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Preventing Home Invasion Tips
Home invasion is the crime of entering a private and occupied dwelling, with the intent of committing a crime and often while threatening the resident. It is a legally defined offense in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, and applies even if entry is not forced. It can even apply if someone is invited into a home and remains on the premises after being asked to leave by the resident.
Home invasion differs from burglary. Burglary is illegal entry into any occupied or unoccupied building, with intent to committ a felony, often theft. Home invasion sometimes involves several criminals, whereas burglary tends to be performed by a single perpetrator.
Home invasion may be accompanied by other crimes. The invaders may follow their victims home, commit breaking and entering, and are sometimes intent on assault, robbery, or rape.
Last Updated - 2nd December 2005
Residential burglars work mostly during the day and when a residence is more likely to be unoccupied. Most burglars work alone and tend to probe a neighborhood looking for the right residence and the right opportunity. Alarm signs and decals, bars on windows, strong locks and doors, big dogs, and alert neighbors can sometimes deter burglars. Also, burglars will avoid a confrontation and will usually flee when approached. Most burglaries do not result in violence unless the criminal is cornered and uses force to escape.
Home invasion robbers, in contrast, work more often at nights and on weekends when residences are more likely to be occupied. The home invaders will sometimes target the resident as well as the residence. The selection process may include a woman living alone, a senior citizen or a known drug dealer, for example. It is not unheard of for a robber to follow you home based on the value of the car you are driving or the jewelry you are wearing. Many home robbers have been in your home before as a delivery person, installer or repair vendor. Home robbers rarely work alone and rely on an overwhelming physical confrontation to gain control and instill fear in their victims. The greatest violence usually occurs during the initial confrontation and home invaders often come prepared with handcuffs, rope, duct tape, and firearms. Some in-home robbers appear to enjoy the intimidation, domination, and violence and some even claim its a "rush."
The act of committing a home invasion is escalating much like carjacking. The reason for the increase seems to follow a similar pattern. Much like automobiles, the traditional commercial targets for robbers have hardened themselves against criminal attack and have reduced available cash. Technology has allowed commercial establishments to install affordable video surveillance systems, silent alarms, and other anti-crime deterrent devices. A residence can appear as a more attractive choice.
Home invaders know that they won't have to overcome alarm systems when the home is occupied or be worried about video cameras and silent alarms. Home robbers have privacy once inside and dont have to deal with customers suddenly driving up or security patrols. Once the offenders take control of a residence they can force the occupants to open safes, locate hidden valuables, supply keys to the family car, and PIN numbers to their ATM cards. Home robbers will try to increase their escape time by disabling the phones and sometimes will leave their victims bound or incapacitated. It is not unheard of for robbers to load up the victims car with valuables and drive away without anyone in the neighborhood taking notice.
Method of Operation
The most common point of attack is through the front door or garage. Sometimes the home invaders will simply kick open the door and confront everyone inside. More common is when the home invaders knock on the door first or ring the bell. The home invader hopes that the occupant will simply open the door, without question, in response to their knock. Unfortunately, many people do just that.
Home invaders will sometimes use a ruse or impersonation to get you to open the door. They have been known to pretend to be delivering a package, flowers or lie about an accident like hitting your parked car. Once the door is opened for them, the home invaders will use an explosive amount of force and threats to gain control of the home and produce fear in the victims. Once the occupants are under control the robbers will begin to collect your valuables.
It is very important to take precautions to avoid becoing a victim of home invasion. Here are some guidelines to follow to guard against home invasion.
The weakest home security link is the home occupant who fails to lock doors or windows or who will open the door without question at the sound of a knock. The best defense against home invasion is education and planning. Parents should hold a family meeting to discuss how to answer the door when someone knocks. Another important topic is how to act should your home or family be invaded. Once you know how home robbers work, you can effectively prevent most occurrences.
Remember these important security steps:
- Always ask for identification and be cautious of anyone asking you to open your door (be particularly careful of those who come to the door acting as utility company employees, law enforcement personnel and salesmen). - Never rely on a chain latch as a barrier to a partially opened door.
- Install deadbolt locks.
- Use four 3" screws to secure heavy-duty lock strike plates.
- Keep doors and windows locked even when you are at home.
- Keep shades or drapes drawn after dark. - Relinquish only your car key when your car is in for service or at parking lots/garages.
- If you see someone outside your home who looks suspicious, contact the police and ask them to investigate.
- Install solid core doors, heavy duty locks, and window security devices
- Lock all doors, windows, and garages at all times
- Use four three-inch screws to secure heavy duty lock strike plates
- Use the door peephole BEFORE opening the door
- Use your porch light to help you to see clearly
- Never rely on a chain-latch as a barrier to partially open the door
- Never open the door to strangers or solicitors
- Call the police if the stranger acts suspicious
- Alert your neighbors to suspicious solicitors
- Hold a family meeting to discuss home security plans
- Set the perimeter alarm at night, if you have one
- When in doubt, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR!
Audible alarm sirens can prevent home invasion...if they are set. Alarm systems can be designed so that perimeter door and window sensors are activated while the home is occupied. The alarm can be set to instantly go off upon unauthorized entry. Be prepared to give a prearranged duress password to the alarm company if they call. Most alarm panels have an emergency panic button that will function much like a 911 call and will instruct your alarm monitoring company to call the police. Alarm company lawn and window signs help advertise that your house is wired and capable of getting a response from the police. These alarm signs and decals offer good deterrence value and may cause the robber to select another victim.
Automatic Phone Dialers
Automatic dial telephones, that can call 911 in speakerphone mode, can be effective in getting police assistance. If a home invader breaks in you may have just a split second to push the 911 direct-dial button on your telephone. If you dial in speakerphone mode the police dispatcher can listen in on what is going on in the room. Every telephone in your home should be programmed with this feature and all family members should be instructed how to make this emergency call. Your home address will automatically pop up on the police dispatcher screen and an officer should be dispatched even if the phone wire is cut. All 911 hang-up calls are supposed to be investigated by the police because of this type of scenario.
Have an Escape Plan
If someone in the household can escape and call for help, the home invaders will have lost their advantage of having privacy and time. To some, running away from your family in crisis is distasteful, especially to men or women with children. However, the alternative might mean being handcuffed or tied-up or otherwise incapacitated and left to watch in horror as your family is molested. If you have a plan for escaping, make sure you include were to run and what to say. Sometimes a radical escape measure pays off, in life and death circumstances, like diving through a plate glass window, jumping from a balcony or climbing onto the roof. Although you might sustain minor injuries you must weigh them against your chance of survival with the assailants.
Home invaders will sometimes threaten harm to children to get adults to comply with their demands. But at the same time, children are often overlooked as potential rescuers and sometimes are not as well guarded. If the opportunity presents itself, a trained child can dial 911, activate an alarm panic button, or escape to the neighbors house to summon the police. If they are capable, they should do it.
Never Stop Thinking
Keeping a cool head is important, even in dire circumstances. If you can keep your wits about you one can increase their options by waiting for the right moment to act. Always be thinking and re-evaluating the situation as it evolves. At first there may be no chance for escape, but after a while you may see an opening. Fighting may not be wise, however the attackers may let their guard down once you appear to comply. If you decide to strike a blow, do it fast, suddenly, and forceful to the nose, eyes, or throat without concern for the damage you might inflict. While the assailant is momentarily stunned, make your escape. Dont stand there waiting to throw more punches or gather family members. You might ask, won't that cause them to harm me for sure? Maybe, if they catch you. This is an option that must be considered. Sometimes hours into the siege, an opportunity arises where you can hit the automatic dial on the telephone or alarm panic button without being seen. Always be looking for that chance.
What Doesnt Always Work
Screaming and shouting is the easiest and most natural thing that almost everyone can do. Screaming can alert savvy neighbors to call the police or the noise alone may scare off the home invaders. However, home invaders know this and will be prepared to make you stop screaming, by force, if necessary. One of the first threats you will hear is, if you scream Ill kill you. If you cant escape, but are out in public, scream your head off. Scream things like, call 911. Visit with your neighbors so they know that you have a family plan and teach them how to react when you need help.
Handguns and pepper spray can provide a means of self-defense in a life-threatening situation. Homeowners have successfully defended their families in the past from home invaders using such weapons. However, far more homeowners have lost their weapons to home invaders because they couldn't get to them in time to use them. Most chemical sprays are tucked away somewhere and many handguns are kept unloaded or locked up to prevent children from getting their hands on them. During a home invasion, you cannot always count on your ability to get to these weapons before being injured yourself.
Fighting with the intruders sometimes works, especially if you have some training and are physically fit. But for most, fighting doesn't work because the victim was pre-selected for their lack of fight capability. In a life-threatening situation there are no rules for fighting in self defense. The idea is not to stand toe-to-toe and duke it out. All you need is one incapacitating blow to the nose, eyes, or throat to allow time to get out of there and call for help. Take a self-defense class together with your family so all can learn the proper techniques and can practice the procedures. A practiced technique has a better chance of being used effectively in a crisis.
Faking illness doesnt always work especially in the home. Most home invaders dont care about your welfare anyway. Faking illness might work in public or while being transported or while fighting off molesters but dont count on it as you only choice. You must decide in advance depending on your acting skills.
What Not to Do
Dont ever try to pull a weapon on an armed perpetrator who has you covered with a handgun unless you feel its your last chance. Dont ever agree to be transported somewhere else like to an ATM machine or other location unless you feel it's a life or death decision. The second crime scene is almost always more violent than in your home. If you have a choice, never agree to be tied-up, handcuffed or placed in the trunk of a car because it takes away most of your self defense options. Dont ever follow an intruder once they leave your home. Leave that for the police. Dont fight over property loss, it can be replaced your life cannot.
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