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“According to court records, Churchill County [Nevada] Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call and found a purse in the driveway,” reports. “Deputies conducted a search of the garage and found [Sally Jean] Whooley hiding underneath a blanket between a freezer and cabinet. Documents show Whooley broke in and was waiting for the victim to return home, although no motive was stated for the break-in.” Probably something to do with drugs, or access to cash for drugs. Also SOP: the planned method for gaining entry into the home. Catch the vic just before they get inside. Immediate access and potential concealment (just inside the door) for what follows. Not to coin a phrase, what’s your best defense?

Avoidance, of course. Any pilot will tell you: take-off and landing are the most dangerous phase of any flight. So heads-up! If you see someone lurking around your house when you’re driving up, keep on driving. Don’t be afraid to call the cops; they are your public servants.

Getting a visual on a potential perp depends on sight lines. Pulling your car into a garage full of crap is a bad idea, obviously. If you store a lot of junk in your garage, don’t pull in. Park outside of the garage in the relative open space of your driveway. Put the car away later, with eyes wide open and ears on full bat mode.

If that’s too much of a bother, get rid of hiding places. Of course, that’s not really an answer. Even if you pull into a sterile garage like the one above, you’re still vulnerable. You can’t see what may run into the garage as you’re getting out. Gun or no gun, you’re not going to get enough time/distance to do much more than hand-to-hand conflict.

So when you park in your garage, wait about five seconds with your doors locked and your window slightly lowered. Listen. A moment of silence, as the Quakers are wont to say. And then make positive egress. Don’t just kind of get out. Get out quickly and check out your environs. Without stuff in your hands.

Loading-up on packages before you exit the car eliminates a lot of options. If you’re going to be attacked, it’s better to attack first, with your hands free from clutter. Speed, surprise, violence of action. Oh, right. You can hold your keys in one hand to use as an impromptu edged weapon.

Getting out of your car with your weapon drawn is a sure way to earn a free gunloon T-shirt. Unless you have reason to believe you’re in danger. In which case, why aren’t you driving away? Generally speaking, forget about armed self-defense. You’ll be too close. Strike and run. That said . . .

If you’re headed to or away from your vehicle and see someone suspicious, do not get into the car. The chances of winning a footrace to your automobile with enough time to close and lock the door are minimal. Better to retreat to your house or put the car between you and the Bad Guy (BG) and draw your weapon.

You can circle around the car, keeping the car between you and the perp, easily enough. Unfortunately, multiple BGs put paid to that notion. In that case . . . RUN! Fight. Something. But you do not want to get caught struggling for your life in the tight confines of the driver’s seat. Imagine a knife.

Backtracking slightly, make sure there’s plenty of light around your garage. Not one of those instant-on motion sensor jobbies, either The BG can trigger it, stay still and return to darkness. And don’t forget that decorative hedges are perfect hiding places; they’re better off set slightly away from your structures.

Sorry to sound paranoid, but none of this advice is particularly onerous. Just incorporate good safety procedures (e.g., check the back seat for unwanted passengers) into your daily driving routine and they’ll become second nature. No harm, no foul. But if something does happen, you’ll be ready.

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  1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a garage that clean in real life. In mine I expect the giant spiders I am certain lurk in the darker corners behind all the junk would take care of any bad guy. The only intruder I have ever found was a deceased baby copperhead.

  2. Good article! This reminds me of an incident about two years ago in Summerville. A man coming home late from work one night, around 9 Pm, failed to notice a car following him. He parked in his driveway, only to have a rifle shoved in his face as two teenagers robbed him. Luckily, he survived. Not long after, I made a late night run to Walmart. I noticed a car behind me that seemed fairly close. This was about 1 AM. I changed lanes, the car changed lanes. I took an alternate street, so did the car. Finally, I decided to bait the car to a church parking lot-because I’m me and can’t back down from a fight. At the last second, the car with two white males, veered off into the night. I was already armed with a laser gripped .357, and no one followed me home. I figured they were looking for a victim to follow from Wal Mart the whole time.

  3. Back when I lived in Old East Dallas, a homeowner that lived on my street a block away was coming home after dark. He dropped his wife and mother-in-law off at the front door, then drove around to his garage around the corner. As he pulled in, some thug popped him in the head, shooting through his windshield, then set the garage on fire and escaped. To my knowledge, the murderer was never caught. Word from a cop friend was that the guy was a lawyer who dealt with international clients, and they believed it was a professional hit.

    The lesson for me was to always trust my “Spidey Sense” and stay on at the very least, condition Yellow. As a result, I was aware (enough) later to avoid two incidents in my own alley that could have easily turned out to be a fatal encounter with a bad guy.

    As Joe Bob Briggs (Drive-in Movie Theatre Critic of Grapevine, TX) says, “Without eternal vigilance, it could happen here.”

  4. I am a pessimist. You can minimize the chance of being surprised but you can’t eliminate it. Robert’s advice is sound but sometimes you are just going to have a bad day.

  5. Good advice. But don’t just be aware of potential threats near your property. Have your home properly secured. Many home alarms do not include the garage. Can your door be pried open from the side, or have you spent the $100 and installed a steel security door? The corner of a garage might be an excellent place to hide waiting for you (especially if you’re tired from the daily grind). Or do you have a new garage door like the one below. East enough to gain access.

    BTW – A zip tie properly installed prevents this. We’ve had a number of burglaries via garage in my neighborhood over the last few years. Fortunately, the burglars were long gone before anyone got home. My next door neighbor had his house emptied while he was at work. Apparently, the burglars kept backing vans in and out of his garage all day long, hiding themselves by closing the door. Nobody noticed.

  6. Here is a story from a friend a couple of years back on a forum I frequent. It was so scary that I saved it for just such a situation…..The guy has since moved to a different city.

    The other night, my wife and I were coming back from Texas Roadhouse with our two baby boys in the backseat of the car. We get into Dayton, and turn down our road when a car pulls behind us and turns on their brights, occassionally flashing them. Well, I try to remain calm as I turn into my driveway and pull into my garage. But what do you know? The car pulls into my driveway with their brights on, and another car does the same. I grab my CZ RAMI 2075 9mm and get out of the car, only to have a bright flashlight (and car headlights) shining in my face. The gun is a bit hidden, and as I am about to bring it up the man says as he walks INTO my garage:

    “Uh, sorry sir, we were looking for a blue honda, not a Mazda.”

    It was a county OFFICER walking into my garage uninvited without ever turning his blue lights on and identifying himself. I put the gun in the front seat of the car without him seeing it and he explains there was some “juvenile behavior” going on in the neighborhood and they were investigating, and sorry to bother me. Dumbfounded and slackjawed, I don’t know what to say as he drives away with his partner, AND the other policecar that never identified itself that was in my driveway.

    Anyway, should I make waves about this or just let it go? Were they in the right to not turn their blue lights on, to pull into my driveway uninvited, and to walk into my garage blinding me with a flashlight? What would you have done?

    • That’s one of those scary moments when your adrenaline is pumping so hard that you don’t know whether to piss or throw up, realizing the different ways it could have gone down. I think I’d have let the Shift Sgt. know what had happened and that he almost lost an officer by failing to announce his presence and intent. Thank God it wasn’t a bad guy, but thank God he didn’t pull the trigger.


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