A household is missing a husband and father at the hands of rampaging criminals. Did it need to end this way?
First, please read the news account of how Richard Ramos lost his life. Then come back for the rest of the discussion!
Now that you’ve read the story, let’s look at this a little closer.
Hopefully you’ve picked up on the fatal mistake that Mr. Ramos made: he opened the door to strangers early one summer morning. Even his wife said that it was out of character for him; whether the killers convinced him they were harmless or he was feeling especially charitable that morning, he opened the door so that they could “use the phone.”
Whenever someone unexpected comes to the door you should be wary. Not necessarily have-a-gun-in-your-hand, pointing-at-the-door wary, but rather reluctant to do anything that exposes you to the stranger any more than absolutely necessary.
Of course you should be looking out for warning signs. A decade or so ago someone asking to use the phone might not have been quite as unusual an occurrence; cell phones weren’t as ubiquitous as they are today. I haven’t met anyone in a good long time who doesn’t have a cell phone, and a request to use your phone should set off alarm bells in your head.
It’s obvious to us, in hindsight, that this was a ruse, a distraction. How should you handle this kind of incident? Simple: tell the people (through the door) that you’ll call for a tow truck or other emergency services. That often sends them scurrying to get away.
Whatever you do, do NOT allow yourself to be drawn into a conversation! A conversation only gives them more chances to work past your wariness. Simply tell them you’ll call for help and then dial 9-1-1.
Social engineering is often a choice of the savvy criminal. Having a woman go to the door while the man waits out of sight, or even just letting the woman do the talking, is a way to short-circuit our natural suspicions. While it seems to work better against a male victim than a female, it’s still generally against our better nature to suspect a woman of being a violent criminal. Don’t allow gender stereotypes to sway your commitment to self-preservation!
Finally, be prepared for a break-in if the criminals don’t get their way. Of course you should have kick-resistant doors (which really isn’t all that hard or expensive to do), and at the first sign of an attempt at forced entry put your rehearsed home defense plan into motion: get away from the door, move to your safe area, arm yourself, and let 9-1-1 know that there is someone breaking into your home NOW.
(A good resource for this kind of home defense information is the new book from Rob Pincus, titled “Defend Yourself: A Comprehensive Security Plan for the Armed Homeowner“. I’ll have a full review coming up soon, but I’ll tell you ahead of time that it’s a pretty darned good book!)
-=[ Grant ]=-