How would you have fared in this home invasion attempt?

By thc0655 on Thu, Jul 16, 2015 - 9:51am

Watch this home security video of a recent Philadelphia home invasion attempt and honestly ask yourself: If these guys had done the same thing at my house, how would it have turned out?  (Don't just read my description of the home invasion below, because that will only engage you intellectually.  Watching the video will engage you emotionally too, and you need that to properly learn from it.)

Suspect #1 with a sawed off shotgun hidden in his pants rings the door bell while his partners hide in the darkness, trying to give whoever answers the door a feeling of safety.  But there was a delay in the resident answering the door. This is the first lucky break for the resident because had he come to the door immediately and opened it, they would've rushed in.  Because of the delay, the suspects start looking around the front of the house for another way in.  When the resident opens the door (VERY bad idea until you see who's there, and it almost got him killed), the home invaders are not close enough to rush in through the steel security door opened by the resident.  This was the home invaders' original "plan" (look like an innocent lone individual, ring the doorbell, draw their weapons and rush the open door). As he approaches the resident at the open front door, the first home invader draws a sawed-off shotgun from his pants.  This startles the resident who then slams the steel security door and locks it (the second lucky break for the resident, and probably saved his life).  Now all four home invaders rush to the front door (assume there's a car/van with a get-away driver nearby).  They make feeble attempts to pull the steel security door open, but they don't go to great lengths because they don't have any tools (aside from at least four firearms) and they know steel security doors cannot be breached by hand.  After looking for another way in (first floor window? possibly with bars on it?), the bumbling but brutal home invaders make their escape.

1.  The home invaders made very few preparations and plans for this crime.  They didn't even bring a simple screwdriver or pry bar with which to force open a door or window. Their "plan" was to have the resident open the door for them, rush in, and get what they came for. Burglars sneak in and take what they can find without being confronted or detected.  Home invaders, like these well-armed thugs, get in by hook or by crook, immobilize the residents and then threaten injury and death if the residents don't give them what they came for.  Also remember that burglars often work alone, but home invadars almost always work in teams (whether you can see all of them or not).  The police Lieutenant making the statement implies the home invaders may have had the wrong address as there was no known connection between them.  The worst thing that can happen to you in a home invasion is that you aren't who the home invaders think you are or you don't have whatever it is they came for (drugs, money, The Colonel's secret recipe, etc).  In those cases, you will be tortured to give the home invaders what they want and since you can't give it to them you will probably be tortured to death or executed after torture.  And the most chilling fact of this brief home invasion attempt is that the home invaders already know about the video surveillance system at the home or they discover it while at the front door AND THEY DON'T CARE.  Why wouldn't the home invaders care about the presence of video surveillance?  It's because they plan to take the surveillance tape/disc with them after the crime and TO KILL THE RESIDENTS to eliminate any witnesses!  (It will be no comfort to the dead victims if their murderers are later arrested because the surveillance video was being stored in "the cloud" and led detectives to their killers.  A sign on the outside of the house indicating video surveillance which was being stored off-site might have deterred these home invaders, and it might not.  Don't stake your life on it.  Who knows if they can even read?)  Video surveillance is a good single layer in your home defense plan. I have video surveillance at my home and I recommend it to others, but video surveillance is not a "force field" around your home keeping bad guys out.  I say that because that's pretty much how many home owners and businesses think about video surveillance: "bad guys can't commit crimes here because I have video cameras."  

2.  A steel security door properly installed is a fantastic part of any home defense plan.  Not only does it prevent all but the most determined and skilled attempts to get past it, but it also allows you to interview people at your door without opening or unlocking it.  BUT IT ONLY WORKS IF YOU KEEP IT CLOSED AND LOCKED!  (Had this home had any standard exterior door, the home invaders would've simply kicked it in after it was slammed in their faces.)  This resident heard his door bell, went to the door, and when he didn't see anybody, opened the door to see what was going on.  Bad mistake!  If you have a steel security door for safety reasons, then home invasion is one thing you're concerned about.  Whenever you go to the door, you should have "home invasion" in your mind and don't let your guard down (or open the door) until you have decided there is DEFINITELY no danger.  The most common way a home invasion begins is to have one member of the team ring the door bell and talk the resident into opening the door.  The second most common way is to ring the door bell, hide nearby, and then rush the door when the resident comes outside to see what's going on. (Instead of ringing the bell or knocking, variations include calling the resident on the phone and asking him/her to come outside, and making a loud noise outside which the resident will come to investigate.) Having gone to the front door in response to a knock or ring and not seeing anybody there, the resident should have been immediately suspicious.  He should've closed and locked the inner door, set his alarm system, armed himself, and used his windows and video surveillance system to see if he could discover who is/was outside.  Had he done those things he would've seen the danger and called 9-1-1.  This particular resident in a prosperous, relatively low-crime part of Philadelphia (the Police Commissioner lives a couple of blocks away), almost got murdered simply because he opened his front security door to see what was going on.

3.  Hardware issue #1:  Had the first home invader gotten to the steel security door before it was closed and locked, the resident's only hope would've been a firearm he had on his body when he answered the door.  No weapons, no matter how scary or effective, stored inside the home would've done the resident any good at all with armed home invaders in his face at the front door.  He could've shot the first home invader, shut and locked the standard inner door and took cover to defend the entrance in case the other three were determined enough to disregard their shot partner and kick the door in (unlikely). Even when I'm home relaxing I have a handgun and an extra magazine on me until I take a shower or go to bed (and even then it's within reach) just because of this scenario.  My wife, however, is not that weird. wink She does have firearms instantly available to her on all the levels of our home and she knows to take one with her when she answers the door when I'm not home (she doesn't answer the door when I'm home).  On July 4th while I was working, two men came to the door.  She pocketed one of her revolvers and answered the door, interviewing the strangers through the locked steel security door.  The men said they wanted to gain entrance to upgrade our alarm system. She was very suspicious as we weren't expecting them and it was the freakin' Fourth of July.  She called me at work to confirm, and sent them packing. Then she called the alarm company to tell them about the incident.  That's how it's supposed to work, and the firearm was never displayed or fired.  It's probable that by not opening the door she prevented a home invasion and having to shoot somebody to avoid torturre, rape or murder.

4.  Hardware issue #2: In this same situation, you should be able to punch one button on your alarm system control pad near the front door and send a "panic" signal to your alarm company. (Do you know how to do this?  Will you remember in a crisis?)  This will cause your siren to start blaring and the monitoring company to call the police immediately who will respond expecting a home invasion scenario of some kind.  If that were to happen, expect gunfire and try to get on the floor or behind cover, and show your hands so the police can see you're not a bad guy. Secondly, you should also know how to use a secret code to disarm your system while sending a silent distress signal to the monitoring company.  You would use this if you were being held at gunpoint by home invaders and were ordered to shut off/disarm your security system.  Entering the secret distress code does disarm the system but it also sends a silent signal to the monitoring company that you have been forced to shut it off, and to send the police immediately.  (Do you know how to do this?  Will you remember in a crisis?)

OK: so how would this incident have gone down at your house?  Do you want to upgrade your preparations in any way?

Now might be a good time to review the content of my three previous contributions on personal safety and home defense (or read them for the first time if you're new here):




davefairtex's picture
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great video tom

It really is the scariest part to me that they didn't care about the video camera.


sand_puppy's picture
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Wearing a firearm around the house

Tom, I appreciate your description of wearing a firearm around the house.  As I think through various scenarios I have come to understand that the situation is very simple.   You either:

1.  have a firearm on you body, or,

2.  you are unarmed.

There is really no other status. 

An unloaded gun hidden in the sock drawer in the bedroom chest of drawers is absolutely useless in a moment of need.

In addition, those of us who come from gun averse cultural backgrounds have had to go through a significant psychological adjustment to being around a firearm.  Our families have to adjust too.  Wearing a concealed pistol during dinner, while washing dishes and watching a DVD helps this along.  I needed to wear the gun unloaded for a number of months during the adjustment period.

And the logistics of how the holster fits, how to keep it comfortable and how to conceal it with different clothing all take some time to work out.

If a person lives in a state where concealed carry permits are impossible to obtain, then I would especially practice wearing in my own home.

My favorite holsters for a Glock 19 (and 26) are:

1.  Outside the waistband plastic holster by Hazmat. (Outside the waistband most comfortable for all day wear, Can wear at 3:00 position, Holds the gun very securely, yet releases it easily also).  Most comfortable with suspenders as the belt doesn't need to be so snug to prevent sagging. A loose shirt worn outside the pants covers this very well.

2.  Inside the waistband by Crossbreed or AlienGear.  Inside waistband hides better, but can't wear at 3:00 position because hip cannot flex fully, needs to be worn at 4:00 position, most comfortable if standing and walking, not comfy if driving or sitting on sofa or movie theater seat,  a bit hard to pull the gun free.  I definitely need suspenders with IWB holsters.

3.  Shoulder holster "Bodyguard" for Glock 26 by Alessi Holsters.  Best when mostly sitting, driving.  Slightly hard to pull gun free (takes 2 hands).  Good for watching TV while wearing pajamas in GREAT comfort.  :-)  Must have a heavy over-shirt or jacket to hide (winter).

thc0655's picture
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pinecarr's picture
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Why the heck did the homeowner open the door after determining with his video surveillance that he did not know the men?!  He's lucky he was able to get the door closed again.

Thanks for your post, thc0655.  Always good to get reminded to reassess home security.

Trun87114's picture
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Rural response?

Tom, thank you, that was very instructive. Although we have weapons in the home, they are generally stored and not close at hand when someone approaches the house. I suppose we've been complacent in that regard.  

i wonder if you'd mind adding some advice for those of us who live rurally.  We made the "big move" 4 years ago from the city to the country. The plus side of this is that big city crimes like in the video almost never happen - probably contributing to our complacency.   The downside is that police presence is also almost non-existent.  In my case, I'm guessing 911 response at approximately 15-20 minutes.  How would your advice change, if at all, for those of use in this situation.


thc0655's picture
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Good question, Trun

Good question, Trun.  I'll work on a separate post on rural/low crime strategies for home defense so that this popular topic doesn't get lost in this thread.

gertrudesalzman's picture
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I am agree with your

I am agree with your decision.

newsbuoy's picture
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Another reason to always be weaponized...

White supremacists and other far-right extremists have killed far more people since Sept. 11, 2001, than any other category of domestic extremist.

I have LSD dispersant everywhere in the house.

MarkM's picture
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newsbuoy wrote: White
newsbuoy wrote:

White supremacists and other far-right extremists have killed far more people since Sept. 11, 2001, than any other category of domestic extremist.

I have LSD dispersant everywhere in the house.

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