Home invasions are on the rise according to FBI, which compiles its data from crime statistics supplied by police departments across the country. The most likely reasons for the uptick? A bad economy, coupled with the fact that homes are easier targets than banks, gas stations and convenience stores. Most retail establishments have taken proactive measures like surveillance cameras and monitored alarm systems to discourage armed robbery. Far too few homeowners have followed suit, even though a monitored system (one that is wired directly to law enforcement or a security system provider) can yield homeowners insurance discounts as high as 20%.
While both are frightening intrusions, a home invasion differs from a burglary. Burglars typically work alone and target your home when you’re away. They tend to be nonviolent, unless confronted, and prefer to work quickly. The average burglar can be in and out of your home in about 7 to 10 minutes. Burglaries are more often than not crimes of opportunity. Home invasions are typically carried out by two or more people, who are frequently intent on violence; the FBI claims home invasions account for 38% or all assaults and 60% of all rapes in the U.S. They tend to target women and seniors, the most vulnerable victims.
A good security system is your first line of defense. Not only will you qualify for a homeowners insurance discount, you may also lower the odds of being targeted. FBI statistics claim that homes without monitored systems are 3 times more likely to be burglarized or robbed. And, if your home is invaded, the police will be alerted immediately without any action required on your part.
You should also exercise commonsense precautions to avoid being victimized:
- Many municipalities now have email alert programs that help you track criminal activities in your immediate vicinity. It may not specifically denote home invasions, but it wo;; probably list burglaries and robberies. Contact your local police department to see if they offer this service.
- Form a neighborhood watch group and become an active participant.
- Never open your door to any stranger, and don’t rely on peep holes, which have limited scope of vision. Install a security camera that shows you if people are lurking out of sight.
- Don’t be fooled by uniforms. Insist on seeing identity badges from people claiming to be from public utilities, delivery services, the police, etc. If you have any doubts, call 911 immediately. Better to be a little embarrassed.
- Consider installing security doors with deadbolts, security screens and iron window bars, especially if you live in an isolated or high-crime area. These passive security systems may also qualify for homeowners insurance discounts.