Home invasions are rare in Pickens and Anderson counties, officials say, but
when the crimes happen the victims are often traumatized.
A Westminster man, in Oconee County, was tied up at gunpoint Saturday in his
home and robbed, according to deputies. The perpetrator is still being sought.
Right now the assailant would likely be prosecuted for burglary but state
legislators have introduced bills that would create a new category, home
invasion, for such crimes.
The bill provides for punishments of 20 years or more for a home invasion and
would open the door to a death penalty case if someone dies during the
“It’s the new thing in the crime world,” said state Rep. Wendell Gilliard, a
Charleston Democrat who introduced the House bill.
“It’s a fad,” he said. “It’s something criminals get from movies and music.
They want a bad rep so they kick down a door. We’re not going to stop it unless
we take a hard stance.”
He said the crime is growing in his area and victims have been tied up, raped
The bill has already struck out four times, said Jeff Moore, executive director
of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association.
He isn’t confident in the bill’s chances this year, although he supports it.
The Senate Judiciary Committee was set to tackle its version of the bill, the
Home Invasion Protection Act, on Tuesday but canceled its meeting and will
likely reschedule for next week, a committee clerk said.
Moore said the bill has strong opposition from members of the committee, who he
said have long opposed creating new laws when existing laws already punish the
crimes. State Sen. Glenn McConnell, a Charleston Republican and chairman of the
committee, did not respond to a request for comment.
Moore said those opposed to the bill believe it would be another statute that
could be covered by existing laws and approving it would run counter to a
sentencing reform movement from 2010.
20 years ago, he said, the “crime de jour” was carjacking and there was
opposition to adding carjacking statutes because auto theft and kidnapping
charges already existed.
Moore said that carjackings were rising fast at the time and extra penalties
were needed and the category of carjacking was eventually added.
Home invasions are similar to burglaries in many ways. Both crimes can involve
someone breaking into a house while armed to steal things.
The difference between the crimes is big, Gilliard said.
A successful burglary avoids any homeowners while a home invasion actively
targets them, often to terrorize them or for the criminal to bolster his street
reputation, he said.
Gilliard’s House bill includes drive-by-shootings alongside home invasions
while the Senate bill covers only home invasions.
“It’s still bullets flying into a house,” he said. “It’s no different than
someone coming into your house.”
Gilliard said he wants House leadership to take his bill out of subcommittee so
it can join with the similar Senate version.
Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper said that home invasions are rare in
Anderson County. One recent and well-publicized case, in which several people
are accused of breaking into a home and later engaging in a shootout at McClure
Road in the county, would not meet the definitions of a home invasion.
There was nobody at the home when the accused burglars entered so it would be
considered a burglary case.
Skipper said that despite the rarity of the crime, he supports the bill.
“It gives us a bit more teeth in the law,” he said. “When you break in, knowing
people are there, the penalty should be more severe.”
Skipper said Tuesday, and told residents from around McClure Road in December,
that many, if not most, home invasions are not random acts and the perpetrator
knows the victim to some degree.
“With that said, it is still traumatic on those folks,” he said.
Pickens County Assistant Sheriff Tim Morgan agreed.
He said in one case about a year ago, possibly the most recent home invasion
case in the county, investigators determined that the perpetrators had bought
drugs from their victim the day before and went back armed and miffed.
He said home invasions are not a frequent problem in his county but he agrees
with the proposed extra layer of penalties for those targeting people who are
in their homes.
Moore said home invasions are one of the few crimes that he takes active
measures to prevent in his own life.
He locks his door each time he leaves, even when someone is home.
“Home invasions are fraught with violence,” he said. “I’ve seen too many
accounts of these crimes; they often end very tragically. So it certainly it is
something I pay attention to in my own life.”
(source: Anderson Independent Mail)