Sunday, June 5, 2011

Home Invasion: Country vs. City after the Economic Collapse

This is one of those recurrent topics and I receive email asking about this very often.
Where will I fare better? What’s the safest place to be in as everything goes down?

Those of you that have been reading my blog for a while know where I stand. I don’t think an isolated homestead or farm is the best place to be in, and it certainly isn’t when crime becomes a real problem all across the country. In people’s minds, in their novels and fantasies thing may always work out just the way they want. It also helps that none of the things speculated in these fictional scenarios have ever occurred, at least not yet. A person can be so easily fooled into thinking that his retreat or homestead in any given US state is safe from looters and criminals because this or that “expert” claims so, the real reason why it´s been working well for any given period of time is that you’ve never actually had it put to test by your environment. Argentina puts you to test and that’s where suppositions, theories and wishful thinking crash against the cold hard reality.

The reason I’m revising this topic is because a friend of mine suffered an attack to his farm in just a couple days ago. He’s smart, successful, experienced, and a true survivalist in my opinion. You might remember the home invasion attempt my dentist suffered a while back. This friend of mine wasn’t that lucky. During the afternoon five men approached the housekeeper’s home and took the family hostage. Dogs barked but they moved fast. They used ski masks and gloves, armed of course, communicated with radio and were very professional. Right after reducing the housekeepers they quickly moved to the main building and took control of the main house. My friend wasn’t there with his wife and kids, it was occupied by other family members that where visiting. Being the smart person he is, that’s not his main residence and prefers to live in a gated community. As found on Wikipedia:
Since Buenos Aires has been traditionally regarded as a socially integrated city, gated communities have been the object of research by sociologists. Gated communities are an important way through which people – particularly middle and upper classes – cope with the high levels of violent criminal activity in Greater Buenos Aires.[9]
The home invaders went after the usual, money and jewelry. They also took his guns, gear, Bug out Bag among other items. On the bright side no one was hurt and that’s at least some good news. He wasn’t there at the time this happened and given the level of professionalism, I’d say they studied his movements for some time and waited until he left.

Guys, we’re talking about a place that had people living in it, a family dedicated to keeping an eye on the place, and a dozen workers doing various jobs all across the estate. Unless you have dedicated security, all day long, all year long, its impossible to defend such a place. I’m not talking about your friend Joe coming over “when SHTF” or the guy next door pulling security. The guy next door will have to travel to Denver next week because of his job and uncle Joe will get bored of doing this after a couple weeks, or his wife will divorce him, moving to California with her new boyfriend and Joe following so as to at least be able to see his kids on weekends. That’s life. Counting on less than professional hired security for this on a long term basis is as serious as playing fort with your kid, shooting at each other with Nerf guns.

Please do your research. Moving your family to a retreat in the sticks because its safer than cities would be a huge mistake, especially if that decision if ever put to test by real widespread high crime or anarchy events. Its not only Argentina. Look at Mexican retreats in druglord land across the American border, look at most South American countries with high levels of violent crime. Study South Africa’s white farmers and how they fared, even with hardened homes and hiring round the clock armed guards. Look at Bosnian farms and isolated houses during the beginning of the war, there’s lessons to be learned in all these scenarios and its historic, so you’re not basing your family’s well being on someone’s suppositions or fantasies, but on experience. Whatever decision you make regarding where you live, at least be honest with yourself and do it for the right reasons.

A quick Pro and Con list for rural vs city would be:

*Healthier lifestyle, fresh air, contact with nature. The calm, low stress lifestyle is one of the greatest advantages in my opinion.
*More space for your projects, gardening and raising live stock.
*Less likely to suffer opportunistic theft or vandalism incidents.
*Having your own firearm shooting range in your back yard means you can practice more, though defensive training should be done with other people in a more competitive environment so as to increase the stress factor and be objective regarding your skills in comparison to others.
*In a pandemic scenario, you’re safer if the disease is spread by contact with humans.

*Unless you’re self-employed in a line of work that makes no difference where you’re located, you’ll have less job opportunities. In many cases, job offers may be non-existent.
*Greater distance from hospitals. When needing immediate medical attention every second counts. The further away you are from advanced medical assistance your chances of survival are likewise reduced. This is an important factor, especially as you grow older.
*You are further away from schools. While some people homeschool, during an economic down turn every family member will have to bring an income so as to sustain the family and homeschool may not be viable. Though some may not admit it to themselves, not all parents are skilled teachers either.
*In a pandemic scenario, you’re much more exposed to diseases transmitted by animals (dengue, for example) since the fumigation and pest control efforts will be concentrated on the most populated areas.
*If you have a job in a nearby city, chances are your commuting distance is now greater and you are more exposed to fluctuation of gas prices.
*In terms of security, while you avoid certain types of crime, your isolation and lack of neighbors also means criminals can be more bold, spend more time during home invasions without fear of being detected and help arriving any time soon. The homestead will also have more appealing loot than an average downtown or suburban home, and the risk of getting caught while perpetrating the crime is also less, with less witnesses and cameras compromising the operation.
Join the forum discussion on this post


David said...

Should crime begin to skyrocket in the US, it seems that gating off subdivisions might be a path to take. The problem is that the barbarians may already be inside the gates.

Have there been instances where it was "bad people" in gated communities that either perpetrated crimes or enabled henchmen from outside to do so?

Just curious. I think this might be a potential problem in the US, unless every gated community was created from scratch, and considerable effort to keep out the riffraff was made.

Anonymous said...

Mexico is quickly becoming a narco state, there are lessons that can be learned from there as well. Many of the Mexican wealthy are fleeing the country and moving to the U.S., and not just across the border - 200 miles or more is common. They say in Monterrey Mexico becomes controlled by Narcos, the country will likely be doomed.

Gated communities are already being scoped out by criminals. Who pays attention to the lawn maintenance crews who have access inside the gates. I doubt if the home owners even know the 1st name of one of them, they just smile and wave as they leave in their Beemers.

Don Williams said...

1) There is a third alternative that Ferfal is kinda overlooking.

Mel Tappan --who in 1978 sparked the American survivalist idea of a self-sufficient farm 400 miles from any major city and protected with assault rifles-- also argued that isolated retreats were idiotic. In fact, he told of a case in which a hippie couple had been killed by a motorcycle gang.
Some of Mel's modern day acolytes have forgotten that.

2)Mel advised getting a farm but one near a town of 5000 or so people --large enough to have a hospital, specialists like welders, automobile service stations etc -- but self-sufficient in food supply and able to mount a militia large enough to fight off anything less powerful than a military battalion.

Mel also acknowledged that the one malign force it was impossible to prepare against was the US government. Asteriod strikes, deadly pandemics, bandit gangs, famine, nuclear fallout -- there is a fix for almost everything.

But not for government bureaucrats/tax collectors backed by the military.

3) Mel argued that you needed to be well integrated into the community and close friends with the local population/elites --rather than blowing into town at the last moment and hoping to be accepted.

If you think about it, chaos is a time when you REALLY need to know who to trust -- and who will stab you in the back (literally) at the opportune moment.

There is no free lunch. One of the nice things about living in a city --or suburb -- is that you can keep your privacy and choose your friends. Or be a recluse if you want. But that antisocial freedom means you won't have much of a network if things turn to crap.

Like that TV reality show "Survivor" you will never know when your new found buddies will "vote you off the Island" when it seems expedient.

Don Williams said...

1) PS I would note that history supports Mel Tappan's idea of the fortified community -- Greek city states, the hilltop fortified towns of medieval Tuscany, the town clustered around the local castle in the Middle Ages -- or settlers around the forts like Boonesborough on the American frontier.

2) History also suggests that those farmers located too far out to live in the town at night --and to participate actively in the town's politics and council meetings --tended to get the crappy end of the stick when push came to shove.

Anonymous said...

David - Gate communities are pretty easy to penetrate. No one is going to crash through the front gate. But climb over of but through a back fence? Sure!

Ferfal - This sound sto be like the bandits had been reconing the fame for a long time. Or maybe one of the house keepers was working as an inside informant for them??

Anonymous said...

Statistics show that most criminals are not people who suddenly experience unemployment or poverty, and then turn to crime. They are people who chose crime as their job from day one, and never held a regular job. So if you're worried about what you called "bad people" who are already living in a gated community, all you need to do is set some criteria for living there: a solid employment record, no criminal record, and no houseguests with criminal records.

Maldek said...

FerFal I can support all your arguments from my experience here in Paraguay.

Here it is exactly as you describe.
The "estancieros" experience home invasions on a regular base. Often it is former workers who got fired who provide inside information about the property and possible loot and then their "friends" or even their family members will come to a visit.

They are patient. Sometimes sitting in the woods for days, waiting for the right time.
And there is one more point FerFal didnt mention yet. Revenge.

Imagine you ARE a die hard mofo warrior, you fight the bad guys and you somehow manage to win; killing 2 bad guys and leaving the other 2 wounded.

Well guess what, all those guys might have family. A BIG family more often than not and here in Paraguay they will not care if their "boys" been gangsters, they care that you killed them and they WILL take revenge. Blood for blood.

So now imagine yourself sitting on your farm day by day, week by week and month by month knowing that there are dozens of family members living in your area who might be after you and your family now. Good luck and sweet dreams!

I drive my tractor in pearls... said...

Although its unfortunate for your friend, it is great no one was injured. However, you refer to the farm as an "estate" and that he does not live there. I will assume this is a wealthy man and he would be a target wherever he lives - farm/city. Might it be also advantageous to advise to not LOOK like you have anything someone would want?

Those that attacked, seemed to be pretty professional - they werent opportunists which to me are the more dangerous and also more prevalent in the city. I would take a professional robbery team in the country that the desperation and stupidity in the city any day. If I have to pick and not just avoid both altogether :)

Also - we are in a pretty unique position in that our large farm is actually behind a gated community - we are land locked and they must grant us land access. This gated community is also pretty rural. As such, I can tell you that gated access neighborhoods are bull... EVERYONE has the code - housekeepers, garbage collectors, UPS, FedEx, Mailman, friends, electricians, plumbers, lawn care....the list goes on. And if you dont know it - guess - try 1234 or the local favorite university. If you think you are safe or that your neighbor cares if something happens, you are mistaken.

Our farm is a family farm, so we are not alone, and we change the codes often among other things. As in all things, we do what we can and prepare as best as we can - what else can anyone in city or country do?

Anonymous said...

Last year in the State of VA (actually Commonwealth) several people from City of Richmond were caught after crime spree in rural area's breaking into homes. They chose sites based on remoteness.

Don Williams said...

1) What is hilarious about some modern day American survivalist writers like James Wesley Rawles is that they claim to be the heirs of Mel Tappan -- and yet their advice/books suggest that they never read Tappan all that closely.

2) For example, Mel Tappan dismissed Rawles's rural retreat idea as "Playing Batman in the Boondocks".
After all, How can you work in a field when a sniper could drop you at any minute?

3) A copy of Mel's 1981 book "Tappan on Survival" is available on the Internet at .

Chapter 3 ("Retreating") has an interesting review of this subject.

One thing to remember in reading Tappan's discussion is that the US rate of violent crime was MUCH higher in the 1970s than it is today -- partly due to demographics (giant baby boom cohort entering their 20s) and partly due to anti-war backlash to Vietnam war/draft and the civil rights struggle.

There were massive demonstrations, riots and entire blocks of US cities burned down back then --today's elderly US population can't even mount a decent demonstration on the Mall even as Wall Street steals $5 Trillion out of the US Treasury.

US publishers, embarrassed at having rejected Ferfal's enormously successful book, are planning to republish Tappan's book.

Don Williams said...

4) As I noted in my Amazon review of Ferfal's book, Tappan's weakness was that he had never worked in the US Intel community, didn't have security clearances, and hence was largely ignorant of the US Government's capabilities and plans for "Continuity of Government".

5) When it comes to survivalism, the US Pentagon makes people like Rawles look like ignorant babes. One of the few things that could ever relax the hold of the US government over the US population was a major nuclear attack by Russia -- and the Government was prepared to deal even with that.


6) IF you look at the major US military installations, you will notice that most of them are located outside the areas which would receive heavy fallout in a nuclear attack. (More info available on request)

In the event of war, the US government could seize the grain silos and food warehouses. With control of the food supply, you control the population , although it would not be expressed quite that bluntly of course.

7) In a national disaster, the US President assumes emergency powers similar to those of Adolf Hitler in WWII. He can basically seize anything, draft anyone and do anything he wants. Those powers are subject to review and approval by Congress every six months.

What is hilarious is that the emergency shelter of Congress for nuclear war was exposed about 10 years ago and was revealed to be under a hugely expensive 5 star resort in the isolated West Virginia countryside:

8) The US news media averted its eyes from the obvious: That isolated oasis of luxury looks like a perfect location for a keeping a group of people captive so that they could be strongarmed into rubberstamping a coup indefinitely.

9) Other nation states, of course, have similar plans, capabilities and facilities:

Maldek said...

@Don W

Tappan's book is scary. If you read the first pages you could believe he is talking about *TODAY* but yet the book was written in 1980.

So the guy was wrong.
No breakdown of society, no hyperinflation nothing.
His arguments however were correct back then and still are.

So why was he wrong?

FerFAL said...

A simple suggestion, this same post is a thread over at the forum:

Its much easier for you guys to discuss this over there. Here, I have to approve everything because of Spam and ads so it slows down the conversation a bit.

Anonymous said...

Ferfal - To consolidate comments, just disable comments here and put the link to the website on the bottom of each page.

Don Williams said...

No problem, Ferfal.

Maldek, I will (try) to answer your question over at the forum after I get my registration password for that site.

FerFAL said...

People cna do wahtever they want, I just tihnk its more comfortable to use the forum for actual discussions and leave the comments for you know, comments. :-) Sometimes its hard to tell the difference so I just leave the tools out there for people to use as they want.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

A couple of questions for Ferfal,

1. In much a rural American the crime rate is much lower than it is in urban areas. Why should this change even if the overall crime rate goes up?

2. Is the high rates of crime in south Africa and rural Latin America a result of their remote location or the fact that income disparity is so great in the rural areas of those countries? White farmer in south Africa are not on the same social scale as much of his farm laborer. How does this compare to much of rural America where everyone is more or less on the same social scale?

3. You have convinced me that horrific crimes are common in rural areas of Latin America. But what makes you think that you are more likely to suffer a horrific crime in rural areas as opposed to urban areas? They both seem pretty bad from your description. Are you sure you are more likely to be a victim in one area as opposed to the other?

From what you have said, it seems to me that you could suffer the same thing your friend did while you where at work. And the attackers could be dressed as cops. How is that any different from what your friend suffered from?

In spite of the some what adversarial nature of the above questions I am of a divided mind regarding the urban/rural question. I can think of historical examples that would tend to support either point of view.

But I think rural/urban question pales in comparison to whether you fit in to your neighbor hood and the average moral character of those neighbors regardless of how far away they are. No man is an island even in the country.

Anonymous said...

This is how I see it the morality level from the 1930s depression is gone and now if collapse happens well expect animal element you've never seen maybe even cannibalism.. I think the super affluent area here is a big suburb they have really well paid o fficers and paid private security in this area I know people can just roam in if SHTF the p olice and private s ecurity will close the streets and check everyone coming in most people will not have to go out since the town has everything , and will most likely have food airlifted in seriously that is the level of wealth In fact I heard from insider that it is these areas that they are told they will protect the area of doctor, surgeons, politicos highly educated types that live there.I think that the poor area will be left to do or die welcome to crazy town . This is what ia heard anyway. I always thought all the crazies should live on side of the earth and all the nice, respectful, polite and quiet neighbor type with the well maintained yard people should live on the other side and the two shall never meet.

Anonymous said...

There is good reason why castles had a draw bridges and knights to protect the castle along with hot oil and spark to deter intruders.
While in South America I saw homes in a nice area the security was a few guys carrying some serious looking GI Joes stuff...
seeing that well gives you the feeling that owners of these homes are SERIOUS AND NOT MESSING AROUND!
I will not be surprised if we do not end up seeing that here.

For a couple years I lived in a rare type of high end gated community . Security was plain clothed guys along with eye in the sky . These guys were paid well and trained by the best. I rarely saw them, not one crime had ever been committed there ever. It was the quietest, incredibly beautiful and safest places ever.

However, as history shows castle have been overrun by groups with a bad case of the crazies.

If there is collapse really nice neighborhood would hired private security and have barricades put up the neighbors would ban together and if necessary stand guard and have food airlifted in!

I think the movie, Jericho was amazing to watch a perfect small community with just enough of the right elements to survive a total breakdown of law and order.

Seriously, it is really too bad all the crazies cannot be with the crazies all living in crazy town and all the nice, normal people that have been proactive and prepared be totally isolated from the crazy town people and the two shall never meet.

My friend says, when a total breakdown occurs and the pres declares it then all the prisoners in jail will be eliminated to decrease escape or risks to general pop.following that the officers will get take positions in the communities where they will be needed.

Something is very wrong when people even in crisis behave like what was reported in Katrina, there is something much deeper there to look at within the fabric of the psyche that took place there.
This was the worst of humanity if you want to see the best of humanity look to Australia in time of crisis the police had a chance to breathe and relax put there feet on the desk this tells a lot about the psyche of the people.