Preventing A Home Invasion: Your Front Door
How to keep criminals from charming their way into your home.
If you scroll the internet in the places that I do, you’ll find video after video of people trying to break into a home through the front door. I’ve covered this topic before, but I’m seeing so much of this footage that we need to address it again.
I understand that video doorbells have increased in popularity and that crime has also gone up, so that leads to more videos of break-ins. And while these videos are scary, we can learn from them. So let’s push past our fear for a greater understanding.
While it seems counterintuitive, the front door is still the most common way bad guys get into your home.
But it makes sense in the fact that the front door is made for quick, easy access to your home. Why break a window, climb to the second floor, or dig a tunnel under your home when all they can do is break through the front door? And why break through the front door when you can charm someone into opening it up for you?
Someone Cased My Home
Sometime in the last few years, I was at home by myself. I’m not sure if it was my day off or I was sick, or what. But I was at home on a weekday morning. The doorbell rang when I wasn’t expecting anyone.
As I approached the front door, I could hear someone try the handle on my storm door. This immediately waved a red flag for me. Knowing that the storm door was locked I decided to open the door to talk to whoever was on my porch.
Note that I didn’t have a security camera there at that time, so I looked through the peephole to see what was going on. When I opened the door I saw a man turning away to leave. There was also a sedan stopped on the street at my mailbox.
The man waved his hand and said he was at the wrong house and that I wasn’t the friend he was looking for. And he walked off of my porch as I closed the door. The whole thing was weird.
Why did the guy come to my home? Why did he try to open my storm door? Why was he turning to leave as I answered the door? There wasn’t enough time to see my face to know I wasn’t the friend he was looking for.
What just happened?
While I can’t say for 100% certain, I believe this may be intelligence gathering to see if someone was home. I believe he was casing my home for a mid-morning break-in. He left because he now knew I was home and he didn’t want to deal with a confrontation with me.
Red Flag Behavior
So let’s talk about the thing that raised a red flag for me in this situation. I want you to know this because it may be the thing that sets off your internal alarm, too.
What got me on the defensive was the man ringing the doorbell and then trying the handle on my storm door. Why is he trying to remove that barrier before I open the door? The short answer is that he wanted access to my home and he wanted it fast.
The majority of service workers who will come to your door are trained to make contact with you. HVAC technicians, utility workers, and carpet cleaners all are trained to knock on the door and then move back. They create distance between themselves and the door. They know that if they stay at the door it will make people defensive. They also run the risk of being shot if they don’t. So it works both ways.
Be very wary of a person who tries to open your storm door or doesn't back away from your front door after they ring the bell. I wouldn't open the door for that person. Either yell at them through the door or use your video camera to talk to them and see what their story is. Do not blindly open the door for that person.
Deadly Home Invasion
Back in 2020 in Illinois, two men posed as workers to enter a home that was occupied by a family. In this case, the Ring Doorbell footage showed two important details as to the intent of these men to rob the home.
The person who made contact opens the storm door, tries the doorknob, and then he knocks. No legitimate employee of any company will try to do that.
When the homeowner engaged the men through the Ring doorbell, the first attacker stood in the doorway with the storm door resting on his back. He set himself up to have quick access to the home and to give the second attacker easy access inside as well. I’m not sure what the conversation was between the men and the homeowner, but they are let inside.
After that, there was a chaotic scene where the homeowner shot and killed one of the suspects. The other suspect was caught a short time later. The whole thing took about a minute to unfold.
Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
A common tactic that criminals use is to look like a legitimate person who has a real reason to be at your door. Recently, Ring Doorbell footage from California made headlines when a young man posed as a candy salesman to get a homeowner to open their door.
In the clip we see the young man go through a sales pitch and even get cash from the homeowner when several men rush the front door and take control of the home. In this attack, the person who got the homeowner to open the door wasn’t the one who rushed in first. It was a blitz attack from a surprise location that got the homeowner.
Criminals want to use the element of surprise to overwhelm you quickly so that you can’t respond to protect yourself. So even if the person who makes contact with you looks nice, they could be a distraction from the real attackers.
And I want you to remember this, you don’t have to open your door to anyone. No one has the right to be in your house. And don’t worry about being polite, either. I’ve said this before, politeness can get you killed. Unless the cops have a warrant to search your home, you can turn away anyone.
My Point In Action
Call this Murphy’s Law or irony because as I was writing this show, someone dressed as a utility worker came to my front door. So I’ll share with you exactly what I did. Obviously, this was not my plan, it just worked out that way. Let’s call it a God thing.
I heard a knock at the front door and then my dogs went nuts like they normally do. Dogs are very helpful in that way. Next, I opened up my security camera app to see who was there.
I couldn’t see anyone, but they had backed away from my door and down the steps and I could see their shadow on camera. Knowing they had backed up and that my storm door was locked, I decided to open my door. Also, note that I had quick access to a defensive tool in case something went wrong. I suggest that you do, too.
On my steps was a young man in a yellow safety vest, orange hardhat with visor, long sleeves, and a bucket with tools in it. All of his gear looked brand new. Nothing was scuffed or dirty like it had been used. That’s important because a thief can buy all of those things at any store to look like a legitimate utility worker. But I noticed across the street was a white work truck with a logo on the side and new orange cones set up around the truck.
He stood at a distance blocking my stairs and never tried to get closer to me. Nothing in his stance indicated to me that he wanted to enter my home, nor was he moving to let anyone else run by him. He explained to me that he was here to install my new power meter and that I’d lose power for about 10 seconds.
A few weeks earlier my power company sent a postcard saying that they were going to be making this change in our area, so his story checked out. I was either looking at the best thief I’d ever met or he was legitimate. His story, work truck, and the orange cones sold me on his legitimacy, but I also knew that high-level thieves could emulate this look.
But what’s the reality here?
The most likely course of action is that he’s really here to change my meter. And that was the truth, he was very nice and worked quickly. While he was working I took the time to post on my neighborhood social media that he was working in our area. I gave a short description of him and the truck plus a positive review of his work. I wanted to help my neighbors, and this utility worker, to be safe.
So now you know how to show extreme discernment when someone comes to your door. It’s not simple anymore, you have to look at your front door like a bank vault door. Keep it locked, get a camera that covers it, and add a storm door for additional protection. And get a dog, too. They’re good for all sorts of reasons.