Stop Inviting Criminals Into Your Home

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

In the coming weeks, former SEAL sniper Cade Courtley and special operations physician Omar Hamada will each take a turn answering your most pressing survival inquiries.

So send in your questions! Shoot an email to and be sure to specify who your question is for.

Now let’s take a look at this week’s reader mail.

How do you feel about signage? Apart from a camera, “ADT” and “beware of dog,” do you want to advertise “insured by Smith & Wesson” or “trespassers will be shot, survivors will be shot again”?

— Nils M.

Signs like the ones you mentioned, Nils, essentially broadcast that there are firearms on the premises — which is both good and bad. Of course, this kind of sign would probably make a criminal think twice before breaking into your home in the middle of the night, because they will assume you are armed.

The drawback, however, is that these signs tell criminals where there are guns they can steal, which means they may be more likely to break into your home when you are gone. There are reports of certain biker gangs who acquire firearms by following people home from gun shops and watching the house until the victim leaves. Then they’ll break in and steal the firearms while no one is home.

So I don’t recommend putting up signs advertising that you have guns, because that may actually entice criminals. Plus, if you ever need to use a gun to defend yourself in your home, you don’t want to give some prosecutor more ammunition with which to build a case against your use of lethal force.

In other words, just stick with an alarm sign or a “beware of dog” sign (or both).

I have two questions about the Hack Shield. Do you need to have one card in front of your credit cards and a second one behind your credit cards? Or will one Hack Shield provide enough protection?

— Brenda H.

Great question, Brenda. The way our RFID-blocking card works, you only need one card in your wallet or purse to prevent a hacker from remotely stealing your information using a hand-held card reader.

The Hack Shield safeguards all of your cards using special e-field technology that blocks the radio frequency identification chips (that’s what RFID stands for) from transmitting data.

Even better, these cards do not require batteries or charging. All you need to do is put the Hack Shield in your wallet and you’re fully protected from electronic pickpocketing.

Why don’t banks provide this to their customers instead of the customer having to buy something to protect the card? Seems it is one expense after another with the customer bearing the cost… I don’t know the correct way to do this but feel strongly that having to bear the expense of buying something to protect a bank-issued card is not the best way to do business. What do you think? 

— Ernie B.

You bring up a great point, Ernie. Banks should provide this kind of protection. Unfortunately, banks are in the business of making money, and they aren’t too concerned with their customers having to spend money to protect their credit or debit cards.

So — as with most things — the burden to protect yourself is on you. Which is why it’s important to have an RFID-blocking card like the Hack Shield in your wallet — and why I carry mine every day.

I enjoyed your recent article on Baofeng radios. Can Baofeng radios also be used to monitor local police communications? If not, can you recommend a different (battery-operated) radio that could be used to do this? I’m thinking it might be useful if the SHTF to be able to monitor local police activity. Also, how can I discover what frequencies the local police (and/or fire departments) are using to communicate? 

— Karen S.

Yes, the Baofeng UV-5R V2+ can be used as a police scanner, but you will have to set it up for your specific location.

To do that, simply program the frequency of your local police department into the radio. You can find many public safety radio frequencies by going to

But remember — it’s illegal to transmit on a public safety channel, so be very careful if you decide to scan police frequencies.

Re: propane heaters for your home… What about carbon dioxide?

— Chuck C.

Well, Chuck, some propane heaters — such as the Buddy Series from Mr. Heater — are safe for indoor use, according to the manufacturer.

I have personally used the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater in my home. This specific heater has an oxygen depletion sensor, which will shut the heater off if the oxygen level inside the room becomes dangerous. This heater also features an automatic shut-off function if the heater tips over.

Now, even though a heater may be rated for indoor use, I still recommend exercising caution when using it indoors — and never leave it unattended.

Stay safe,
Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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