Home Invasions may be the scariest of all crimes for a person to face, not just because they may lose precious valuables in their home, but because the robbers want you to be home when they break in.
Unlike residential burglars, who work mostly during the day when a home is more likely to be unoccupied, home invasion robbers work mostly at night and on weekends. And the crime is growing across the nation.
“I do know that across the nation, home invasions have increased,” Sgt. Dwayne LaGrange, of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, said. “Not that we’ve had a huge problem here, but we need to educate people to be alert.”
The parish has had two such crimes recently, both of which were dangerous. In the most recent crime, a 45-year-old Boutte woman was hit with a weapon several times after men broke into her home while her husband was sleeping.
Three men were arrested shortly after that crime.
In the other home invasion, a 13-year-old St. Rose boy was kidnapped after four men broke into his home and threatened his father in their search for money.
The boy was driven to New Orleans, where he was picked up by police officers and returned to his father.
Home invaders target an individual person just as much as they do the home in which they live. Targets usually include women living alone, wealthy senior citizens or known drug dealers.
“We’ve seen a couple that deal with drug dealers and I have heard some stories from other law enforcement agents across the state,” Sgt. LaGrange said. “One drug dealer wants to be on top and he also figures that the other drug dealer may have valuables. However, there are always consequences because they can be caught by surprise and possibly shot or injured.”
It is also not uncommon for a robber to follow a person home based on the value of the car they’re driving or the jewelry they’re wearing. Some home invaders might even have been in their targets home before making deliveries or repairs.
“They tend to target places that have poor lighting and usually have a lot of traffic going in and out of the home with a lot of vehicles,” LaGrange said. “They also could target a person that likes to show off their valuables or talk about what they have at home.
“The next thing they know, that person is the victim of a home invasion.”
And as scary as home invasions are, the real worry is that they are increasing across the nation. This is because the traditional commercial targets for robbers, such as convenience stores and fast-food restaurants, have taken big steps to prevent criminal attack, while at the same time reducing the amount of cash they have on hand.
“We have asked all local businesses to be more aware and to not keep a lot of money on hand,” LaGrange said. “But both people and businesses need to be more aware. We want people to make sure that their property is well lit and that they have neighborhood watch programs.
“If they see something suspicious, they need to call us because that is what we are here for.”
People may not want to call in something suspicious for fear of seeming paranoid, but it can help prevent dangerous men from entering your home.
“People who commit home invasions tend to work in a group,” LaGrange said. “They are also typically people that are using drugs and will go to whatever level they need to feed their habit.”
Home invaders usually work in groups for the intimidation factor, and also so that one person can hold the victim hostage while another ransacks the house.
Along with calling in suspicious activity, LaGrange says that it is also important for people to install home alarm systems.
“I think the safest thing is being aware and installing a home burglary alarm,” he said. “They are a lot less expensive now than they were in the past and we respond quickly when they go off.”
LaGrange says that besides being beneficial for a resident when they aren’t at home, the alarms also have a panic button that could help if some stranger enters the home when they are there.