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Sunday Mornings with Rania: A Look at the Home Invasion on Del Monte

All we do is read about criminal activity in Houston and the surrounding areas and study how to stop it. Case after case pours in . . . each is tragic but some hit you harder than others. That was the case this past week when we learned about the horrifying home invasion in the Del Monte area.

I can’t help but play and replay the scene in my head: dad, mom, kids and (possibly) nanny are home. Surveillance video indicates the time of approximately 8:36:53 p.m. Surveillance video shows a man approach the home with a package and dressed in a UPS uniform. He rings the bell, the door opens and you see him fight his way into the home. The video shows three other men follow – each with a weapon, one it seems with an empty backpack.

I pause to think of the immediate horror and fear this family must have felt, especially the mother who ran to take her kids to safety, locking them in a closet or room, calling 911, knowing in the back of her mind all the different possible scenarios that might play out. While the father was badly beaten, thankfully, the entire family is alive and the mother and children were untouched. The criminals in this case got away with jewelry and collectible firearms in a four-door car. Crime Stoppers is asking the public to call 713-222-TIPS {8477} with any information.

So what do these types of cases mean for you and me? No matter where you live or who is home, you can be at risk for a home invasion. Here is what you must know now.

Delivery service companies: In this case, the criminal dressed like a UPS driver; regardless, ask yourself these things before opening the door:

  • Is this normal delivery hours?
  • Is the delivery man dressed in a legitimate uniform? Take a moment to review what these look like by doing a simple search.
  • Are you expecting a package? This time of year, that is questionable, as someone might be sending you a gift – criminals use that exact point against you.
  • Do you recognize the delivery person? Normally, these companies have routes with the same people working them; you should, after a while, recognize your delivery person.
  • Do you see a legitimate, marked UPS / Fedex, etc. car nearby?
  • Regardless of all of these facts, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR FOR A DELIVERY.

Law enforcement:

When law enforcement rings your doorbell, you may feel the need to always answer. That said, it is okay to ask why they are there unannounced. It is also okay to not let them in. Remember, while I am a huge supporter of law enforcement, at the end of the day they must have a warrant or a reason to enter your home uninvited. And a true law enforcement person knows this.

  • Bottom line – never, ever open your door for someone unknown. While I hate to say this, think: is the person on the other side of this door a criminal trying to trick me and gain entry into my home?
  • Keep your home alarm on even when you are home.
  • Listen for activity outside your home.
  • If you see suspicious people or a suspicious vehicle in your neighborhood or near your home, call police immediately. Get a photo and start gathering information; call neighbors if you can and alert them as well.
  • Make sure your home is equipped with video and other technology that can be used to help you build your case and alert would-be criminals that they are being recorded. Sadly, this doesn’t necessarily deter their activity but it will help Crime Stoppers and law enforcement find them after the fact and prevent them from doing this to others.

If you find yourself in a home invasion:

  • In the beginning, fight. This is unlike other scenarios. If you are approached for your purse while you are running errands, the first thing I would say is DO NOT FIGHT – give them whatever they want and get away from the criminal at hand. A home invasion is totally different. These criminals know you are home and are prepared to do whatever they must to get to your things. They are going in with the intention of fighting the home owners and will use restraints or other means to fight you. If you have a gun and know how to use it properly, you have every legal right to shoot to protect yourself, family and home. To quote law enforcement, in these cases, “shoot to kill.” I can’t say I disagree.
  • Have a hiding place for the family and/or an exit plan already in place. What this really means is that we want families to discuss (at least the parents) what to do in a home invasion. It’s a horrible conversation but no different than what to do in a fire. A scenario might be if criminals gain entry through the front, mom and kids run to the cars in the garage and drive away from the scene. A home invasion criminal assumes you are shocked and unprepared and therefore they have the upper hand. If you map out possible scenarios as a family and run through this awful possibility in your head, you’ll be a few steps ahead.
  • Call 911 immediately.
  • If you find that you are retrained and they are in your home, the option for fighting is no longer there, give them whatever they ask. Do everything you can to get them out of your home as quickly as possible.

There is nothing worse than having your home, your most personal and comfortable space in the world, targeted and violated by terrible criminals. But just like everything else, a game plan and strategy could help prevent your home from ever being targeted or could help you and your family in case you were ever victimized.

Right now, our greatest hope is that someone will call Crime Stoppers with information on the men in the Del Monte case. Our hearts and thoughts are with the entire family.

Posted by Rania Mankarious on 4 Dec 2016

About the author

Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston