Watch Your Back: Be Aware of Follow-Home Robbers

Businesspeople are usually aware of the possibility that their business could be robbed, but what doesn’t always occur to them is the chance that a criminal could follow them as they leave the office and rob them at home. Learn  what you need to know to protect yourself from follow-home robbers.

On January 12th Philadelphia’s Korean-American small business people gathered to hear Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector James Tiano urge vigilance in regards to the recent brutal crimes being committed against them.

One crime in particular that has troubled the entire business community is the home invasion, robbery and murder of Robert Chae. Chue, a 58-year-old small business owner, was stabbed to death as he and his wife were leaving their suburban Philadelphia home to go to their business.

After murdering Chae, the robbers demanded that his wife hand over the family’s money. Fortunately, she was able to escape. There is speculation that the robbers targeted Chae based on his business, perhaps following him home after work.

The Philadelphia Police Department is also conducting a series of crime prevention seminars for other immigrant communities as well.

Follow-home robberies are not unique to the Asian-American business community, or to Philadelphia. An Atlanta area small businessman was also targeted and assaulted outside his home one evening last month. He was beaten, his family was bound, and the robbers demanded money.

This is also not a new crime. The late George V. Higgins, perhaps one of our finest crime writers, wrote The Friends of Eddie Coyle in 1972. In the novel a crew of vicious criminals targeted bank managers, followed them to their homes, and then held the families hostage as the bank manager was forced to help them rob the bank.

Higgins, a former crime reporter and assistant U.S. attorney in Massachusetts, said he based the novel on a series of true crimes that occurred in Boston.

Small business people are certainly aware of the possibility of their businesses being robbed (especially if they are readers of this column) but few are aware of the threat of follow-home robbers.

Recent immigrant business people are generally targeted by follow-home robbers based on the stereotype of immigrants keeping large amounts of money and valuables in their homes. Business people who deal with large amounts of cash are also targeted.

So should a small business person learn CIA tradecraft and conduct evasive tactics to ditch criminals who may be following them home after work? No, but it certainly pays for one to be aware that follow-home robberies occur, and to be alert and observant.

Keeping large amounts of cash and valuables in your home is not advisable. It is also not advisable to discuss all of the details of your business with your customers and employees. Some follow-home robberies occur due to information given to the crooks by the owner’s employees or regular customers.

You should not advertise when and how you withdrawal or deposit cash from a bank. Don’t take the same route to the bank or to your home. Vary the times you visit the bank, although it is advisable to do so during daylight hours and with a companion if you can. Also vary the time and route you leave home in the morning and return home at night.

Are suspicious people loitering near your home or business? Are suspicious people following you as you leave work and home? Are you seeing the same cars and/or people?

If so, report your suspicions to the police. Take down the license plate numbers and be prepared to offer the police a physical description of the suspicious persons. Don’t be concerned about thought paranoid. The police are aware of criminal threats like follow-home robberies, and like the Philadelphia Police Department, your local police probably offers crime prevention seminars for small business people.

Remember that follow-home robbers threaten your family as well as yourself and your business, so it pays to be vigilant.

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