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So what do you do when your home is burgled? (UK)

Old 11-30-04, 10:42 PM
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So what do you do when your home is burgled? (UK)

http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=1377062004
So what do you do when your home is burgled?

It takes more than repairing the locks and replacing lost valuables for victims to get over the trauma of a break-in

DR IAN STEPHEN


THE murder of John Monckton and the attack on his wife, Homeyra, during an apparent burglary in their London home has once again highlighted the true dangers and indeed the legal and moral dilemma members of the public face when they are confronted with intruders on their own property.

From a police perspective, the advice to potential victims of burglaries is unequivocal and clear-cut and you should never "have a go", so to speak, but for the victims of crime this is a very difficult thing to put into practice, especially when your natural instincts are to defend yourself, your family and your own property - the very pillars of your life that are being violated and potentially destroyed by criminals.

As a law-abiding individual confronted by an intruder in your home you face a catch-22. If you attack the burglar, or react in an "over the top" manner, as was recently illustrated in the case of Tony Martin who shot intruders in his Norfolk farmhouse, you will inevitably end up on the receiving end of a prison sentence that will far outstrip that imposed on the intruder in your own home. This situation has resulted in a lack of belief in the law among the public or rather a belief that the law isnít exactly on your side when your home is broken into.

To this end it is perhaps important not to dwell on the situation involving Mr Martin because, regardless of the appeal procedure he successfully went through to secure his freedom, in many ways the law still points to his particular attack on the intruders who entered his home as a pre-meditated assault. He had previously been the victim of a number of burglaries within his home and as a result of this he was effectively prepared for further intrusion and reacted as such when his farmhouse was broken into again.

But what the Martin case does reflect is the general fear felt by the public over rising crime rates and the extent to which they will go to protect themselves. As the case involving Mr and Mrs Monckton shows those most at risk from aggravated burglary are the wealthy, individuals identified by criminals as prosperous professionals. However, at the other end of the scale, people living in inner cities and on council estates face a similar level of risk.

When individuals are confronted by intruders there are some actions they should follow. Direct contact should be avoided whenever possible. If unavoidable, the victim should adopt a state of active passivity. In most cases the best form of defence is always avoidance. If this isnít possible, act passively, be careful what you say or do and give up valuables without a struggle. This allows the victim to take charge of the situation, without the intruderís awareness, through subtle and non-confrontational means. People can cooperate but initiate nothing. By doing nothing there is no chance of inadvertently initiating violence by saying something such as "Please donít hurt me".

In a situation involving housebreaking it is also important to remember that many common burglars are adolescents, most likely starting out on the first rung of the criminal ladder, and they are therefore prone to lashing out if confronted and in the worst case scenarios killing out of panic and fear.

Sometimes the perpetrator of a burglary is even more terrified than the victim and in many cases when things go wrong it is the perpetrator of the crime who panics. Although they sometimes go equipped with weapons, in most cases they probably donít intend to use them but in the heat of the moment, and the fear of either getting caught or attacked themselves, they use them. They donít expect the person they are trying to hold up to retaliate or react. Mostly the knife is there simply for intimidation rather than intent to use it and they finish up killing somebody by accident rather than design.

This, of course, does not excuse their actions, but it is certainly worth taking on-board when you consider confronting an intruder. While saying this, in my own experience counselling victims of crime in recent years, there has also recently been a marked increase in the use or the threatened use of dangerous weapons in burglaries and common assaults. This, in itself, is a deeply worrying trend and, although not entirely excusing over-retaliation from homeowners, creates an understandable degree of sympathy for members of the public who lash out at intruders in their home. In truth it is an incredibly difficult situation to assess.

What is perhaps most important is dealing with the victims of the crime and helping them through the aftermath. As someone with wide experience of counselling the victims of violent robberies in their homes it is essential to remember the post-traumatic stress associated with such incidents.

The truth is aggravated burglary causes enormous stress as the victimís home has been violated. This situation is magnified when the victims and their family have been threatened or assaulted and can lead to a whole range of post-traumatic stress disorders. Like the victims of rape and violent assault, members of the public who experience criminal intrusion in their home experience episodes and often show all the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress like panic attacks, sleep disorders, flashbacks and social withdrawal.

Like other serious crimes the aftermath of a burglary can be the start of a process that continues to destroy the victimís self-esteem and even relationships with their loved ones and more often than not reinforces their feelings of guilt and self-blame over the situation. The damage to the victim from the original crime can also be magnified by the court experience and, more likely in todayís society, the lack of support from local authorities and the police.

The trauma can be dealt with in a number of ways with professional help, counselling to develop effective coping strategies and taking time off from stressful professional activities. People who fail to seek help often develop further psychological problems. Men especially are not good at accepting support, but some simple counselling immediately after an attack can substantially reduce the risk of long-term psychological problems.

ē Dr Ian Stephen is an Honorary Lecturer (Forensic Psychology) at Glasgow Caledonian University and has worked in a number of prisons with long-term prisoners and young offenders. He was a consultant to forensic psychology television series Cracker.
Well, he could have gotten his gun and defended himself; no, that's illegal. How about grabbing a knife and protecting himself; nope, that's illegal. How about just sitting there like a duck and getting killed; that will work in England.
The police are really good at drawing outlines with white chalk.
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Old 11-30-04, 10:57 PM
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pretty sad when a <b>criminal</b> in YOUR house has more rights than YOU

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Old 11-30-04, 11:22 PM
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pretty sad when a criminal in YOUR house has more rights than YOU
You don't seem to understand, they're not criminals, they're socially, financially, and morally opressed urban entrepreneurs.

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Old 11-30-04, 11:41 PM
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Haven't the Brits learned that you shoot first, plant your backup later? Fire a hole in the wall behind where you shot from too, using the dead burglar's hand to fire the shot (so there's powder on it).


<font size=1>By the way, I'm joking.</font>
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Old 12-01-04, 02:33 AM
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Originally posted by Thor Simpson
Haven't the Brits learned that you shoot first, plant your backup later? Fire a hole in the wall behind where you shot from too, using the dead burglar's hand to fire the shot (so there's powder on it).


<font size=1>By the way, I'm joking.</font>
But Brits aren't allowed guns.

But you knew that.
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Old 12-01-04, 01:50 PM
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Thank God I live in Texas

Home of the "he needed killin', Your Honor " defense.
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Old 12-01-04, 01:59 PM
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Originally posted by mikehunt
pretty sad when a <b>criminal</b> in YOUR house has more rights than YOU
Agreed. While I don't feel there should be a blanket policy that you can shoot an uninvited intruder in your home in every case, if there's a question of the circumstances surrounding the shooting between the homeowner and the intruder, then break the tie in favor of the homeowner.
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Old 12-01-04, 03:15 PM
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Originally posted by Giantrobo
But Brits aren't allowed guns.

But you knew that.
Then explain to me the furor over the fox hunting ban. I always thought that <i>handguns</i> were illegal, but rifles and shotguns weren't, at least not everywhere.

Oh, and here's a nice editorial from a year and a half ago:

http://www.nationalreview.com/kopel/kopel051403.asp
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Old 12-01-04, 10:33 PM
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Originally posted by wendersfan
Then explain to me the furor over the fox hunting ban. I always thought that <i>handguns</i> were illegal, but rifles and shotguns weren't, at least not everywhere.

Oh, and here's a nice editorial from a year and a half ago:

http://www.nationalreview.com/kopel/kopel051403.asp

Dude, how many average Brits have hunting rifles?
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Old 12-01-04, 10:42 PM
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Originally posted by Giantrobo
Dude, how many average Brits have hunting rifles?
The hell if I know, but all those manor homes in the movies seem to have a huge gun cabinet...
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Old 12-01-04, 10:57 PM
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they don't hunt foxes with guns, dogs do the killing

Originally posted by wendersfan
Then explain to me the furor over the fox hunting ban. I always thought that <i>handguns</i> were illegal, but rifles and shotguns weren't, at least not everywhere.

Oh, and here's a nice editorial from a year and a half ago:

http://www.nationalreview.com/kopel/kopel051403.asp

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Old 12-01-04, 11:00 PM
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most are kids starting their life of crime: all the more reason to beat the crap out of them or kill them in self defense, to put a stop to their life of crime
that paragraph about not doing anything to resist is just so damn pathetic. when did france take over england?
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Old 12-01-04, 11:02 PM
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Originally posted by mikehunt
when did france take over england?
1066 according to my Western Civ professor.
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Old 12-02-04, 12:05 AM
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Originally posted by wendersfan
The hell if I know, but all those manor homes in the movies seem to have a huge gun cabinet...

I said <i>average Brit</i>...
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Old 12-02-04, 09:47 AM
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I always wondered why those burglars in Home Alone didn't end up suing that kid's family for tons of money. I chalked it up to them being monumentally stupid.
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Old 12-03-04, 05:33 PM
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Originally posted by Goldblum
Agreed. While I don't feel there should be a blanket policy that you can shoot an uninvited intruder in your home in every case, if there's a question of the circumstances surrounding the shooting between the homeowner and the intruder, then break the tie in favor of the homeowner.
This is where we differ. Here in the south we have the "Make my day" laws. They basically say that a person can kill an intruder in their own home. The circumstances vary, but in most cases if you say you were afraid for your or a family member's life, the cops won't even press charges. Just be careful when you talk to the cops and everything should turn out ok.

Now in England I guess you have to plan ahead. Buy a wood chipper or a few pigs.
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Old 12-03-04, 05:55 PM
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when i was in the army in italy my first sgt retired there

he said it sucked that he couldn't shoot a burglar dead like you can in the US. in europe he says you can't kill to protect your property
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Old 12-07-04, 10:27 AM
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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/m.../07/do0702.xml
An Englishman's home is his dungeon
By Mark Steyn
(Filed: 07/12/2004)

One of the key measures of a society's health is how easily you can insulate yourself from its underclass. In America, unless one resides in a very small number of problematic inner-city quarters or wishes to make a career in the drug trade, one will live a life blessedly untouched by crime. In Britain, alas, it's the peculiar genius of Home Office policy to have turned the entire country into one big, rundown, inner-city, no-go slum estate, extending from prosperous suburbs to leafy villages, even unto Upper Cheyne Row.

The murderers of John Monckton understood the logic of this policy better than the lethargic overpaid British constabulary. An Englishman's home is not his castle, but his dungeon and ever more so - window bars, window locks, dead bolts, laser security, and no doubt biometricrecognition garage doors, once the Blunkett national ID card goes into circulation.

All this high-tech protection, urged on the householder by Pc Plod, may make your home more secure, but it makes you less so. From the burglar's point of view, the more advanced and impregnable the alarm systems become, the more it makes sense just to knock on the door and stab whoever answers.

Mr Monckton's killers thus made an entirely rational choice. He was a wealthy man, living in a prestigious neighbourhood of £3 million homes, and he presumably had the best security system to go with it. But time it right, get him to the front door, and the state-enforced impotence of the homeowner makes him as vulnerable as any old loser in a decrepit urine-sodden block on Broadwater Farm.

Various reassuring types, from police spokesmen to the Economist, described the stabbing of the Moncktons as a "burglary gone wrong". If only more burglaries could go right, they imply, this sort of thing wouldn't happen.

But the trouble is that this kind of burglary - the kind most likely to go "wrong" - is now the norm in Britain. In America, it's called a "hot" burglary - a burglary that takes place when the homeowners are present - or a "home invasion", which is a much more accurate term. Just over 10 per cent of US burglaries are "hot" burglaries, and in my part of the world it's statistically insignificant: there is virtually zero chance of a New Hampshire home being broken into while the family are present. But in England and Wales it's more than 50 per cent and climbing. Which is hardly surprising given the police's petty, well-publicised pursuit of those citizens who have the impertinence to resist criminals.

These days, even as he or she is being clobbered, the more thoughtful British subject is usually keeping an eye (the one that hasn't been poked out) on potential liability. Four years ago, Shirley Best, proprietor of the Rolander Fashion emporium, whose clients include Zara Phillips, was ironing some clothes when the proverbial two youths showed up. They pressed the hot iron into her flesh, burning her badly, and then stole her watch. "I was frightened to defend myself," said Miss Best. "I thought if I did anything I would be arrested." There speaks the modern British crime victim.

Her Majesty's Constabulary has metaphorically put a huge neon sign on every suburban cul-de-sac advertising open season on property owners. If you have a crime policy that makes "hot" burglaries routine, it's a reasonable bet that more and more citizens will wind up beaten, stabbed or dead.

I've been writing on this subject in The Telegraph for the best part of a decade now and, to be honest, I might as well recycle the 1996 or 1997 column and spend the week in the Virgin Islands.

My argument never changes. All that changes is the increasing familiarity of Britons with violent crime. Mr Monckton was a cousin by marriage of The Sunday Telegraph's Dominic Lawson, who is leading a campaign to allow citizens to defend themselves in their own homes.

That this most basic right should be something for which he has to organise a campaign is disgraceful. In New Hampshire, there are few burglaries because there's a high rate of gun ownership. Getting your head blown off for a $70 TV set isn't worth it. Conversely, thanks to the British police, burning the flesh of a London dressmaker to get her watch is definitely worth it. In Chelsea the morning after Mr Monckton's murder, Her Majesty's Keystone Konstabulary with all their state-of-the-art toys had sealed off the street in an almost comical illustration of their lavishly funded uselessness.


But let's look at it from their point of view. Suppose, instead of more of these robberies going wrong, they went right. The homeowner cowered in the bathroom, while the lads helped themselves to the DVD player and the wife's jewellery, and then the coppers came round and took a statement and advised you to get another half-dozen door chains and keep the jewellery in a vault at the bank.

Is it reasonable to live like that? After some crime column or other last year, I had a flurry of letters from American readers who'd been working in Britain and had been astonished at the rate of "garden theft" - that's to say, stuff the average American would never dream of lugging indoors back home, but which, during his sojourn across the pond, had been half-inched from the patio in the course of the night.

The British establishment's current complacent approach accepts that ever greater and ever more violent crime is a fact of life, rather than a historical aberration encouraged by the unprecedented constraints placed on the law-abiding and the boundless licence extended to the criminal class. That policy leads remorselessly to more deaths, and to lives lived under small but ever more insidious and corrupting restrictions.

The Tories' big mistake was their failure to understand that "freedom" isn't just about consumer choices or buying your council flat. It's also about being free to defend your home - after all, you're there on the scene and the West Midlands Police 24-Hour Crime Hotline answering machine isn't.

And an assertive citizenry, confident in its freedoms and its responsibilities, is a better bet for long-term survival than the passive charges of the nanny state. If the Government declines to pay any heed to The Sunday Telegraph campaign, and if the police persist in victimising the victims of crime, then I hope we'll see widespread jury rebellion and a refusal to convict.

The right to protect your family does not derive from any home secretary or chief constable.
Steyn The Great weighs in.

Last edited by bhk; 12-07-04 at 10:30 AM.
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