ROCKVILLE, Md. — Victims of home invasions are offering praise for a new Maryland law that will make the nightmarish crime legally distinct from burglary and carry a stiffer penalty starting in October.
Monique Anderson will likely never forget the night in January 2011 when armed men stormed into her Silver Spring home while her new baby was cradled in her mother-in-law’s arms.
“It was definitely terrifying because I just brought this little girl into the world and I was scared that it was going to be her last day,” Anderson says.
“A home invasion is different from a burglary, a home invasion is just not the same,” says Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, who brought together crime victims who support the new law and state legislators who helped guide the legislation through the Maryland General Assembly. The governor signed the bill into law April 14.
“This crime is different. It needs to be distinguished and punished differently. There is an enhanced penalty for this particular crime so that people that commit this crime will face a potentially greater penalty of up to 25 years in prison if they are convicted of home invasions,” McCarthy says.
At 83 years old, Betty Tubbs seems to have lost none of the feistiness that allowed her to survive when a man burst into her Chevy Chase Village home in 2007.
“The man came from behind the doors … and pushed me to the floor and tied me up and gagged me and blindfolded me,” Tubbs says.
Tubbs said she knew she’d been tied with clothesline and knew if she kept trying, she might be able to loosen the ties. She succeeded and managed to escape.
The man who entered her home that day, Jose Garcia-Perlera, was later found guilty of four home invasions — Tubbs was the second. On his fourth offense, he murdered his victim and is now serving a life sentence.
“I don’t think anybody could be happier that this bill is passing than the victims,” Tubbs says.
Anderson believes it’s very necessary to make home invasion a completely separate crime from burglary.
“The type of people to do a home invasion are much sicker than the people who do regular (burglaries) because they’re watching you. They know the people are home,” Anderson says.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Delegate Susan Lee of Montgomery County, says home invasion is a violent and growing crime.
“It’s a high level of viciousness. It’s not just a crime of property … we have seen an upswing throughout Maryland in this type of crime, violent home invasions,” Lee says.
There were 36 home invasions in Montgomery County in 2013 — double the number of carjackings.
Prosecutors and lawmakers say distinguishing home invasion from burglary is not unlike what states did several years ago when they made carjacking a separate crime from car theft.