POSTED: Monday, April 28, 2014 - 6:16pm
UPDATED: Monday, May 26, 2014 - 3:25pm
MCALLEN, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — Home invasions are becoming all too common in the Rio Grande Valley.
Gang members, cartel henchmen or people hoping for a quick buck have kick down doors and run in armed.
They look for drug stashes or do it for retribution. There have been stories of innocent families torn apart.
In 2010, a Guatemalan woman was shot after five masked men entered her home. The men mistook her home for a drug stash house.
“We have seen some cases in which these assailants will break into the wrong home. They had mistaken identity," Lt. Oscar Treviño of the Edinburg Police Department said. "The worst case scenario is when you arrive to one of these calls, and you see the children that are involved. The children that are traumatized by seeing their parents manhandled, thrown on the ground, pistol whipped, … this is something that will affect them basically for the rest of their lives.”
Home invasion statistics are notoriously unreliable. Many home invasions go into police reports as either burglary of habitation or aggravated robbery. Neither of the crimes have the home invasion distinction and makes it hard to compile numbers.
Law enforcement officials say the scene around a home invasion has become all too familiar.
“We have seen an increase in home invasions around the entire valley, I believe that that is attributed to being so close to the border, and because of the war on drugs that we have right now," Treviño said. "There’s more and more people that are getting involved in drug activity."
In 2012, three men stormed a home near Edinburg hoping to find a large amount of Marijuana. They went to the wrong house and Victor Serna was shot in the head and killed coming to his son’s aid.
Getting a gun is an obvious choice for home protection. But we’re going to look at ways to try to prevent them from happening. Homeowners can get a fence or burglar bars for their home.
Joe Tovar used to make a living responding to crimes as a police officer. Now he makes a living offering a more playful kind of protection. His company P2P protection trains and sells personal protection dogs. They grimace, growl and bark at anybody who threatens their family.
“You must remember most of these people, when they do a home invasion, they want to be in a stealth mode," Tovar said. "They want to do a home invasion as quietly as possible. That’s what they want to do. When they meet a dog at the door, that’s a great deterrant.”
Another deterrent is the 1,500 pounds of pressure per square inch on one of their bites. These dogs will put themselves between you and any threat. They’ll bite, and won’t let go until they’re told to stop. Guard dogs start at under $8,000. They can sense danger coming from down the block and will always keep an eye out for it.
Cameras and alarm systems can’t keep anybody out, but can alert for help and will assist officers in catching the criminal.
“If you cannot get to a phone to call for help, the alarm company will send police out there as quickly as possible," Treviño said. "Home surveillance camera systems. Those help out a lot to assist the police in getting good descriptions, getting vehicle descriptions, license plates,”
Ric Tamez spent nearly two decades in the McAllen Police Department. He opened up RGV Spy Tek originally to offer security cameras. Now you can find all kinds of items for personal protection.
“People who have been victimized and they want to have video now, and they want to protect their homes by having a security system," Tamez said. "And protecting themselves in the event they become victims.”
He sells a pair of items that renters can use. Landlords won’t always allow window and door protection for an apartment. The Forceguard Portable Door Lock can be put onto any door. Intruders will have to break the door frame before it allows them inside. The DoorJammer Door Security device works much the same way; it makes it harder for anybody to get through the door.
They both cost less than $30.
“Some doors are just real weak with the lock that they have, Tamez said. "Doorstops will not completely keep somebody out of the house, but it’s going to be difficult to go and try to open a door.”
Whatever you choose for home protection, law enforcement suggests the same thing. To be cautious, observe and look out for one another.
“That’s the best thing that somebody can do is look out for each other, the neighborhood watch, your next door neighbor, build a good rapport with them," Treviño said. "Report suspicious activity in the neighborhood.”