Here's brief news coverage of a 7-17-12, 9:30 am home invasion robbery in Philadelphia that we can learn from:
1. Like all home invasions, this one was well-planned. The robber picked his target purposefully (but for reasons known only to him, so far). He arrived when he knew the resident would be home. (This is what separates a burglary from a home invasion robbery.) He came armed with a handgun (and probably the intent to use it if necessary). He went to more trouble than the average home invader by acquiring and wearing a complete US Postal worker's uniform (not easily or quickly done). This disguise (that is, if the robber is not an actual USPS employee!!) would put most victims at ease and therefore insure the success of the crime. The actual robbery occurred indoors where neither witnesses nor police could possibly have observed the crime and responded. This gave the home invader the luxury of taking as much time as he needed to get what he came for. Like almost all home invasions, the crime is successful or is defeated at the front door. This one was a resounding success. Jewelry and $2,300 seems like a small score for such a well-planned crime. My hunch is either the robber didn't find what he expected to find, or the victim did not inform the police about ALL the items that were taken (eg. 5 lbs of marijuana, a kilo of cocaine, etc.).
2. The key to preventing a home invasion is to defeat it at the door. This is much harder when the wolf at the door looks like Little Red Riding Hood. However, there are two basic solutions: one non-violent and one violent. The non-violent solution is to create a way to "interview" people at your front door without actually opening the front door and making yourself vulnerable to a "push-in" or a drawn gun. One way to do this is through an intercom system, especially if you can also see the visitor through a window, glass in the door, a peephole in the door, or a security camera and monitor. The other method is to install a heavy, steel, high-security door on the outside of your home's door (in the place where a flimsy aluminum storm door would go). After the interview, you don't open the door unless you're completely satisfied the visitor is no threat. In this case, I assume the well-prepared robber insisted that the package he was delivering had to be signed for. This could be done by passing the signature pad back and forth through the mail slot, if it is big enough. (So if you're getting a new door, get the biggest mail slot available.) After the signature, the resident could wait until the "mailman" leaves before going out to get the package (after making sure there are no accomplices hiding near the door). If the mail slot was too small for the signature pad to be passed through it, the cautious homeowner could ask the "mailman" to set the package and signature pad down and step back 10 steps. (If he refused, I'd quietly call 9-1-1 and stall until police arrived.) When opening the door, the resident should pause cautiously after unlocking the door and before opening it. You should be ready to instantly relock the door and retreat inside if the "mailman" rushes the door as it is unlocked. The next most likely time the "mailman" would rush the door is the moment the resident is outside and bends over to pick up the package and the signature pad. (At all times, keep an eye on the "mailman's" hands to be tipped off as he begins to draw his weapon.) Be prepared to respond instantly! The violent way to defeat this kind of armed home invasion is to always answer the door carrying a concealed or openly carried firearm. I would still have a way to interview the "mailman" without opening the door, but if all my precautions failed, I'd quickly be able to respond to his deadly force with my own.
3. Two other considerations: A) Don't forget the possibility that the "mailman" at the front door is just a distraction for you while the main force of criminals surprises you be forcing entry in the rear of your house. And don't believe that the one visitor you can see at your front door is the only at your front door -- one or more may be in hiding very close by. B) You also need to have an alarm system control pad very near the front door so you can send an instantaneous silent or audible alarm to your monitoring center in case things go badly. But don't install the control pad in a place where a criminal could watch you input your disarming code from outside your home or where he could look inside through glass and see if your system is armed or disarmed. A remote panic button connected to your system and carried in your pocket or around your neck would be a nice alternative to using the control pad since you could reach it at any time and in any place in your home.
4. I know this is a frightening and very difficult crime to defend against. But it CAN be done. This home invasion crime is rising while other types of violent crime are falling nationwide in the US.
5. Anybody else have some helpful strategies or suggestions?