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In-Home Intruders

Whether your home sits solo behind a white picket fence or among a multitude in a high-rise, there is always the possibility of a break-in. How one prepares to deal with a home intruder, however, varies. While some find comfort in owning a gun, others rely on the security provided by cameras or alarm systems.

Which form of defense has Americans feeling the safest in their homes? We asked 1,000 Americans about the security systems they had in place and how at-risk they felt. Continue reading to find out how hypothetical break-ins affect the American approach to safety.

Uninvited Guests

The amount of home invasions may have decreased by 7.8 percent in 2015 from the year prior, but the average American still thought there was a 45 percent chance of an intruder situation at home.

We analyzed answers by demographic, comparing genders, political parties, and parental status. While the level of anticipation didn’t differ greatly between political affiliation and parenthood status, there was a more significant difference when it came to gender. Male respondents anticipated a 42 percent chance of having an intruder in their homes (the lowest across all demographics), while women anticipated intruders to be highly likely: They estimated a 50-50 chance of their homes being invaded.

Women feeling more at risk to a home invasion falls in line with previous research, though. Over the years, numerous studies have been done in an attempt to understand the gap in fear of crime between men and women. One study found that women’s fear of crime was significantly influenced by their fear of sexual assault. With women feeling less safe on the streets, that fear has seeped into their homes, causing them to anticipate a home invasion more than men.

The Expected Need for Defense

The level of anticipation one feels about an intruder may determine what kind of defense system he or she has in place. Those who thought a home invasion was least likely to occur protected themselves and their homes with a golf club, while those who ranked a home invasion likelihood a 2.5 (on a scale of 1 to 5) guarded their homes with a security camera. Homeowners with alarm systems fell in the middle of those wielding golf clubs and watching security cameras. They anticipated an intruder only slightly less than gun owners.

Preparing for the Worst

Being prepared for a home invasion could make the difference between losing a few valuable items and potentially losing a life. While only 7 percent of burglaries involve some form of violence, being prepared can increase the chances of the offenders being caught or diverting an intruder altogether.

Overall, 70 percent of Americans felt they should be better prepared for an intruder situation. Women felt the least prepared for an invasion situation, despite expecting it more than any other demographic. Democrats and non-parents thought an intruder was less likely to enter their homes but felt they should be better prepared more so than their relative counterparts.

Prepared to Protect

Defense choice also influenced how prepared one felt in the event of a home invasion. Seventy-six percent of those who relied on pepper spray as a source of protection felt they should be better prepared, while only 66 percent of gun owners felt they could increase their preparation.

Interestingly, the majority of people who felt they needed to be better prepared relied on the three defense methods that required proximity to be a useful form of protection. Those who were protected by security cameras, alarm systems, and guns – securities that don’t require close contact – felt slightly more confident in their security measures.

Could You Do It?

When imagining the presence of a home intruder, it’s worth asking yourself whether or not you feel that you feel emotionally and physically capable of murdering an intruder if necessary. Sixty-three percent of Republicans report feeling confident in their ability to kill when threatened with an invasion, compared to only 42 percent of Democrats. The difference in percentage between political parties may be related to their choice of defense system. Republicans are more likely to own a gun than Democrats, possibly causing an increase of confidence in their ability to kill.

Similar to political parties, men and women also feel significantly different about their ability to kill an intruder. Sixty percent of men feel capable of killing, while only 41 percent of women agree.

Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from this “could you do it?” question, however, was the effect that children seem to have on their parents hypothetical handling of an intruder. In fact, this question revealed a direct correlation between increasing amounts of children and an increasing capability for the parent to kill an intruder. With each additional child in the family, parents become 3.4 percent more likely to consider themselves capable of killing an intruder, on average.

Deadly Defense

The type of defense system one had in place also affected their confidence in their emotional and physical ability to kill. Gun owners felt the most confident, with 78 percent feeling mentally capable of killing an intruder, and 53 percent of those protected by pepper spray and security cameras felt the same. Although a baseball bat is more likely to kill an intruder than an alarm system, the people who happened to own these weapons considered themselves less able to wrap their heads the concept of murder, even in self-defense. Homeowners with alarms felt slightly more confident in their ability to kill, though they clearly wouldn’t be using the alarm itself as a weapon.

Protect Yourself

No matter the lengths we go to for in-home protection, we can never eliminate risk entirely.   Yes, the use of alarm systems and other protective methods may prevent break-ins, but having the right insurance plan is the only guaranteed method of recouping damages in the event of a break-in. Regardless of your personal approach to household safety, you should make sure you take the time to explore all of the insurance options available to you.


We surveyed 1,000 Americans about which defense systems they had in place and would use in the event of a home intruder. We also asked them questions regarding how safe they felt, how likely they thought a home intruder was, and how prepared they thought they were.

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