Home invasion: even the name sounds intimidating. Unlike a home robbery, which generally takes place when a property is empty, the Canada Safety Council (CSC) defines a home invasion as “a premeditated confrontation in the victim’s home with the intent to rob and/or inflict violence.”
Robberies can also turn into home invasions if the thief unexpectedly finds someone at home during a robbery or if the homeowners return while a robbery is in progress and a confrontation takes place.
If you think a home invasion sounds unpleasant, you’re right. As the Canada Safety Council notes, “The impact of home invasion extends beyond the violence of the crime itself; it is particularly frightening because it has a predatory nature and violates the one place that we feel safe: our home.”
However, there is no need for you to live in fear of confronting a robber. Homeowners can take a number of precautions to ensure that their homes and neighbourhoods are as safe as possible.
Home Invasion Techniques – How Do Home Invaders Operate?
One key to preventing home invasions is to avoid opening your door to strangers. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics estimates that 68 per cent of home invasions are committed by strangers. Ensure that you can see who is at your door by installing a one-way peephole, a camera or a window that gives you a discreet view of the front door.
Don’t open your door to people you don’t know, say the CSC experts, no matter how friendly and nice they seem. You are easing the path of an invader if you willingly offer them entry into your home.
There are many ruses that people with ulterior motives use to try to gain entry to homes. For example: their car has broken down nearby; they have rear-ended your vehicle and want to discuss it; they have a parcel for you to sign for, or they are offering you an amazing savings on electricity through their company.
There are dozens of reasonable-sounding explanations for wanting to enter your home, but once you open the door, the intruders can easily smash their way inside.
Make it clear that you don’t open your home to strangers. You can refuse entry to these unknowns without denying them help. If there are car issues, offer to phone a garage for them.
If they claim to represent a company, check the phone number and call to see if they employ a particular representative and if he/she is calling on customers in your neighborhood. If they badger you, you should not hesitate to call 9-1-1.
How to Avoid a Home Invasion
In addition, make your home as burglar-proof as possible; if invaders can’t gain entry easily, they generally try to break down a door. Instal solid wood doors, reinforce your doors and doorframes and to use sliding door bars and deadbolt locks.
Be sure your windows are double-paned, laminated glass, and cover them with security film or put Plexiglas behind each window. These durable materials can withstand several blows before breaking.
Also, get in the habit of locking the garage, windows, and doors unless you are using them. Why give someone an easy entry path? Each night before bedtime, do a quick check of all doors and windows to ensure that they are locked.
Stop Home Invasions Before they Happen
Lighting is another deterrent to home invaders. No thief wants to be seen. Ensure the exterior of your home is properly lit; motion sensing lights are a wonderful invention for this purpose.
Getting to know your neighbours and neighbourhood is another way to prevent crime. If you are all looking out for each other, it is less likely someone will be able to take advantage of you.
This includes being aware of the cars that park regularly in the local area and knowing your neighbors’ routines. Be on guard if you see unusual faces appearing regularly in the area without any obvious motive. Criminals often scout their territory weeks in advance.
When Home Invasions Happen
If, despite all precautions, you become a victim, the CSC advises you to stay calm. Your actions will depend upon the circumstances and the threat to your loved ones. Give the invader the items that he or she wants: it is not worth being injured over a piece of property or a wad of cash.
Flee the scene and/or call 9-1-1 if you can. Meanwhile, mentally take note of all the details about the invader that you can, using your hearing, vision, and sense of smell to record information that might be useful to the police.
Don’t be fearful; home invasions actually account for a small percentage of all robberies reported to the police. However, it doesn’t hurt to cut the odds of becoming a victim by being prepared.