Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Home Invasions on the Rise

Knowledge is both power and prevention, and the best way to protect yourself from the threat of home invasion is to know everything there is to know about it.

This post aims to educate you on home invasions – when, why, and how they happen – and inform you of the preventative measures you can take to keep your home safe.

Home invasions are different than your usual break-and-enter burglary. Per Wikipedia :
Home invasion differs from burglary in having a violent intent, specific or general, much the same way as aggravated robbery - personally taking from someone by force - is differentiated from mere larceny (theft alone).
Some states, Louisiana included, have addressed the epidemic by defining home invasion as a specific kind of crime, differentiating it from some types of burglary or robbery; per Louisiana RS 14:62.8 Home Invasion:
Home invasion is the unauthorized entering of any inhabited dwelling, or other structure belonging to another and used in whole or in part as a home or place of abode by a person, where a person is present, with the intent to use force or violence upon the person of another or to vandalize, deface, or damage the property of another.
In other words, a home invasion happens when a person is in the house that is being broken into. For this reason – the direct contact with a perpetrator – home invasions are one of the most terrifying and dangerous types of property crimes.

On The Rise

According to Sentinel Security Group, who compiled statistics from the FBI per the NCVS (National Victimization Data Survey) and UCS (Uniform Crime Reports):

  • 38% of all assaults occur during a home invasion
  • 60% of all rapes occur during a home invasion

Security expert, Jordan Frankel – also known as The Security Sensei  – of Global Security Experts says  that 1 out of every 5 homes will encounter a violent home intrusion or burglary. He believes a rise in home invasions are a result of increased security measures – such as security cameras and monitored alarm systems – becoming the norm rather than the exception in previous commercial targets. Per Frankel:
Due to the increased security of commercial businesses, houses and apartments are considered much easier targets by criminals. Home invaders also know that many homeowners and renters still don't have alarm systems. In fact, it's the home without security devices that they look for when deciding on their next target.
Don't Think It Can't Happen to You

Doing a quick Google News search for "home invasion" will turn up dozens of recent reports, some just a couple of hours old, about home invasions that have happened all over the country.

Home invasions can happen anywhere and to anyone – from a father of five, killed in a Rock Hill, NC home invasion to a Hollywood actor in Los Angeles, CA, who confronted an intruder in his home after returning from the SAG awards. Here locally and just three days ago, a man in Ponchatoula shot a man he found burglarizing his home after the burglar pulled a gun on him.

No one is immune to a home invasion. In fact, the FBI states 13% of all homes are burglarized every year, and 85% of those are through the front door.

An intruder doesn't just have to force his way in. There are far too many horror stories of victims who were overtaken in their homes by the simple act of opening the door to a stranger – one who needs to supposedly use the phone or is dressed as maintenance or delivery person or even a police officer. In their article on home invasions, the Professor's House blog gives these tips for what to do when you hear a knock on the door:
  • Always check to see who is there before you answer the door.
  • Always respond so the person knows someone is home.
  • Do not open the door to anyone you do not know. Remember, you do not have to open the door to anyone.
  • Ask for identification. Once you have seen it, ask for secondary identification such as a telephone number that you can call to verify the person's status.
  • Pretend there are other people in the house by calling out someone's name. Keep your radio or television on.
  • If you see any suspicious persons, activities, or vehicles in your area, do not be afraid to call 911.
The Security Sensei notes that "it's the home without security devices that they look for when deciding on their next target", so naturally the best protection you can have is a security system  - especially one installed and monitored by a professional company. Even if the intruder does get inside and tells you to disarm the alarm, you can – instead – type in a duress code that will immediately notify the authorities that you are in danger.

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