Today we’ll be discussing home invasion, its definition, historical analysis, jurisdictional applications in US, UK etc. and equally remedies to the offence and preventive measures.
Home invasion is an unlawful entry into another person’s home with the intention to commit an illegal act such as felony or misdemeanor. The illegal act may be a burglary, but it may also consist of other criminal acts such as homicide, rape, harassment, assassination and more. Typically, the residents of the home are present during the home invasion. Occupants of the home may also provide information to the offender regarding the location of valuables.
Home invasion can also be called hot prowl burglary. Hot prowl burglaries are considered especially dangerous by law enforcement because of the potential for a violent confrontation between the occupant and the offender.
Historical analysis of home invasion
Home invasion first recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary is an article in The Washington Post on 1 February 1912, with an article in the Los Angeles Times on 18 March 1925 clearly indicating the modern meaning.
“Home-invasion robberies” were highlighted in June 1995, when the term appeared in the cover story of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin in an article written by Police Chief James T. Hurley of the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, area, later republished on bNet, the online blog posted by Harvard Business School. Hurley posited that, at the time, the crime could be considered an alternative to bank or convince store robberies, which were becoming more difficult to carry out due to technological advances in security. In the same article, Hurley recommended educating the public about home invasion. Before the term “home invasion” came into use, the term “hot burglary” was often used in the literature. Early references also use “burglary of occupied homes” and “burglar striking an occupied residence”.
Connecticut congressman Chris Murphy proposed in 2008 making home invasion a federal crime in the United States.
Jurisdiction application in US
In some jurisdictions, there is a defined crime of home invasion; in others, there is no crime defined as home invasion, but events that accompany the invasion are charged as crimes. Where home invasion is defined, the definition and punishments vary by jurisdiction. It is not a legally defined federal offense throughout the United States, but is in several states, such as Georgia, Michigan, Connecticut, Illinois, Florida, Louisiana, and Nevada.
Home invasion laws also have been introduced in the South Carolina. General assembly and in the State of Maryland. On March 15, 2011, a bill making home invasion deaths a capital crime in New Hampshire passed the New Hampshire House without debate.
Many U.S. state (particularly those that endorse the castle doctrine) include defending oneself against forcible entry of one’s home as part of their definition of justifiable homicide without any obligation without any obligation to retreat.
Other legal systems
Home invasion as such is not defined as a crime in most countries other than US, with offenders being charged according to the actual crimes committed once inside the building, such as armed robbery, rape or murder.
In English law, offender who commit burglary while carrying a weapon can be convicted of the offence of aggravated burglary even if the weapon is not actually brandish or used.
Canada, Section 348 of the Criminal Code provides that home invasion can be considered an aggravating circumstance in cases of
- Breaking and entering to steal firearm
- forcible confinement
- break-and-enter with intent
Distinguished examples of home invasion
The Lindbergh kidnapping – In 1932, one-year old Charlse Augustus Lindburgh, Jr. was kidnapped from his family’s home in East Amwell, New Jersey and later murdered. The offender perpetrated the crime by using a ladder to enter a second floor bedroom of the Lindbergh residence while the family was asleep.
The Chauffeurs de la Drome (The Heaters of Drome) were a gang of four men who carried out a series of attacks on remote dwellings in the Department of Drome in South-West France between 1905 and 1908. They became notorious for roasting the feet of householders against the fireplace, to torture them into revealing the hiding places of valuables. Responsible for as many as 18 murders, three of the gang were executed on September 22, 1909. The fourth died on the penal colony on Devil’s Island.
One well-known home invasion is the November 15, 1959, quadruple murder of the Clutter family by Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Edward Smith during a home-invasion robbery in rural Holcomb, kansas. The murders were detailed in Truman Capote’s “nonfiction novel” in Cold Blood. However, the perpetrators were convicted of murder, not home invasion.
The BTK killer – Between 1974 and 1991, a series of sexual assaults and murders was carried out in the Wichita, Kansas area. In most of the attacks, the offender broke into or forced his way into a residence, then killed one or more people.
The Golden State Killer – A serial hitman and rapist who was active in California in the 1970s and 1980s, who is known to have murdered ten people between 1979 and 1986. His modus operandi was to break into the homes of his victims in the middle of the night and attack them as they slept.
The Night Stalker – A series of home invasion murders, rapes, and robberies plagued the Los Angeles, California area in the mid-1980s. In all, twelve murders were committed in Southern California as part of this series.
Mr Cruel – An Australian pedophiliac serial rapist who entered houses and attacked three girls in the northern and eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Wichita massacre – brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr entered a house in December 2000, robbed the five residents, forced them into sex with each other and the attackers and then drove them to a snowy soccer field to be shot execution-style. One woman survived and testified against them in court, where they were given the death penalty.
Two paroled criminals were each charged with three counts of capital murder during a home invasion into the petit family in Cheshire, Connecticut, on July 23, 2007. During the invasion, the mother died of asphyxiation due to strangulation and the two daughters died of smoke inhalation after the suspects set the house on fire. The men were charged with first-degree sexual assault, murder of a kidnapped person, and murder of two people at the same time. The states attorney sought the death penalty against the suspects. The first defendant, Steven Hayes, was found guilty of 16 of 17 counts including capital murder on October 5, 2010, and on November 8, 2010, was sentenced to death. His co-defendant, Joshua komisarjevsky, was convicted of all 17 counts against him in October 2011, and was sentenced to death. Both men later had their sentences commuted to life without parole when Connecticut abolished the death penalty in 2015.
Another home invasion occurred on November 26, 2007, when Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor was murdered during an overnight home invasion of his suburban Miami home. Four defendants were charged with this crime.
How to prevent home invasions
Break-ins can occur at any time to anyone in any neighborhood. The highest percentage of break-ins happen in the summer, while people are away on vacation, or begin to leave their windows and doors open more often.
Most burglars rely on hiding, speed and force to gain entry to a home. A home security system is an effective deterrent, and an approved burglar or fire alarm can save you money on your home insurance.
Unfortunately, a home security system isn’t a guarantee your home won’t be a target. Here are tips you can use to help protect your home from burglary:
- Lock your windows and doors at all times; even when you leave briefly, are outside on your property, or inside your home. Also, keep your valuables in a safe or lockbox when you go out.
- Change passcodes on electronic locks and garage doors from time to time.
- Keep your windows covered and your garage locked so valuable items are out of sight.
- Install motion sensor lights, deadbolt locks and upgrade patio/sliding glass door locks.
- Trim shrubs and bushes to eliminate hiding spots, and never hide keys outside.
- Don’t announce your vacation or trips on social media
- If you go away fro an extended period, use these tips for giving your home a lived-in look.
- Always change the locks when you move into a new home, condo or apartment, or if your keys are lost or stolen.
- Opportunistic criminals commonly target unlocked cars. Don’t leave anything valuable in your car and always lock the doors.
- If you live in an apartment or condo building, close the door behind you when entering or exiting the building. report any security concerns, such as dim lighting around entrances or points of easy access, to your property manager.
If you come and notice your home has been broken into or sense suspicious activity on your property, don’t go in. Call 911 and wait for the police to arrive.
Plan ahead of a possible home claim by keeping an updated inventory of your belongings. It will help the police identify your items if they’re recovered and help make the claims process easier.
Under condominium or tenant insurance, the alarm must be inside the unit to qualify.