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Home invasion is a crime in which a criminal invades another person’s home, apartment, or trailer while it is occupied. Often, the purpose of a home invasion is to rob a person of money or other belongings. Sometimes, however, this type of crime has a more frightening and violent purpose. In some cases, a criminal invades a home with the intent to commit rape, murder, acts of terrorism, or kidnapping.
Often, people think of home invasions as burglaries. In reality, however, the two crimes are dramatically different. First, burglaries tend to happen during the day, when criminals expect residences to be unoccupied because residents are at work. Home invasions are the opposite, usually taking place at night, when criminals know most people are likely to be at home. Likewise, a burglar usually targets the residence, while the home invader may target the residence and the person who lives there. For example, he may follow a person home with the intent of robbing him of his wallet, expensive watch, and household belongings.
Since no one is at home at the time of a burglary, these crimes are unlikely to become violent. Violence usually occurs only if the burglar is surprised by a resident coming home early or an interfering neighbor. A home invasion is often violent, however, as a criminal may force his way into the home by kicking open a door or breaking a window. He may then use physical violence or threats of violence to subdue the people inside the home. In some cases, he may use weapons, such as guns and knives, or restraints, such as rope and duct tape.
While many home invasions begin with a criminal breaking into a door or window, some occur when the resident opens the door for the criminal. This may happen, for example, when a resident opens a door for a criminal who is posing as a police officer, delivery person, or person in some sort of distress. The resident may allow this person into his home and learn, too late, that robbery or violence is the person’s intention. In other cases, the resident doesn’t allow the criminal into his home. Sometimes a resident may simply open his door to see who has knocked, even with a chain in place, and the criminal forces his way into the opening.
Besides the potential for material loss and the physical effects of home invasions, these types of crimes can have a lasting psychological effect. This is because most people consider their home the one place in which they are safe and protected. Home is a sanctuary for most people. After a home invasion, some people may have difficulty feeling safe anywhere.