Needless to say, honesty is not a hallmark of criminality. Typically, the general public thinks of deception as more a part of white-collar crime than violent crime, but that is hardly the case. Violent criminal actors use deception all the time in order to position themselves to take what they want. Consider the well-established ruse in which violent street felons will approach unsuspecting victims by asking for the time, for a dollar, or for directions. While this is a known ploy, there are emerging trends in criminal deception that the aware citizen should be cognizant of.
Violent criminal actors intent on theft, robbery, or violent victimization of some kind have been using deception in various ways to go unnoticed until the moment of violence or to gain access to specific targets. This is being done through the guise of a seemingly legitimate act in the form of police, construction contractors, security, and other methods. Know what to look for.
Home Invasion Tactics
It is true that many home invasions are initiated when a criminal kicks in the front door and bursts inside to create havoc. However, sometimes, a criminal outfit acts much more prudently and simply gets the homeowner to open the door for them. This has been done quite often, and it emphasizes the importance of not opening the door for people you don’t know and are not expecting. A properly reinforced door can be difficult to breach, and it provides significant time for the home defender to prepare their defense. However, if you open the door to the strangers waiting outside, you give away that most important advantage.
Home invasion crews will sometimes send a lone individual to the door in the guise of a legitimate business. For example, an innocent-looking young woman may knock and be prepared with a routine about doing business like tree trimming or pest control or pretending to sell something. While the homeowner is distracted by this deception, the other members of the crew will approach, perhaps hidden behind landscaping bushes or around the corner, and then rush the door before the homeowner can close it. Thus, the invasion crew makes entry without the need to defeat the door.
Sometimes, a single bad actor will gain access to a home by disguising himself as an authority of some kind, such as a representative of the power, gas, or water company. A simple shirt with a company logo on it, along with a clipboard in hand, will often be all that is needed to get the average homeowner to open the door and allow the seemingly legitimate stranger right in. Don’t fall for such a ruse; if you are not expecting someone, do not let them in. If someone claims to be from a utility company, call and verify. Don’t open the door.
The means of defeating these tricks are quite simple: don’t open the door if you don’t know or are not expecting the person. If someone is soliciting something, speak with them through the door or through an installed intercom system. Also, it is a wise tactic to stay away from the door itself. Speak to the individual outside without opening the door. If it is a nefarious home invasion, they will be forced to defeat the barrier, thus giving you much more time to prepare your defense.
Public Location Robberies
Another growing tactic among criminals is to gain entry to places of business with a ruse that imitates some form of authority or legitimate undertaking. Bear in mind, for example, that construction vests can be purchased anywhere. Criminals have entered places of business in construction vests, perhaps with an added hard hat, and they waltz right in, uncontested, and then perform a robbery.
Guised in such attire, criminals have been able to get employees to open up restricted areas within businesses, thus gaining access to valuables. Most people do not even question the authority of someone dressed as a professional of some sort who would be on legitimate business in a given environment. Once again, if not expected, be wary of anyone who shows up to your place of business in a uniform of some kind.
Fake Law Enforcement Costumes
A growing trend among criminals is the impersonation of law enforcement. There have been a number of home invasions where the invading crew is dressed as law enforcement, with fake uniforms and fake badges. Typically, however, the behavior gives the ruse away, as do the details of the fake costumes. If a supposed law enforcement official demands that you open the door, pay close attention to the uniforms. Are they truly matching one another? Are weapons the same? Are guns in professional-looking retention holsters? These criminal crews who use this tactic never get such details right. If you know that things look wrong, do not open the door, and call 911.
Nefarious deception is a hallmark of criminality, so be alert to these common cons that even violent criminal actors will use.