Don't talk to strangers

Mrs Ahab related a story to me from a friend of hers at her office that serves as a pretty solid object lesson in home security. Said friend and husband have recently purchased a new home, and one afternoon while relaxing in their house were startled by the doorbell. Friend’s husband answered the door, and was greeted by a man claiming to be selling Febreeze door to door. Quite rightfully, this made his his “WTF” alarm go off, which increased when the “salesman” kept trying to peer around him and see what was in the house. On top of that, the “salesman” had two accomplices friends down on the sidewalk as well.

The husband refused any samples or to let the sales guy in, and upon their departure, immediately called the police. Being good civic minded folk, they also went and spoke with their neighbors to let them know what had happened. I think that my wife’s friend and her husband handled the situation admirably, especially in the aftermath.

As far as self defense goes, the key thing in this situation is that they were both aware of what was going on. The suspicious actions, the “friends” in the street were all triggers that our friends observed and acted appropriately as a result.

There are some pretty good takeaways from this as well:

1) Don’t talk to strangers. Even in your home, you’re under no obligation to talk to people that you don’t want to talk to.
2) Construct barriers. A lot of houses have screen doors on the front door; which are not really a barrier. On the flip side, many homes including my mine have a thick glass storm door, which can be kept locked and will serve as an impediment to anyone trying to gain access to your home. A screen door won’t do that.
3) Be aware! My wife’s friend and her husband did a great job on this. If someone’s at your door, look around. See if there’s anything they don’t want you to see.
4) Don’t answer the door at weird hours. Seriously, doorbell rings after 8pm, if I’m not expecting anyone, I don’t even open the interior door. If the doorbell rings again, I’ll tell them to go away, and say I’m calling the cops.
5) Get good sight lines. Do you have a peephole in your door? Get one. Get lights on your porch. Hell, get a CCTV camera if you want to go big.

There’s no substitute for being aware – from awareness springs readiness, and from readiness comes a proper defensive posture.


  1. I’ve always wanted to try (through the door), “Do you know me?”.

    “No, but …”

    “Then you have no business here.”

    *It’s quiet here. Haven’t had a chance to try it yet.

  2. Going along with #2 & #5, remember even with a storm door in place, to break the habit (if you have it) of opening the inner door all the way. While such socially-inviting body language is nice if you’re trying to win the Nice Guy of the Year Award (estimated street value: Jack shit.), you’re also providing an nearly uninterrupted view into the house behind you – perfect for a dubious visitor casing a future break-in.

    A little stratatactical¬© door-handling goes a long way. Stand close to the jam and if your door opens from the left, don’t open it past your right shoulder. Form a right-angle triangle between your storm door (the hypotenuse), your inner door, and yourself to minimize the visitor’s line-of-sight into your house. Makes it harder for them when your heavy door is taking up 70%+ of their FOV, and your carcass is doing its best to fill the remainder.

    If the visitor is as situationally aware as you are, they might also notice that this position lets you completely conceal your right hand behind said door… along with anything that it might be holding at the ready.

  3. I had a guy try to sell me a “security system.”

    I said no thanks, got one.

    “Uh, what kind and what features.”

    “Hmmm, I’d think a security professional such as yourself would know the last thing you should do is tell a stranger all the high-tech, advanced features of your top of the line security system.”


    (door shuts, locks)

  4. Not opening the door at all can be a good idea. One which should be ingrained in any children who might get to the door before the parent. Also, if you have an alarm system, a panic button can be placed alongside the door frame. No push-in artist wants to attract the rest of the neighborhood with a blaring siren. And keeping the shrubbery under control is not only a good practice against burglars, but limits the availability of any place for an accomplice to hide. But above all, remember you are under NO obligation to be courteous or polite to any stranger who comes knocking. You remain in charge of what goes on despite how the persons looks or what they say.

  5. Having 200 pounds of mistrustful, cranky, aggressive, protective Nazi Shepherds works wonders. My wife is convinced they stopped an attack by just being within teethshot of the hinkey vato.

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