Worst Case Scenario: Taking Back Your Home From Intruders, Part 2

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Home intruders and keeping your home base safe.In Part 1 of “Taking Back Your Home From Intruders” I introduced the possibility that your home or other property could be taken over by other people in a scenario such as this one:

A catastrophic disaster has occurred, one that destroyed hundreds or thousands of homes and businesses, and destroyed a community’s way of life. After a long journey home you notice an unfamiliar car parked in your driveway. You know your wife and kids aren’t home yet.

One or more intruders have taken over your home in your absence. Due to the disaster your cell phone can’t make a successful call, so you can’t call 9-1-1 for help. Your family’s survival is dependent on the preps stored in your home and the shelter it provides.

I’m a Certified Emergency Manager and have given a lot of thought to these types of scenarios. While your first instinct might be to drive up immediately and confront the intruders, I would recommend driving on by like nothing happened. If you were targeted in advance, chances are the intruders know what you drive, and could ambush you as you approach the house. Instead, go around the block to formulate your plan. If you can, summon law enforcement help. Do not try to resolve the situation yourself. Be a good witness and let the professionals do their thing, if there are any professionals to provide help.

Gather Intelligence

If you are on your own and law enforcement help isn’t an option, realize that the intruders are there to either grab your supplies and go or to squat in your home and comfortably live off your supplies. Time is of the essence. The longer you wait before acting, the more likely they will be able to escape with your lifeline or fortify your house for their protection. If your neighbors saw the intruder(s), get as much information from them as you can about them.

Decision Time

Now you have a choice to make: how badly do you want them to leave? This is an important personal and moral decision. If you forcefully try to take your home and preps back, you may have to hurt or kill one or more of them. If you don’t have the moral clarity to be able to do that, walk away. Don’t unnecessarily put yourself in jeopardy if you can’t pull the trigger to defend yourself.

You’ll also have to take into consideration that you or one or more of your loved ones will be injured or, perhaps, killed. This may be a quick operation in which the intruders put up a fuss and then move on, or it could become quite deadly.

Be Smart, Be Careful

For liability’s sake, I’m going to describe what I would do, based on my own experience and training. I’m not recommending anyone else do anything described here. I’m presenting this only as a thought exercise, a “what if?” scenario.

A conventional SWAT-style assault on your home is one option, but the squatters have the advantage. You are not likely to prevail if they have guns and are willing to use them. The best solution is to make the bad guys want to come out. SWAT teams use tear gas or pepper spray to temporarily create an atmosphere in which the bad guys are unable to breathe or see. I’m going to use a similar technique using items that can be improvised in a disaster. I’m also going to use other principles used by professional SWAT teams:

• Distraction
• Disorientation
• Overwhelm the senses

Remember, this game plan is just a thought exercise for a what-if? scenario. In no way am I recommending you take these actions, but instead, use these ideas as a launching pad for your own answers to, “What if invaders took over my home following a worst case scenario event?”

Assembling the Team and Supplies

The plan that I have come up with can be executed with as few as 3 (highly-capable) people, but of course the more people I can assemble to help, the better. Along with available family, friends, and any other volunteers, I will also need:

• Rope, wire or garden hose to entangle the feet of escaping bad guys
• For self-protection, as many firearms as possible, bats, axes, and other improvised weapons
• Rope, wire or other materials to secure the wrists of detained bad guys
• Motor oil or other oily material and rags
• Fire extinguishers and buckets of sand or dirt
• Flashlights
• Cigarette lighters
• Candles or other wick material

The Plan to Remove Home Intruders

The key to the plan is to create a large volume of smoke inside the house without burning it down. I want to create a temporarily unlivable environment that forces the bad guys out. I’m going to use a smoke pot, which is a metal can stuffed with cotton rags soaked in some type of oil, with a candle inserted for ease of lighting. Oily materials, particularly petroleum products create huge volumes of smoke but a relatively small amount of fire.

(Knowing how to make a smoke pot is helpful as a survival strategy if you are ever lost and need to signal for help.)


My plan is to insert a smoke pot into first floor bathrooms and the kitchen through their windows. These are rooms that usually have a less-combustible floor than carpet-covered areas, and bathrooms often have the extra benefit of having a tub or shower pan directly below the window opening. The smoke pots can burn with less chance of fire spreading while they churn out their smoke in the dark, with smoke detectors screaming. With heavy smoke in multiple areas of the house, the bad guys are forced to escape.

For out home intruders with a smoke pot. It produces a lot of smoke with relatatively less fire.
A smoke pot improvised with an almond can, cotton t-shirt, and motor oil.

Blinded and choking in the smoke, the escaping bad guys will easily become entangled in obstacles placed at exit doors, reducing their ability to fight back. The home intruders are disarmed and detained.

Why detain them and, hopefully, turn them over to law enforcement? It will be one, or more, fewer bad guys on the streets, thus, possibly, saving others from harm and eliminates those who targeted you and your home from coming back any time soon.

Plan Execution

We start between 3-5 AM, when the human mind is least alert.

• A Team Member (TM) takes a final look inside to try to see persons inside.
• Looped garden hoses, rope, or wire are placed at the front and back doors.
• A TM shuts off power to the house (breaker/fuse box or generator).
• TM’s break bedroom and living room windows from a distance with big rocks, then blind anyone inside with flashlights from behind cover.
• Bathrooms and kitchen: TM’s break the window, light the smoke pot, and toss it in.
• All TM’s make noise to seem like a larger force. Barking dogs are even better.
• TM’s at the front and back door capture/disarm bad guys coming out.
• TM’s put out fires with extinguishers or buckets of sand.
• Once the fires are out, TM’s ventilate smoke from the house.
• Deliver any prisoners to law enforcement and help anyone needing medical assistance.

Assume that not everything will go according to plan — it never does! However, thinking through a plan like this, step by step, and then considering how the plan might go awry, for good or bad, will lead you to consider other options. You’ll end up with a Plan B, a Plan C, and so on.

A Last Thought

This was an interesting mental exercise, but the issues are real. Too often, the strong take from the weak. If you are into preparedness, you are already strong in many ways. Keep your preparations safe. Plan, practice, and improve!

Have you given any thought as to what you would do if your home or other property were taken over by others in the aftermath of a worst case scenario? Would you walk away and try to survive elsewhere? What would be your back-up plan?

By the way, this very scenario happens in the excellent book, Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. The Survival Mom reviewed the book in this video:

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Jim Acosta

Jim has spent time as a volunteer firefighter, Emergency Medical Technician, and wildland fire hand crew member. He is currently a Certified Emergency Manager. In 2011, Jim authored “I Can Overcome That: The Practical Guide to Surviving the Next Big California Earthquake.”

7 thoughts on “Worst Case Scenario: Taking Back Your Home From Intruders, Part 2”

  1. Hi Lisa,

    This is something that I’ve never really considered before. For some reason, I’ve always just assumed that if things were to get to the point that it wasn’t safe at our home that we would bug out. Now that I’ve read this article, it really has the wheels turning in my head. I’ll have to spend some time thinking about what our family might be able to do to reclaim our home and supplies if marauders were to ever force us to leave.

    By the way, I just love reading your website. I get so many good ideas from it!!! I feel like a bit of a blog stalker because I pop in everyday to see what’s new and interesting here. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Patty! It’s impossible to say how possible a scenario like this would be for any specific home, but for sure, there’s a problem with squatters right now moving into foreclosed homes. Glad you like my blog!

  2. It’s always good to have a plan just in case. I like your idea of using smoke, light and noise to get the intruders out. I’m going to see if I van devise a plan along similar lines. Thanks for the inspiration!

    I would like to point out a possible flaw in your plan though: have you ever tried braking a window, especially from a distance using rocks? Unless you have old single layer windows instead of more modern multi-layered, isolating windows (pretty much standard on all houses build in the last 2 decades over here in the Netherlands), you’ll probably only crack the windows and wake up the intruders… Something to consider.

    1. I wondered about that. Most houses have double layer windows, plus blinds, curtains or some other covering. If you could break the window, you would have to get the smoke pot past that or risk setting the curtains or blinds on fire.

  3. Larry Niven has always been my favorite author. I read Lucifer’s Hammer long ago, together with the Mote in God’s Eye. they came out at the same time almost.

    It’s wonderful to hear your take on Lucifer’s Hammer this long after I read it. Thanks for posting it. I’ve had the drive to keep a full pantry most of my life.. I’m now 70. Now, since losing my home and gardening space twice, I feel panic not having my own garden. My drive is to get another one.

    Your posts are wonderful and so right-on. Keep up the good work. Well Done.

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