Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rapists Can Take Advantage of Victim's Habits

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rapists Can Take Advantage of Victim's Habits

Article excerpt

To escape the pressure and danger of the outside world, you go home. The sanctity and safety comfort you - until someone violates that security.

Many people consider their homes a "comfort zone" and attach a false sense of security to it, said Tom Etling, an agent for Special Services, a St. Louis security firm.

Last week, an attacker was waiting for a woman when she arrived at her Clifton Heights home. The woman was raped, and the assailant is still at large. The crime showed how attackers can take advantage of daily routines. Police say the attacker may have been the South Side rapist, although they're waiting for DNA results before they can say for sure. The South Side rapist began his attacks in 1988 and has been connected to 16 rapes. The assailant in last week's rape followed a similar pattern. The attacker enters the victim's home through a window or door and waits for the woman to come home. Although these types of rapes - in which an attacker breaks into a house and does not know the victim - are less common than rapes by acquaintances or relatives, they send a frightening message to quiet neighborhoods. Rabia Rahman lives in a quiet West County suburb, but she doesn't feel as safe as she used to. "It's a wake-up call. All of a sudden, you think twice about how safe you are," she said. Certain patterns in our daily routines may tell a potential attacker whether someone is at home alone. Private investigator Bob Carey explained that the pattern of lights in a house can tell someone watching from the outside how many people are inside. When one person is at home, they may leave the light on in one room, while the pattern is different if people are moving around inside. Etling advises putting a timer on lights, especially if a spouse is going to be away on a trip. Another clue to potential intruders is whether a house has one or two cars parked outside. If the attacker has been watching the victim and observing her schedule, he will know which driver uses which car and what it means if only one car is in the driveway. People often have a set routine, which includes when they leave the house, what route they take to work and what time they come home. …

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