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?
Thanks for the nice analysis.
I had not considered the need for the panic button close to the door. It makes sense.
Good info Tom! Thank-you for helping us become more aware of this home security issue. It is scary stuff to think about, but it better to do so and be safe than it is to be sorry.
It constantly amazes me that people don't install a peephole in their door. They cost, what, no more than five dollars? Drill the door, screw it in and you're done.
I also like the idea of showing up at the door visibly armed.
A quick addendum to the idea of a mail slot. An alternative is a pet door at you could fit a clip board through. We have a cat door like that six feet from the front door, at a distance so you cannot reach through it to unlock the door and get in the house. Ours is in a window beihind a bench on the porch and behind the couch in the living room. It also keeps us from opening the door to let cats in and out, which was not only a security vulnerabilty but also cost money letting out heated or cooled air.
Not that we are rich enough that I am worried about a home invasion, and we don't have cash or jewelry (or illegal stuff) worth stealing. Hm. I wonder what socioeconomic strata are most plagued by home invasions?
Open carry to receive a package? Seriously? Whats next, wait until atl least two patrol cars chase you for some traffic infraction to verify the first isn't a fake? What do you do when the real frazzled party claims you pointed a weapon in their direction which gets translated into "pointed at me"....even if you didn't? It all seems so outlandish - I guess mine is a small town response to a large(r) population reality but wow, in my world you'll get a visit from the law once that story gets around (in like a day). Not judging, just amazed at a reality likely to spread far and wide. Thanks.
A couple years ago there was a rash of home invasions in the nearest city. The ones I was aware of were the homes of elderly people living in basically working class neighborhoods.
Wrt security measures, I think about them from time to time, but realize that our home is particularly vulnerable. We have four doors to the house, two of which are rarely used. Three of the four have windows through which we can see each other. We also have large windows throughout the house, as was typical a hundred and some years ago when it was built. They were actually a selling point when we bought. It is a vulnerability I'm just living with. I like the natural light.
I'm with you. I'm just used to a small town where home invasions are unknown.
I installed our panic button about 15 feet straight back from the front door, so that one can retreat and gain some distance in the event of a forced entry. If they beat the door down or push inside, you don't want the panic button right by the entry.
Home invasions are not an urban only issue. There was a home invasion about two years ago out in the country south of us. Two elderly people were beaten and shot to death. If I recall, the motive was that it looked like an easy target to a couple of meth head teens.
Why would you not carry to receive a package? A lot of folks carry in the home and if you invest in a good belt/holster, it's comfortable. More comfortable than having your handgun in a different room. If I did not recognize the person at the door, I would not hesitate to OC instead of CCing. I do agree with you that it's a reality that's becoming more common every day. I'm amazed at the number of people that have tell me they just got their carry license. Just had one call last night.
I understand the emotion about feeling safe in a small town, but many rural areas in the US have high rates (on a per capita basis) of violent crime and always have. Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" is a true story of a home invasion robbery and murder that occurred in a small town Kansas in 1964. During the Great Depression, there was a lot of violent crime throughout rural America.
I grew up in a small town, and like you, I've always felt a sense of safety there. Still, remember that many criminals are transient and they travel around in search of soft targets (and to stay one step ahead of the law). It is wise to be as prepared as possible whereever you live. I have large windows, too, but I use exterior lighting to reduce the perception of that feature as a target.
Here's a Philly home invasion targeting illegal drugs.
Ooops! Wrong house for a burglary/home invasion.
At this early stage in which information is mostly unavailable, this looks more like a burglary of an occupied home, than a home invasion. Judging from the fact that perp #2 got away with the off-duty's car tells me that the two burglars were probably in the house long enough to find the off-duty's car keys while looking for valuables. Before they made their escape safely, the off-duty woke up and confronted them (or maybe they foolishly went in to wake him up) and the fireworks started. Perp #1 is no longer with us, and perp #2 escaped in the off-duty's car. If #2 is caught, he'll be charged with 2nd degree murder as he is responsible for the death of his co-conspirator (any death which happens in the course of another felony is 2nd degree murder, regardless of how the death occurs or who dies).
Unfortunately it appears the police commisioner in Philly believe's the right to defend one's self is limited to the police unless approved by the state....
Yes, you're right rhare. Commissioner Ramsay, like most big city police chiefs appointed by very liberal big city mayors, toes the line on gun control. Keep in mind that he was previously chief in D.C. and Chicago. Think of the gun crime rates in those cities!! Nothing else needs to be said on that.
Updated details on the burglary of the off-duty's home: http://www.myfoxphilly.com/story/19091970/off-duty-officer-shoots-burglar-to-death-in-home-invasion
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Why wouldn't you? First of all, it is an awesome deterent. Second it is the ultimate protection. If the person shows up at the door is frazzled by a holstered firearm, then maybe they need to find another line of work. Many in Law Enforcement are happy that people are taking personal responsibility and arming themselves.
I know my UPS and USPS drivers. They have absolutely no problems with my carrying, and both carry when not working themselves.
Treemagnet, I have only carried my gun openly at the door twice in the three and a half years I have had my sidearm. I know my UPS, FedEx and USPS carriers and even if it's not the regular UPS guy, for example, they still have the truck and the handheld computer so I can see that they are legit, right through my door's peephole.
One guy I open-carried my gun at the door for was "looking for yard work" via bicycle, and I felt he fit the description of somone who had stolen a lot of bikes and things from yards in the neighborhood. (Damned straight I wanted this fellow to know ours was a bad place to rob.) The other time was a salesman I did not know. In both cases, my sidearm was in my waistband.
You seem to have a misconception about what open carry means. You do not "point the gun" at anyone. Open carry merely means a gun is visible: either outright visible or "printing"--short for imprinting--and that means people can tell you are wearing it even if it is covered up. As in, "That's definelty a gun in my pocket. It's not just that I am happy to see you."
Sheesh - pointing a gun at anyone is only done when you are in a life-threatening situation and defending yourself. That's just basic safety.
Last week I read about an invasion where a women asked if she could go swimming in the guy's pool. She promptly undressed completely & went swimming. While the homeowner was distracted/entertaining her, her accomplis was robbing the house.
I saw that too and started a discussion about it in Groups/Personal Defense and Home Safety.
Just a thought but if you do not know the post man and have any doubt. Tell him through the closed door that you will pick it up at the post office later. Then you do need to open the door. Same for the other delivery types.
Just wondering, if you feel the need to carry a weapon to your own door, don't you think it may be time to move? If I ever felt that I needed a weapon to carry to my own front door I would be selling everything and hi-tailing it for safer grounds. I understand that it is not the easiest thing to do but, maybe it's time to skeedattle outta there? Is this what life in the US has come to?
In the last couple of days alone, in the metro detroit area (not the war zone of a city, but the nice safe suburbs), a home that I'd estimate well over $500,000 in value (so it's a really nice neighborhood), suffered a home invasion. Kid Rock's (yes the singer), house had an attempted break in, and he's complete with his gate.
I'm in a fairly nice neighborhood, that last summer had several daytime breakins... until they came into a house with an armed resident.
So no, it doesn't really matter, BG can strike at any time, anywhere. One of the scams is to show up on your door step selling something. Partially to see if you're home, partially to see if there's anything of value.
This might be a difficult perspective to understand for a lot of readers here, but carrying a weapon as a routine is a pretty innocous practice. I believe when people read that others are fetching guns to answer doors, it sounds strange, alien and paranoid. Which, I can somewhat identify with.
Deliberately having to grab a weapon before opening your home to a potential stranger has a certain innate connotation of hostility embedded in it... as if the threat the individual is looking to address is going to knock (which is a 'polite' method of gaining entry), but is unconcerned with a robbery, or relying on getting to their weapon before a potential attacker gets to them.
I view grabbing a weapon in this manner as something other than "best practice", but for reasons I think are perhaps opposite from the mainstream notion... You should have your weapon on you.
When worn, a concealed weapon is not a lot different than a wristwatch. You don't always need to know exactly what time it is. You don't have to walk around focusing on your watch, and after you put it on in the morning, it's just one of those things that you have around until you turn in for the night. More often than not, you can live without it, but when you need it, it's good to have it right there, accessible and close at hand.
No doubt, some will find it proposterous that a handgun could be analogous to a wristwatch - afterall, wristwatch assaults are at an all time low, and the news is hardly concerned with regulating opinions on them.
But the two have more in common than you might think. They're tools with a specific and expressed purpose. They're both uncomfortable at times. They also both have a tendency to keep you out of trouble... and again, you might be thinking "look at all the trouble with guns!" but the truth of the matter is there is trouble with people, and carrying a gun legally requires you be cautious, mature and avoid conflict. Even the most naive CCW holders understand there are legal problems associated with a shooting.
It is also an unspoken sentiment that you will "hold the line".
Fleeing for safer grounds frees up territory for those with ill-intentions. What happens when there are no more safer grounds to run to?
If you're going to own a gun, it is safest while it is on your person - and it does you the most good in that configuration. Same as a watch.
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