Home Invasions: Burglary vs. Robbery

Did you know there are approximately 8,000 home invasions every day? That means 1 in 5 homeowners can expect to experience some type of home invasion.

They now account for 1 in 4 robberies, since the traditional targets like gas stations and convenience stores have implemented technological advances in security.

Why? Well you see, commercial establishments can typically install inexpensive video surveillance systems, silent alarms, and other anti-crime deterrent devices. So they’re not the easy targets they once were.

And since most criminals will follow the path of least resistance, they will often seek a “softer” target. A residence, by comparison, is now a more attractive choice.

That’s why learning how to survive a home invasion is essential… because the stakes are high.

But first, let’s break down the different types of home invasion:


Occur mostly during the day and when a residence is more likely to be unoccupied. Most burglars act alone and tend to probe a neighborhood looking for the right residence and the right time.

Prevention: The goal is to steal something of value with the greatest of ease. Alarm signs and decals, bars on windows, strong locks and doors, big dogs, and alert neighbors can sometimes deter burglars.

Also, burglars will avoid a confrontation and will usually flee when approached. Most burglaries do not result in violence unless the criminal is cornered and uses force to escape.

If you encounter a burglar in your home you should perform an immediate threat assessment.

  • Why are they here / what do they want?
  • What is their condition?
  • Determine the best result

Again, if it’s a standard burglary they are alone and simply want to steal something of value. The intruder will be very unpredictable and is dealing with his own “fight or flight” response. Attempt to de-escalate the situation.

The best outcome in most cases is to let them go. I don’t condone giving criminals a pass but think about these factors:

  • Do you have kids, a spouse, or others you care about in the house which could be in danger if this escalates?
  • Is it worth potentially getting injured by them?
  • And is the above worth a few bucks?


In contrast, robberies occur more often at night and on weekends when homes are more likely to be occupied. The home invader will sometimes target the resident as well as the dwelling.

The selection process may include a woman living alone, a wealthy senior citizen or a known drug dealer, for example. It is not unheard of for a robber to follow you home based on the value of the car you are driving or the jewelry you are wearing.

Some home invaders might have been in your home before as a delivery person, installer or repair vendor. They rarely act alone and rely on an overwhelming physical confrontation to gain initial control and instill fear in you.

The greatest violence usually occurs during the initial 60 seconds of the confrontation and home invaders often come prepared with handcuffs, rope, duct tape, and firearms.

Some in-home robbers appear to enjoy the intimidation, domination, and violence and some even say it’s a “rush.”

Now this is not to scare you, the point of this article is to educate and prepare you for whatever emergency situation comes your way. Knowledge is key.

“Special Deliveries”

In homes, attackers prefer the easiest way in and the most common point of attack is through the front door or garage. Sometimes the home invader will simply kick open the door and confront everyone inside.

More common is when the home invaders knock on the door first or ring the bell. They hope that the occupant will simply open the door, without question, in response to their knock. Unfortunately, many people do just that.

Home invaders will sometimes use a ruse or impersonation to get you to open the door. They have been known to pretend to be delivering a package or flowers, or lie about an accident, like hitting your parked car.

Once the door is opened for them, the home invaders will use an explosive amount of force and threats to gain control of the home and create fear in the victims. Once the occupants are under control, the robbers will begin to collect your valuables.

Your Response

You hear an unfamiliar sound or obvious forced entry.

  • Immediately call 9-1-1 and report “Someone is in my house, send help.” If you can, use a landline because your address will instantly appear on the dispatcher’s display. Maintain the connection with the dispatcher until help arrives even if you have to put the phone down.
  • Assess the Situation –

    Am I alone or do I have loved ones in the home?
    “Fight or Flight”… should I simply leave now or investigate?
    Do I have the ability to fight off one or more intruders?

  • If you are going to investigate get something you can use as a weapon. And grab a device that can produce a loud sound to ward off the potential threat.
  • When investigating, methodically move from room to room making as much noise as possible. Mention that the police are coming and you are armed.

In Special Operations we use CQC (Close Quarters Combat) to clear a house. It is methodically done at a very fast pace. Dynamically (aggressively) enter each room and immediately sweep from the far-left corner all the way over to the far-right corner.

If you ever find yourself face-to-face with your intruder, again perform a threat assessment with the key question being – Can I successfully defeat my opponent?

If you decide to strike a blow, do it fast, directing your force to the throat. However, if you see three, four, or five assaulters entering, it might be better to hold back. Striking out will get you injured, or worse.

Remember Violence of Action, hold nothing back.

Be a survivor… not a statistic,

Cade Courtley
Former Navy SEAL / 4Patriots Contributor

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