ton of other legal situations for a different thread entirley.

Training- I have many family members who are LEOs one of whom is SWAT. Not here to brag about that....in any event I have done some informal training with him. That said I know I need more. Any Ideas on where to get such training in the Green Mountain State.

I will go over my EDC so you all know what I am already carrying...
At least one gun on my person
Small Light
Pocket Knife

Those are all on my person.......

The truck is equipped with more and stays locked keys on me.


Frank Ettin
February 3, 2012, 02:09 PM
...If I am in a property that I have a managment contract on then I am good to go regarding forcing someone to leave etc...However, the amount of force you may use can be an issue. In general, lethal force, or the threat of lethal force, may not be used in response to a simple trespasser. I don't know what the law is in Vermont, but you should be sure that you do.

February 3, 2012, 02:33 PM
Our leases are basically short term vacation rental leases. Example John may be here from 5pm Friday night until 11 am Sunday morning. If he is at the property past that time or returns for any reason he is trespassing and I have the right to remove him from the property.

This exactly why I don't want to always draw and clear tactically because I could bump into someone who's friends are running late and he is simply waiting for his ride. If the situation were to escalate I figure it would go something like this....

Sir you have to leave.........No I am not leaving.........Sir if you are unwilling to leave I will have to charge your card per our rental agreement and alert the authorities.........

If the person didn't want me alerting anyone and advanced on me then and only then would the gun come into play.

I figure the standard for lethal force here would be the same as any other. I would need to legitimately fear for my life in order to use it and have no other escape route. Of course if I enter and find someone inside the escape route is behind me so that is option # 1

February 3, 2012, 06:39 PM
If it were me, . . . I would own one of those little hand held cattle prod like doo-dads that shock like lightning, . . . but are non lethal. It would be in my left hand as I went into the room/building/hallway/garage, . . . where ever.

Some look almost like a cell phone, and would not be "suspect" until it got punched and the volts started flowing.

I would use it in an attempt to de-escalate any physical attack, . . . and should it not be effective, . . . the right hand is free to draw, . . . and we will then enter "Altercation, Phase II".

May God bless,

February 3, 2012, 07:36 PM
The proper tactical flashlight should have an output of at least 60 lumens, a hundred lumens would be better. Its true they light up a room, but it takes at least 60 lumens to blind someone. Also fully lighting and properly identifying your target are of paramount importance.

Many modern LED flashlights are varible, the one I'm holding right now has a low setting of 5 lumens, medium 30 lumens, high 81 lumens, Turbo 180 lumens. It also has strobe and SOS settings. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of a strobe, but I can tell you that 100 plus lumens in the eyes is painful, blinding and disorienting.

Someone who's eyes are adjusted to the dark will be temporarily blinded by a 100+ lumen light. In informal testing, several friends and myself have found it very difficult to advance into a 100+ lumen light. Once the light hits your unprepared, darkness adjusted eyes, seeing who is holding the flashlight and exactly where they are is next to impossible.

In your particular situation, keeping your pistol in your pocket, or holstered seems prudent and reasonable to me. Fully lighting and identifying individuals, before pointing a handgun at them is definitely the best course of action.

February 4, 2012, 08:37 AM
I have a surefire 6PX Pro. It has a 15/200 lumen output. The first push gives 15 lumens and the second gives 200. The switch is momentary or continuous depending on how hard you push.

15 Lumens is ample for looking into closets etc and 200 will stop anyone in their tracks. 1 button operation keeps it simple.

You can also get the 6PX Defender which has a nice sharp strike bezel.

The people you will most likely run across are clients overstaying their checkout time.
I don't think walking in with some type of taser or striking device would be appropriate especially in a state like Vermont that doesn't even require a permit to carry a handgun.
The people you're walking in on may also be armed.

A flashlight seems to be the most apropriate in this situation.

February 4, 2012, 10:23 PM
I preform walk throughs of vacant properties on a daily basis for my job. Typically these properties are foreclosures that the owner has abandoned the home.

My wife and I carry guns with us in every walk through. You never know who may be in there just waiting to jump you. Several times I have found people inside these secured properties.

For my properties no one is supposed to be in them, so if I sense there is a threat, I will assume the ready position with my hand on my gun.

I think I have it better though as my properties are supposed to be vacant and I hardly ever find vagrants.

February 4, 2012, 10:46 PM
I love my pooch and play clearing the house in my own home (So what? He can't play checkers and it's fun and he loves it so there) but taking your dog could pose a huge liability issue should it actually bite someone.

February 5, 2012, 05:24 AM
You can also get the 6PX Defender which has a nice sharp strike bezel.

I just want to point out that there is a school of thought on this that suggests it's a bad idea.

1. It's "weaponized" and could be considered a weapon in a court battle.

2. Strike bezels do little to increase effectiveness, during an adrenaline surge are they really going to feel any more than just a dull percussion?

3. Strike bezels increase the likelihood of lacerations. Lacerations mean blood, blood that could be on you. While I'm a big proponent of knives, a big flaw in this is an increase in contact with blood born diseases.

February 5, 2012, 08:25 AM
Conduct your inspections during business hours in daylight. There is no reason to inspect a property in the dark with a flashlight. Lets say the burglar alarm went off in the middle of the night. Why not just let it go off and investigate in the morning? If the property is vacant and properly insured, will you lose anything?

Discuss the situation with the local police. Tell them that you have found people on your property who are not supposed to be there on occasion. Ask if they can help you out when the alarms go off.

There might be different opinions here about this, but I think you should let your presence be known before going inside. Honk the horn in the driveway, knock on the door and ring the bell, yell inside asking if anyone is there. I think most people would try to run out the door before you get inside.

February 6, 2012, 01:55 PM
Well Captian Obvious........
Lol your name is too easy there. I do most of my walkthroughs during daylight however interior rooms tend not to have windows therefore they require a flashlight.

Burglar alarm without response by a keyholder can lead to an insurance loss. IE our properties are insured by a special type of rental property insurance. This insurance requires response to emmergencies within a time frame. We also guarentee 10 min response time to any and all issues.

This is to say that I need to respond and investigate not that I need to go Chuck Norris and start breaking arms and legs. That is up to discretion as stated earlier in the thread if I show up to a swinging door and a moving van at midnight I am simply going to observe from a distance and alert the police.

Thanks, Vermonter

February 6, 2012, 02:41 PM
What is the use of burglar alarms if you arn't going to respond?

Isn't the OP required to provide security? What are they paying him for?

Don't most of these types of burglaries occur at night?

Am I missing someone here?

If I'm working nights (which I did most of my career), and dispatch gives me an alarm call, and I told her wait until daylight and give it to the day shift, I wouldn't have had a job when the day shift hit the street.

If its your job, either as LE or Secruity to protect property, then its your job, DO IT.

There is an old Western Saying, "RIDE FOR THE BRAND" meaning loyalty to your employer and doing the job he's paying you to do to the best of your ability. That doesn't mean pawn it off on the day shift.

Train to do building searches. In vacent appartment buildings you're going to find tresspassers and bandits. A little of "shoot-no shoot" targets will be needed in your training.

Vacent appartments are great places to find druggie flop houses and these people can be dangerous, be prepaired.

But FFS, if you're hired to do a job, DO IT. Get as much training as you possibly can, but you have to do the job you're hired to do. Its nice if you have a partner, but often that isn't the case.

I can't believe some of the post on this topic.

February 6, 2012, 02:48 PM
Honk the horn in the driveway, knock on the door and ring the bell, yell inside asking if anyone is there. I think most people would try to run out the door before you get inside.

Yeah, like that will work; That tactic also allows the bandit to set up an ambush. I lost a good LE Comrade that way.


February 6, 2012, 02:59 PM
You said what I really wanted to there. I'm not a big pawn off guy never have been. Matter of fact I am a principle but of course the owner is my ultimant boss here. I do this because we tell folks we look out for their properties in their stead and they compensate us to do so.

We also have some elderly property owners who have the tendancy to not inform us of their occupancy in a timely manner. God forbid if one of them was at a property and an alarm went off. If I didn't show up to that my spine should be removed.

We respond to everything and we do it fast that's why we are here. We are not security we are property managers however this is a remote area.

This thread is about what to do when presented with the tactical information I have presented not about weather I should be there in the first place. I have already made that decision it is a personal decision and I am ok with the one I have already made.

Thanks, to all for the advise

Kraig especially yours as I value your expirence

Kindest Regards to all, Vermonter

February 6, 2012, 03:31 PM
What is the use of burglar alarms if you aren't going to respond?

My thoughts, exactly.

February 6, 2012, 03:42 PM
Thieves have been stealing appliances from vacant homes for a long time. Now, they even steal the copper plumbing, water heaters, rugs, you name it.

February 6, 2012, 04:16 PM
"We tend to go in pairs and no women are ever the first people to enter a property." Why not let a woman go in first?

February 6, 2012, 04:18 PM
Kraig's given you some great advice, as usual. But you sound to me like you've pretty much got a handle on your procedures. I clear my own property every time I come home from anywhere if I've been away for more than a few hours. But also like you, this is only if everything appears normal-if anything is obviously amiss, the police will get called and I'll watch from a distance. My flashlight is a RayOVac Sportsman Extreme, C-type, so it's fairly small, 180 Lumens high and I believe 75 on low. Cheap, and quite well constructed.

February 6, 2012, 04:22 PM
The most common items here are every day household items with very little to no resale value. Commonly missing items include
-Vaccume Cleaners
-Toaster Ovens
-Cleaning Chemicles

Local PD seems to think that it is gang related believe it or not. They set up temporary appartments down in the "City" and do their dirty deeds.

Unoccupied properties on dirt roads in a small town in Vermont seem like soft targets and our goal is to make them as hard as possible. Thus the alarms, flood lights, deadoolt locks, and the fact that we respond when the whistle blows.

Regards, Vermonter

February 6, 2012, 09:32 PM
When i say women don't go in first I mean that our female cleaners or reservationist do not go to a property alone and never before a select few of us have done so first.

February 6, 2012, 11:24 PM
I don't have the experience or expertise of Kraigwy, but it seems to me that a small, RELIABLE, powerful flashlight is important for your work; i.e., a flashlight using CR123 batteries so it is a good fit in your hand. Although a bright flashlight, e.g., 60 to 200 lumens, does "light up" the whole room, it is also blinding to a person facing it. Since any flashlight will disclose your position to another person in the same room (or possibly in an adjacent room), it seems to me that a small (easy to carry) powerful flashlight is appropriate for your job.

February 7, 2012, 01:46 PM
I am all set with the EDC items I have listed above. I would be highly interested in training options that do not require a cross country flight and a few thousand dollars.

Does anyone know of good traiing available in northern NY VT or NH?

Thanks, Vermonter