Can you imagine coming home from work to find your door off the hinges and your firearms and other valuables missing? Or maybe a car window smashed and that pistol haphazardly stowed under your seat gone forever? The associated anger, loss, aggravation, and violation can take some time to work through. In the movies, we would hunt them down and deliver justice. In the real world, you’re probably not going to find out who did it, and if something ever does turn up it might be inside a meth lab years later; one of Mad Duo Chris’ coworkers recovered a Nazi-marked P-38 pistol, ditched during a robbery in 2011, originally stolen in Detroit in 1974. To make matters worse, oftentimes criminals will wait a week or two and then hit you again right when you start feeling better (and your insurance may have helped replace some of the higher dollar items).
A close friend of mine’s house was broken into while he was on base. The dirtbags took several guns that were outside the safe, plus a few other valuables. A handful of weeks later, they came back and took the entire 800 pounds of gun safe right out the front door.
Just as with STDs, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of penicillin. There are some very basic things you can do to layer up your onion peel of security–usually, you just have to make your house harder to break into than your neighbors. However, a properly determined and motivated thief can get to just about anything if they know you have something they want. This post isn’t necessarily about active physical security measures, but instead about what you can do to make the ‘after’ easier (which, by the way, will be made much easier if you’ve accomplished a good inventory and performed proper due diligence with your homeowners insurance).
Reassess Your Own Physical Security Measures
Yes, this seems like a given. But as mentioned plenty of people have been hit multiple times by the same losers.
Have a Logbook
Unless you’re an FFL, you probably aren’t legally required to have a bound book detailing each firearm and serial number. It can still be a good idea, though. You might still be able to rattle off the serial number on that oldass M16A2 you were issued in bootcamp twenty years ago, but you’re far less likely to recall every serial number on every gun. The vast majority of stolen firearms reports don’t initially include a serial number. Not only will a serial number potentially help nab the shithead who stole the gun, it can also help with recovery later if it’s picked up as another part of a crime. If you don’t have a log, all is not lost if you purchased the firearm from an FFL you can still contact. They’ll have the transaction recorded in their bound book, although they may take a few days to get back to you. Obviously, it’s best that you have immediate access to it yourself.
This log can be made in a simple notebook, in a Google or other Cloud Service document, or even in a draft email ala’ General Petraeus. What matters is that you’ll be able to find it to report it stolen.
Remember, it’s not just the guns themselves. Scopes and other attachments should be noted along with estimated prices for each. As an aside, this may also be helpful information for your family should you pass early–far too many spouses get taken advantage of when a gun owner passes, and you should do your best to make sure it doesn’t happen to your own.
You don’t have to take fancy photos, just clear snapshots. Unless you’re as old as Hernandez, your phone probably has the ability to automatically upload to Dropbox or Drive or iCloud or whatever. Turn that feature on, lay out your firearms, and make like you’re Ansel Easton Adams. One photo of the serial number and one of the overall configuration will do. You could simply do this instead of having a logbook, but including the additional information on estimated pricing is slightly harder with this method.
It’s best to do both–like having a bag over your own head in case the bag over her head falls off.
Your renters or homeowners insurance may not cover firearms. Having a specific firearms rider to your insurance policy may be an option. Alternately, having a completely separate policy may be the best way to go. If you’re an NRA member you’re automatically eligible for $2,500 of insurance, but you do have to sign up for it. Anything beyond that $2,500 amount, you have to purchase separately. Remember my friend who had his entire gun safe stolen? USAA took great care of him. Be sure to read all the fine print, and you may find that some policies may suit your needs better than others.
Find out if accessories like magazines, ammunition, optics, silencers et al are covered under a given policy or rider, or if it’s just the guns themselves. Some policies require photographs and serial numbers, others do not. If you have a particularly expensive item, it may have to be appraised by a qualified independent party to be fully covered.
No, none of this is as fun or as sexy as security cameras, door jamb armor, Medeco locks, and anti-smash films. None of it is cool to brag about to your friends. But if someone makes it through all of your security measures, and gets all of your guns anyway–this is the stuff that will help you get them back, or get them properly replaced.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.
About the Author: A combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Dave “Mad Duo Merrill” is a former urban warfare and foreign weapons instructor for Coalition fighting men. An occasional competitive shooter, he has a strange Kalashnikov fetish the rest of the minions try to ignore. Merrill, who has superb taste in hats, has been published in a number of places, the most awesome of which is, of course, here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He loves tacos, is kind of a dick and married way, way above his pay grade. You can contact him at Merrill(at)BreachBangClear.com and follow him on Instagram here (@dave_fm).