Home Invasions-Fact vs. Fiction

Thursday, April 24th 2008, 8:05 pm
By: News On 6

Whenever people stop me at the grocery store or on the street, they want to know about the home invasions they keep hearing about on the news. It seems like there's a lot more of them lately and they are very scary crimes that make people feel vulnerable and helpless.

A home invasion is where someone kicks in your door and holds everyone at gunpoint while they search for valuables.

Here's what people should know about home invasions... they very rarely happen to random, totally innocent victims.  That is not a crime that is likely to happen to people like you and me, leading law abiding lives.

The vast majority of the times, if you hear about a home invasion,  the victims and suspects knew each other or about each other or had some previous relationship or some other crime, like drug dealing, is involved... even if we don't say so on the news.

It's very rare to have a totally random home invasion. However, Tulsa did have one recently near 22nd and South Lewis. Police say the victims and suspects did not know each other and there was no other crime going on behind the scenes. It was a terrifying ordeal for the family, who had small children home at the time. It lasted a long time, approximately 45 minutes and it's a wonder no one was hurt. The fact no one was is indeed a blessing.

These robbers had knocked on the family's door two days earlier, claiming they were tree trimmers who had done work for the family before. The woman told them they had not and told them to leave. She then saw them go to her neighbor's house, toward their back door.

I would encourage you, if you have an odd experience like that with someone at your door, call police and report it. Tell them a suspicious person is knocking on doors, claiming to be tree trimmers and give 911 the best description you can. Officers can come out and do what's called an F.I. or field interview, where they write down the person's name, description, car, tag number, etc. Then, if a problem or crime arises later, they have all that information on file.

I also think it's a good idea to look at the lay-out of your home. If someone bursts through your front door, what would you do? Can you go out a backdoor?  Would you have to use a window as an escape? If the answer is no to both, do you have one room that locks? A safe room, bedroom, bathroom or closet? Getting in there with a cordless phone could buy you a little bit of time.

Take a moment to look around your house to see what "weapons" are on hand. What is sitting around that you could throw at someone to either hurt them or distract them long enough to get away. That could be a heavy candlestick, crystal bowl, baseball bat, etc. I also think having pepper spray inside your home is a good option (better than using it outside when the wind can blow it back in your face.)

Make sure you turn on the alarm systems when you're home. Many people do it only when they leave.  Anything that makes noise buys you time or gives the criminal pause, is a good thing.

The bottom line in a situation like a home invasion, is survive the encounter. Survival is victory and that's all that matters. I have interviewed people who managed to survive in very different ways. I had a woman who prayed out loud, at the top of her lungs, when a man who'd broken in, held a gun to her head. It worked for her, because he became unnerved and left. I had a woman who did exactly what the criminal said and by doing so, saved her life and the life of her daughter. I interviewed a person who fought like a wild cat and that allowed her to survive.  Only you will know what the right thing to do in that moment is.  Again, random home invasions are rare, but, one in a community is way too many.