by Mark Tarses
That may seem like very obvious advice, but the fact is that thousands of burglaries are committed every year by thieves who gained entry into their victim's homes by being invited in.
There are many tricks that burglars use to get their victims to let them into their homes. Once inside, its much easier for a burglar to rob a house, "case the joint", or assault the occupant.
One very common trick is the fake Building Inspector. This is an old trick that never goes away - simply because it works!
What should you do if a stranger unexpectedly shows up at your door and says he's a Building Inspector, Health Inspector, Furnace Inspector, Fire Marshall, or other official, and asks you to let him inside to look around? Just Say No. Give him your landlord's phone number and tell him politely, but firmly, "Speak to my landlord." Do not let him in! Real Building Inspectors normally contact the landlord or property manager, not the tenant, to inspect an apartment.
Burglars posing as government officials try to look as real as possible. They often wear business suits, carry attache cases, and come with counterfeit I.D. cards and phony documents that look perfectly authentic. After all, if they looked like burglars, no one would let them in.
Criminals posing as government officials can be very intimidating. They sometimes threaten to have people arrested or fined for refusing to allow them to come in. The more intimidating a person is, the more suspicious you should be.
You cannot be arrested or fined for refusing to allow a government inspector into your home unless he has a Search Warrant signed by a judge that states exactly what he is looking for.
The Boston Strangler. In 1962 and 1963, eleven women in the Boston area were killed by the Boston Strangler. All of these women were murdered in their own homes. All were raped and then strangled with articles of their own clothing. These were all respectable women who led quiet lives. The police were baffled because they could not find any sign of forced entry. In 1964, Albert DeSalvo was arrested and confessed to all eleven murders. When he was asked how he gained entrance to his victim's homes, he said he simply knocked on the door and asked if he could come in. He often claimed that he was a handyman who had been asked by the landlord to check the apartment's plumbing. If a woman showed any reluctance to let him in, he just left and tried to get into someone else's apartment. He never tried to force his way in. All of the Strangler's victims voluntarily let him into their homes, even though everyone in Boston knew that a Strangler was loose in the city.
The moral of this story: Don't let uninvited strangers into your home.
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