Think of all of the repair people who have entered your home. Did you know them personally? I doubt it.
Over the course of the past decade, legislation has been introduced – and often passed – to limit an employer’s ability to request a job applicant’s criminal history. Admittedly, every speeding ticket you’ve received is in some database somewhere and can be found, but how do we as a society balance minor infractions with the right to privacy? I’m not sure where the balance of publicly available data lies but I do know that every time we let a stranger into our home, we have exposed ourselves to potential danger. That’s a practical assessment, not fear-mongering, but caution should be second nature to us all. Unfortunately, life bears out the need for proactive security measures as we sadly witness from the below tragedy:
35-year-old Dr. Melissa Ketunuti had graduated from Stanford University medical school, worked in Botswana and spent about five years at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a physician and researcher.
37-year-old Jason Smith was found guilty of murder and related offenses Wednesday. Police say he was the last person known to have visited her home.
It happened in a row house on the 1700 block of Naudain Street in January of 2013. Police say Smith from Levittown, Pa. ended up strangling Ketunuti and setting her body on fire in the basement.Shortly after he was arrested, Smith gave police a lengthy confession.
He told them Ketunuti confronted him in the basement and started questioning his work. He said he eventually became enraged and started choking her.
One such tragic incident is horrible enough but we all know from news accounts of the many instances of homicides, rapes, theft, etc. that have stemmed from letting strangers into our homes. Giving strangers access to our homes can hardly be avoided as everyone, sooner or later, will have the need for a repair, delivery or pest removal. We hope and trust that the stranger has been vetted but why would leave such critical background information gathering in anyone else’s hands or go on faith that the repairman is a good guy – or woman. Also, as more concierge services such as Magic emerge to help us in our busy lives, we’re removed another step from clearly being able to identify service or delivery people coming into our homes. (Magic operates via text. Customers text 83489 with a request – for anything from pizza delivery to an electrician service call – and Magic agents coordinate delivery/service via partnered companies. The service calls are still in beta mode.)
Referring back to the homicide of Dr. Melissa Ketunuti, in the below video, our friend and renowned security expert/analyst, retired law enforcement and black-belted martial artist, Steve Kardian of Defend University – a women’s self-defense institute in NY, outlines several basics of home security when admitting a service person past the front door:
1. Hire from a reputable and known company.
2. Request the full name and, as is now possible, a text photo of the operative coming to your home. Check this info against a government photo i.d. – not the company i.d. Of course, s/he has a government I.D. – didn’t s/he drive to your home?
3. Have someone else in the home with you during the repair appointment.
4. If you can’t have another adult with you during the service call, video and audio record the repair person, transmitting in real time to a remote pc or trusted person. (Many service people may object but remember, this complete stranger now has access to you, your family and your home. Tough.)
5. Run your own criminal background check on the repair person. (Steve suggests various services such as Intelius that perform criminal history searches.)
In any and all cases, as Steve emphasizes, listen to your instinct. You should be uncomfortable with a total stranger in your home. Protect yourself as best possible – that is your only true obligation.
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As always, stay safe.