Monday, June 23, 2014

Home Invasions Suck: Here's How to Make Them Suck Less

Unless you have a private security team guarding you 24/7, your personal security is your responsibility.  The police, as much as we admire them, don't have as their primary duty to protect you from harm; they're there to clean up afterwards.  Investigating after the fact doesn't help you now, when the enraged drunk who's kicking the hell out of your front door is about to break in.

But, in case your front door can withstand a couple minutes' worth of kicking, you want to make sure that emergency services get to your house sooner rather than later.  We'll leave the choice to arm yourself or not for another discussion: this one's about calling for help.

There are two types of people who will break into your house: burglars and home invaders.

  • A burglar doesn't want you there when he robs your home.  His intent is to get in and out as quickly as possible.  He doesn't steal from houses to meet people: he steals to get easily-fenced loot that he can sell to buy drugs.  You'll probably never see him steal your stuff, which is a good thing.
  • A home invader wants to interact with you.  Unlike the burglar, he picks a time when he's sure you're home to break in.  Usually, this is because he thinks you've got valuables that he wouldn't otherwise acquire from a simple smash-and-grab.  He's going to do this by doing horrible violence to you, including but not limited to rape.  This is the monster we're most worried about.

A burglar will sometimes become a home invader if you suddenly get home while he's stealing your stuff.  If he hears you come in, most of the time he'll run.  If he doesn't run, it's because he's decided that it's worth his while to interact with you.  That usually doesn't end well.

So, consider the scenario: you're at home in bed, or watching TV, or eating dinner, or all three, etc. when you hear someone trying to break into your home. You grab up your phone and take everyone into the pre-assigned safe room to call the police.  Say it's the master bedroom.  It's most likely that he's going to bust through the front door and the master bedroom door before the police get there.  Aside from dealing with the threat personally, what do you do?

Before I tell you, I must say that I am not in any way suggesting that you do anything illegal.  The remainder of this piece is written for the individual who decides to engage in illegal activity that can result in a fine or even jail time.  So don't do this if you intend to follow the law.

Let's get back to it: he's breaking down the door.  What do you do?

When you dial 911 and talk to the dispatcher, tell the dispatcher that not only is someone trying to break into your house, but he's also set fire to it and you're having a heart attack.  This will send EMTs and fire department personnel to your house, both of whom may get there sooner than the police.  They'll arrive with sirens blaring.  The home invader won't know the difference between a police siren and a fire department siren, and is more likely to be scared off.  Not only that, but it'll wake the neighborhood, bringing massive amounts of attention that the home invader doesn't want.

  • Aren't you putting the EMTs in danger?  And the fire department?  No.  They'll be told there's a dangerous felon at the address, so they'll wait in their respective vehicles until the police arrive.  
  • Aren't you taking them away from someone who really does need them?  Like someone whose house really is on fire?  Yes.  But think of it this way: it's no more moral or ethical for you to be killed by a home invader than it is to die in a fire.  You need those emergency personnel, too.  Just in a different way this time.  
  • Isn't that illegal?  Yes.  And you'll probably pay a fine.  But the alternative is much, much worse.  

Don't compromise when it comes to your personal safety.  Especially if you've got people who love and depend on you.  Do what you have to do to survive.

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