By Ed Santos, The Shooting Channel
I can only imagine the horror associated with the frightening and potentially dangerous crimes that can occur to a family experiencing a home invasion. I believe the greatest impact to us is the fact that the one place that we think of as our sanctuary has been violated.
When robbers force their way into an occupied home, apartment or hotel room to commit a crime it is classified as a home invasion. Many police agencies and the Department of Justice statistically record the crime as a residential burglary or a robbery making it difficult to track the crime of home invasion. The frightening thing about home invasion is that it is often motivated by a variety of criminal intentions.
Usually the intention is robbery.
Burglary Vs. Home Invasion
Burglars work mostly during the day when a residence is more likely to be unoccupied. 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 invaders in contrast, work more often at night and on weekends when homes are more likely to be occupied. The home invader will sometimes target the homeowner as well as the home. Likely targets may include a woman living alone, a wealthy 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.
The greatest violence usually occurs during the initial sixty seconds of the 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 it’s a “rush.” I believe the longer the invader is in the home the stronger their position. As they pass the time they are gathering intel, i.e. the knife on the kitchen counter, the bat behind the door, the cell phone on the coffee table and so on. An important point to remember is that isolation breeds aggression. Behind your closed doors you are more susceptible to more violence that you would be if attacked on the street.
A nanny cam image of a suspect who police said brutally beat a woman in front of her 3-year-old daughter in their home in Millburn, NJ. (credit: CBS 2)
The most common point of attack is through the front door or garage. Sometimes the home invader 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.
An Ounce of Prevention
Methods of preventing daytime burglaries will go a long way to preventing forced entry home robberies. If you can delay a home invader at the point of entry then you have a chance of deterring them or have time to call the police. Solid core doors, deadbolts, reinforced strike plates and hinges, and additional window blocking devices will stop most forced entries.
Often the weakest link in home security is the family that fails to lock doors or windows or who open doors without question.
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 and how to attack if your home is invaded.
Remember these important security steps:
- Install solid core doors, heavy duty locks, and window security devices
- Keep your doors, windows, and garages locked at all times
- Use extended length screws to secure strike plates and hinges
- Use the door peephole before opening the door
- Keep lights on around the exterior to help you see clearly
- Do not trust 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
- Have an escape plan in mind for your family
- Train family members on where to go and what to say. This plan should include your children. If someone can escape, the invaders will have lost their advantage of privacy and time.
- Use your alarm systems & consider a cell call out system
- Never stop thinking if you are held captive. Stay calm and take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves.
- Often, police are asked if people should resist invaders. There is no set answer for this, as it depends on the physical and mental capabilities of each person.
- Don’t fight over property with an intruder. Let them have the property; it is not worth your life and can be replaced.
- Never follow the intruder from scene, call 911 and get the best description you can get.
About the Author
Ed Santos is author of the books “Rule the Night Win the Fight” published 2008 and his latest “Low-Light Combatives” published 2013. He is the Owner/Founder of Center Target Sports, Inc. and Tactical Services Group. He teaches advanced firearm skills and Low-light training around the world and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.