Home invasion is one of the most frightening and potentially deadly crimes that can happen to a woman or any individual or family.  Home invasion is the forced entry into an occupied residence to commit robbery or other crimes.  It is especially frightening because it violates our home and our personal space.  In addition, if someone survives such a catastrophic crisis, they often experience stress reactions for years.  Unfortunately, many home invasions may end in assault, rape and murder.

In contrast to burglaries, home invasion occurs more often at night or weekends when we are more likely to be home.  Home invasion targets the resident, as well as the dwelling.  Targets of home invasion robberies can include a woman living alone, a wealthy senior citizen or anyone else simply because of the value of the car they drive or the jewelry they are wearing.  Robbers rarely work alone and rely on surprise and overwhelming physical force to gain control and instill fear.  The greatest violence usually occurs in the first minute of the assault, and they come equipped with handcuffs, rope, duct tape, knives and firepower.

Home invaders know that most people, even if they have a security system, do not arm them while they are home and most homeowners do not have video cameras, silent alarms or panic buttons.  So, unlike robbing a business, home invaders expect privacy once inside our home and know they won’t have to deal with the police suddenly driving up or customers walking in.

The most common point of attack is through the front door or garage.  Occasionally they will simply kick open the door and confront everyone inside.  More commonly though, the home invader knocks on the door first or rings the doorbell.  They know that many of us will simply open the door, without question, in response to their knock.

Home invaders will sometimes use tricks to get us to open the door. They pretend to be a delivering person or tell us they accidently hit our car.  Some home invaders may have been in our home before, such as a delivery person, installation technician or service person.  Others use children, pretending to be selling something for school to get us to open the door.  Once the door is opened, they will use an explosive amount of force and threats to gain control and instill fear in the occupants.  Once things are under control, the robbers will begin to collect our valuables.

Some home robbers spend hours searching and destroying a residence while the homeowners are bound nearby, watching in shear terror.  Some robbers have eaten meals, watched TV, and even take a nap.  The major fear, especially with women, is that the robbers will commit even more violence, like sexual assault, rape or murder.  Some victims have been kidnapped, forced to withdraw cash from their ATM machine or taken to their business to rob it as well.

The same precautions used to prevent daytime burglaries go a long way to preventing home invasions.  If a home invader can be slowed at the point of entry, we have a chance of deterring them from entering or having enough time to call the police.  All exterior entry points should have solid core doors with strong deadbolt locks and have reinforced strike plates.  Windows should be closed and locked also.

The weakest links in home security are the people who fail to lock doors and windows, open the door without question and who do not use their alarm system.  The best prevention is knowledge and planning.  Have a security system installed, have a plan if the unthinkable happens, get your family together and discuss the importance of security and how to answer the door when someone knocks, especially with young children.   While a woman living alone is especially vulnerable to this serious safety threat, everyone should take care to protect themselves.