Facebook post from a woman worried that she had just narrowly escaped a home invasion attracted a lot of attention. The post, from Kim Fleming Cernigliaro in Tatum, Texas, describes an attempt to disable the latching mechanism of her front door by wrapping a rubber band around it. The post reads:
Warning!!! Two weeks ago during the day, a hard knock was at my front door, not a regular knock but almost pounding, (I honestly thought something may have happened to someone and they needed help) but something didn’t feel right….and I DO NOT answer the door when I am here by myself. So don’t bother! After several Knocks, they finally left. I glanced and could see it was a man through the stained glass of my door. After about 30 minutes I walked outside to look for what I thought would be a brochure, but instead found a rubber band around my knob to hold the door to open when I unlocked the latch. I called Ron and he told me to get the gun out and leave it out. The Sheriff came by yesterday and said this is happening all of a sudden, as soon as you unlatch the door, they do not wait for you to turn the knob, they can bust in on you. Anyway just be careful, I USE to be such a trusting person, but not at all anymore! So let me just say, I have a GUN and I know how to use it, just FYI, I out shot my husband the last time we target practiced, so believe me, I will use it. I have too much to live for! Do NOT ANSWER doors without knowing for sure you know who is on the other side! Those days are over!!!! ???Kids need to be made aware of this too!
Although the post has been shared more than 180,000 times and has spawned several articles warning of the danger of this technique, the information is unconfirmed, however.
It is unlikely that a rubber band positioned like this would actually be of any use to a would-be criminal because holding the latch down is only effective if the locking mechanism is disengaged. A criminal would still have to hang around the front door waiting for someone inside to unlock it before forcing his way inside, so the rubber band provides no real advantage.
Snopes.com suggests the possibility that the rubber bands were used to “hold a brochure or newspaper that blew away or was removed by someone else,” a scenario substantiated by Cernigliaro’s comments that she was not the only resident of her neighborhood to discover a rubber band on the door handle.
It is important to note that Cernigliaro’s post emphasizes the need to exercise caution when opening a door to strangers. “Do NOT ANSWER DOORS without knowing for sure you know who is on the other side!” she advises. The Hoover Police Department of Hoover, Ala. provides tips for preventing crime perpetrated by a stranger at the door, and recommends looking through a peephole or window while talking to the person through the closed door. The police agree with Cernigliaro that not opening the door at all is the most effective way to prevent a crime from taking place.