Two simple words that conjure up visions of violence, violation—and the concepts of preparation to prevent being the victim of this act.
There are three major aspects to consider as regards this potential situation: (1) the basic “My car broke down, could I use your phone?” garden-variety slugs, (2) law enforcement impersonators, and (3) genuine law enforcement personnel who have either incorrectly hit the wrong address or have been—in this day and time—ordered to violate both the Fourth Amendment and ignore your rights by the use of physical force.
In the first scenario, anybody who allows free access to the internal area of their domicile to strangers has the IQ of rocking horse feces. In 2013 America, we are unfortunately living in a society of “nice guys finish last,” which means you don’t allow access to anybody except a naked child covered in blood—and you’d better make sure it’s real blood and real wounds (and also look for adults who are using the urchin as “bait” to achieve their nefarious objective). Crooks know every trick in the book, and they will stoop to any level to win.
You don’t open the door for the plumber, gas man, or electrician you didn’t summon. You don’t fall for the trio of scantily clad pretty teenagers with razor blades under their tongues, and you don’t fall for the sartorially elegant young man who’s asking to speak with your non-existent daughter.
Trust nobody. It’s okay to be rude—after all, everybody else is, on a daily basis. And it’s better to be considered rude than dead. You can always apologize at a later date if you’re still sucking oxygen.
If it is, indeed, an unexpected maintenance person from a gas or telephone company, he’d better have a business card or some other form of ID that he can slip under the door—and don’t stand in the line of fire behind the door when you retrieve his physical identification.
Then call the maintenance man’s office and verify that he’s supposed to be there. And don’t stick your beady little eye behind the spy hole you cunningly fitted to the entrance door. When it visually darkens to someone standing outside, you may get a bullet through the brain.
Yes, you need visual identification of anybody who is physically present on your curtilage. Once you can see who’s there, you can then—and only then—make decisions on further action. This may mean installing closed-circuit cameras, which are not expensive, even with Infrared capability. As Sun Tzu wrote, you have to “shape” your enemy in advance—not after he/they have gained ingress to your domicile. If you can do this, you are not forcing yourself into a reactionary physical-force situation once the predators have gained entry.
This also takes care of the law enforcement impersonators yelling on your front porch. No ID, no Open Sesame. Call the genuine police if you have time, explain your situation, and ask dispatch for (hopefully) a quick response. “Hopefully,” because they have one or two other itty-bitty little problems to deal with, and by law they don’t have to respond to your call. However, manpower permitting, they will usually give an active home invasion call priority—if they can.
Scenario number three is the worst-case nightmare—and it’s happened multiple times. SWAT pitches up at the incorrect house and breaches the door. Awakened from your slumber by yells of “Police, search warrant” and confronted by shadowy figures and guns, in your half-comatose state you’re not sure if they’re genuine or fake—so you start shooting.
What’s the end result?
You die, that’s what.
What do you do about it? You win the lottery, buy an island in international waters, and ring it with Claymores. Failing that, keep your nose clean, abide by the laws of the land, and hope you’re not one of the mistaken ID/mistaken address brigade. Otherwise you’re going to be a two-time loser, plain and simple.
To paraphrase Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven, the good guys always lose. Fortune used to favor the brave. In 2013 America, it favors the crooks.
In summation, the best you can do is control the outcome of the “generic” home-invasion happenstance. This means you have to be aware that people are currently present and possibly poised to invade your castle, and you have to be in a position of control where you can visually identify all members of the potential invasion squad.
Anybody can buy fake utility service uniforms or fake magnetic signboards for a “maintenance service” van. Even genuine stolen law enforcement uniforms and badges are available on the black market.
On that note, full visual recognition of potential criminals is vital, be it on a video screen, a decorative convex mirror, or through an innocuous pin-prick hole in a Venetian blind or curtain.
For example, a clue could be gleaned from the fact that the three “fully uniformed” police officers standing on your porch all have their hind paws wrapped in multi-colored Nike basketball shoes—not visible through the average door-mounted spyhole.
If it looks like a penguin and walks like a penguin, it’s probably not a nun…
And last but not least, home invasions don’t always start at the front door to your abode. If you’re dog-paddling in the family pool, make sure you have advance line-of-sight warning on any backyard invaders.
Knock, knock. Who’s there?