Clinton residents learn tactics for preventing a home invasion
PGPD Cpl. Reaves covers no nonsense tactics for families
Providing residents with tools, tactics and the know-how to protect themselves and their fam- ilies against home invasions, Cpl. Shawn Reaves of the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Special Operations Division and the Mount Airy Estates Home Owners Association Inc. hosted a home invasion and prevention seminar on April 18 at The Corporate Group, LLC Cleaning Solutions Center in Clinton.
“In our communities, there are far too many victims that don’t have to be victims. So I realized just through education and just making someone prepared, you can minimize a citizen becoming a victim by giving some simple tips, some deterrent options,” Reaves said. “Just getting people to think, trying to change their mindset.”
The main objectives Reaves covered in his presentation included getting citizens to change their programming, telling them how they can make changes in their day-to-day life that can decrease their chances of becoming a victim of home invasion, sharing what tools to possess that can help citizens before and during an incident, understand how the human body reacts to a high-stress incident, what they should do when they are face-to-face with an attacker and teaching them how to “burn their boat.”
According to Reaves, preventing
a criminal act starts by changing the mindset which includes being unpredictable, as well as routinely changing the route from work to home. If people feel like they’re being followed, they should avoid going home and abruptly change their route and start driving toward a police station, firehouse or another populated area. It may also be necessary to drive past their home and attempt a U-turn if they live on a dead end street. In instances where people are blocked in by the follower, they should stay inside the vehicle because that can be used as a weapon, Reaves said.
“You have to get beyond the books and videos. They simply make you feel good,” he said. “When a wolf attacks, he scatters the flock in hopes of fighting a few not many. That’s what these guys are doing now. We’re making it easy for them.”
In terms of doing the same thing over and over again without noticing the changes, Reaves called this the “7-Eleven/Starbucks Syndrome.” That’s why, he said, it’s important to network with fellow neighbors, pay attention to all warning signs, trust your instincts and help protect the community by being a watchdog.
“You don’t notice the fact that this happens all the time here in Prince George’s County where people will walk [straight] into a 7-Eleven and everybody’s got their hands up. But they walk right in and walk straight to the coffee machine. They don’t realize the place is getting robbed because they’ve done it over and over and over and over again and never noticed the changes,” he said. “Even if they do, they go into denial and think that this can’t be happening.”
Reaves said home invasions don’t just happen at random as the “wolf” — or person attempting to attack — is watchful and knows that the risks are extremely high.
For Reaves, the notion “if you see something, say something” is very important. One way to make the community safer is by networking with neighbors, he said.
“We have to network with our neighbors,” he said. “We lost that and we can’t figure out why our houses are getting broken into and nobody’s saying nothing. It’s because we don’t know our neighbors. We have to look at our community as our house. If somebody invades our house, we need to notice the change. But if we don’t notice the change, we’re going to be victims.”
If a home is under attack, Reaves recommends having a “force multiplier” such as a handgun, quality flashlight, ASP baton, pepper spray, bat, knife or even a cell phone to gain a tactical advantage. High ground is always the best option to assess a situation — don’t be fast to call out the intruder, dial 911, hold your position of domination and keep the lights off so that you don’t give away your location in the house to the invader. If the lights are out, scan with your eyes, Reaves said.
“If somebody is in your house, they’re prepared to hurt you,” he said. “When you hear your door crashing in, trust the sound and go with your plan A.”
Another way people can prevent a home invasion is to use portable door security devices like a door jammer or metal pole by the door, which can also function as weapons for self protection. Reaves said doing this helps create a barrier, making it more challenging for an intruder to get inside.
“If it goes down, plan for it. If your children are separated, try to get everybody in one area and then defend that door like your lives depend on it because it does,” said Reaves. “Depending on the way the door opens, position your attack on the hinge side. … That’s when you need to attack with all you got.”
Reaves said it’s vital for people to understand that they have a right to not only protect themselves, but their families as well. It’s better to have a conversation and a plan now as opposed to not being prepared when a home invasion occurs, he said.
“Because we’re in the community, we’re very involved with the community and we want to have events like this so that we bring awareness. In an informed community, everybody wins,” said Javier Torres of Clinton, co-owner of The Corporate Group LLC who hosted the seminar. “We have to be vigilant and observant of our surroundings. I think that a lot of times, what happens is we walk around nonchalant, we forget our surroundings and we forget where we are. … Events like this brings everything to the forefront and it makes us aware of where we are.”
Cpl. Shawn Reaves of the Prince George’s County Police Department Special Operations Divisions speaks to residents about strategies for preventing a home invasion during a special seminar on April 18 at The Corporate Group LLC Cleaning Solutions Center in Clinton. Reaves has served with PGPD’s Emergency Services Team for about 16 years. He recently appeared on ABC 7 News in December of last year to share information on how citizens should prepare for an active shooter situation.