Home invasion victim says life will never be the same - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Home invasion victim says life will never be the same

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Being the victim of a home invasion is frightening.  And we've been hearing about more of them lately. 

All week we've been telling you about a home invasion in LaPorte County in which police say a hatchet wielding intruder was shot dead by the man living in the home.  But not all home invasions end this way.  In a lot of cases the burglars get out of the house with valuables and in the process end up torturing the people in the home.

Dearl Brown of LaGrange County thought he had a slice of heaven on a lake.  But one night his paradise quickly turned into a nightmare.  "As soon as I opened the door they came through, they knocked me back into all this stuff and I landed on the floor over here," said Brown.

Brown said he thought is was his neighbor knocking on his door late one night.  But it turned out to be a group of people wearing masks.  "They held my head under their arm with the gun between my eyes and they drug me from room to room in my house making me point out anything of value or where anything of value was."

Before leaving Brown's home one of the masked-men took him to his bedroom.  "He dropped me face down on my bed with my hands tied to the back of my legs and I was in that position for quite a while before I could get loose," said Brown.

Brown said they made off with money and more.  "They took every tool I had, every saw, every screw gun, every drill."

Tools he used for his job.  So without them he said he had to give up his work.  "I guess my career as a plumber full time is over," said Brown.

But it wasn't just the lack of tools that forced him to give up his old job.  The home invasion left him injured.  Brown said, "the hospital bill was probably three times as much as what they took out of this house. "  And he has lasting effects.  "Severe headaches and I get those everyday," said Brown.  Those headaches are so severe he can no longer work a full day without stopping to rest.

"Financially I'm struggling.  It's hard for me to get a job," said Brown.  To make ends meet Dearl has what he calls a "never ending garage sale."  "I guess you'd call me a picker now.  We go to other sales buy stuff up cheap and bring it over here and try to double our money on it," said Brown.

His home is now filled with items that he'll try to sell to pay his rent.  And that's not the only change to his house, he now has cameras and motion detector lights outside.  And Brown said, "we're building a safe room also downstairs."

Brown said the thieves took his sense of security and since they also robbed him of his health and career, they didn't just steal from him.  "They took the food out of my children's mouth.  That's what they did," said Brown.

Indiana State Police are investigating the home-invasion.  It is still an open investigation.  police are seeing more of these types of crimes.  ISP Detective Jeff Boyd said it sounds far fetched, like it would only happen in big cities, but realistically it's happening in small communities too.  "There does appear to be a series or group of people who are going around doing this type of crime.  I know we've had some other similar type crimes in Elkhart as well as St. Joe County and Michigan," said Boyd.

Boyd said the best thing to do is always be aware of your surroundings, whether you are at home or out.

He also said to always keep your doors locked.  Look outside before you answer the door, if you have to you can ask the person who they are through the door.  If something doesn't sound right to you just don't answer.  Boyd said thieves will use the excuse that they are looking for their dog or sometimes there will be a small child outside your door and three or four men nearby ready to jump you when you open the door for the child.  That's why he said you really need to be aware of your surroundings.

If you can afford an alarm system, Boyd said it's a good idea.  He said if thieves pull into your driveway and see a sign for an alarm system they'll go to the next house.

And lookout for your neighbors.  Boyd said if your neighbor is on vacation and you see a strange car at their place make sure you get the license plate from the car.  This way if anything does happen you can help the police.

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