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  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

What is a Follow-Home Robbery?

How to defend your family from a follow-home robbery

Since the holiday shopping season has peaked, there is a new trend in crime called the follow-home robbery. This type of crime has been around for years and is found all over the world. It’s nothing new really, but the increase in this type of crime is concerning.

A follow home robbery is when attackers select a target in a public place, follow them to their residence and then rob them violently.

There are also other types of follow-home crimes like sexual assault, kidnapping, or murder. The information we go over will be for robbery, but also useful for the other types of follow-home crime, too.

The target can be chosen based on what they buy, how they look, or by what car they drive. It depends on the motive of the attacker. In short, the bad guys profile their target and select someone based on the likelihood they’ll be successful versus the amount of energy it takes to attack them and what they’ll gain. This is open source intelligence and the crime triangle all at play here.

While a follow-home robbery is an old tactic, with social media catching these crimes in action, fellow thieves can see how effective they are and then emulate those attacks. And if it works in Los Angles where the biggest spike in this type of crime is happening, then it’s going to spread.

As protector parents, we can take measures to protect ourselves. I’ve been working on this and found out the reality of what we can expect to do as parents who aren’t trained spies. We’ll work through each stage of this process and work on deterring being chosen as a target for a follow-home robbery.

The trend that we’re seeing in this crime seems to be originating from retail locations, so that’s where will start.

Victim Selection

When we are shopping, we need to not only be aware of who is around us, but what we are buying. If we’re buying a high-value item like a gaming system, ammunition, or jewelry - our shopping list could put us square in someone’s sights.

Take into consideration the value of what you’re buying to someone else and what it may say about how you live. For example, if you buy ammunition the price on that is sky high now and it’s been scarce.

With ammunition, we have an item that is of high value, scarce, easily traded, or used and it says that you probably have guns at home. Don’t you think that that a bad guy would see that? That’s an attractive target, right?

Of course, you might think that if you buy ammo then people will know that you are armed and that will protect you to some degree. But don’t underestimate a motivated attacker who can strike quickly and has stalked you for some time. I’m just saying, don’t assume you’re safe just because you’re buying ammo.

Who is Near Us

To help us avoid being targeted at well… Target, look around and see who you see close to you multiple times in the store. That could be a lot of people, but cross-reference that with people who leave when you do and someone might stand out. Also if you have a gut feeling about someone, trust that feeling.

If a person follows you to another store, like at a mall or outlet that’s not abnormal. If they follow you to more than one place that you had to use your car to get to and they’re not buying anything, that could be trouble.

If this occurs call 911, tell dispatch that you believe you’re being followed, and give a description of that person. Then tell them where you’ve seen them, that they are not purchasing anything, and they are observing you in multiple locations. That’s actionable information for law enforcement. Make sure you can articulate that and it will help your case.

The Pursuit

The second phase of a follow-home robbery is trailing you home in your car, public transportation, or some other means. This can be hard to do if you’re driving a vehicle, especially if you are a parent.

It’s going to be really hard to track other cars as you’re driving and trying to open a juice box while listening to, Baby Shark. We’ve all been there. I don’t expect you to keep track of every vehicle movement, it’s not possible for us.

If do happen to see a vehicle that you think is following you, don’t go home. Drive around a bit and see if they stay with you. Go around parking lots in public places, park your car, and then suddenly drive off. If they stay with you, you’ve got a problem.

Get on the phone with 911, explain that a person has followed you from a store, in their car and you’ve tried to lose them and they’re still with you. Tell them that you are concerned for your safety and the safety of your children. Then, ask to meet an officer somewhere.

The Attack

Now let’s suppose that the bad guys are really good and a team of people has been observing you in a store and on your way home. You’ve not detected them at all, which is highly possible. Now you’ve got to get inside your home and this transition is when most of these attacks occur.

The attack occurs in the transition from the car to the home because the attackers can engage you outside, from a place you thought was safe, they have the element of surprise, they (usually) have an overwhelming force and they can escape quickly.

The Importance of the Garage

If you have a garage, park in it and don’t open unlock your car door until the garage door is down. This gives you a barrier and the ability to be concealed while you unload your family and your items. If you have a garage and it’s full of junk. Clean it out and make sure a car can park in there.

The safety of your family outweighs the inconvenience of moving your ping-pong table.

If you park on the street or in your driveway, check all around you before you get out. Look for cars that don’t belong to your neighbors. And see if there’s a group of people in a running car near your home. If you see anything that looks out of the ordinary, start your car a leave.

If you see the attack coming, know that your car provides protection and also a means of escape. Get back in, start it up and take off. If they block you in, hit their car to show them you’re serious.

Do a 57 point turn, whatever. Drive over your lawn or your neighbor’s lawn. Get that car moving and don’t stop. Then call 911 once you are far enough away.

A follow-home robbery is a dynamic crime. There’s a lot of moving parts to it. But if we are observant and we project a sense of awareness, then the chances of us being targeted for this type of crime will decrease.

I hope that this trend in crime levels out soon because it is so hard to detect. But as jobs and resources become scarce, crime will increase. Let’s all be vigilant.


Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

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