Home invasion differs from burglary, which is unlawful entry into any occupied or unoccupied building, with intent to commit theft. Home invasion, however, applies to unlawful entry with the intent to commit any crime rather than only theft.
Home invasion may be accompanied by other crimes. The invaders may follow their victims home, commit breaking and entering, and are sometimes intent on assault, robbery, rape, or murder. Houston, Texas saw a rise in such crimes in the late 1990s when elderly women shoppers at an upscale mall were targeted based on their jewelry, followed home, and robbed in their driveways.
Few statistics are available on home invasion as a crime, because it is not technically a crime in most states. Persons charged with "home invasion" are actually charged with robbery, kidnapping, and assault charges. But law enforcement has been seeing the increase in "home-invasion robberies" since at least June 1995, when "home-invasion robberies" were the topic of the cover story of The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. They state the crime is considered an alternative to bank or convenience store robberies, which are getting harder to pull off cleanly due to technological advances in security. In this same article, the FBI recommends educating the public about home invasion.
Since 1995, some authorities have suggested that home invasion is a minimal threat to the average person and usually involves invaders who have a personal knowledge of the home and home-owner. Both are somewhat true.
According to an Oxford English Dictionary (OED) draft entry for March 2004, the first published usage of the term in its modern sense is a November 1973 article in the Chicago Sun-Times. The OED also cites a use of the term in the 1989 novel Toxic Shock (ISBN 0-575-04372-5) by Sara Paretsky.
Perhaps the most infamous home invasion of all time is the November 15, 1959 quadruple murder of the Clutter family by Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Edward Smith in rural Holcomb, Kansas. The murders were detailed in Truman Capote's world-famous "nonfiction novel" In Cold Blood. Another infamous home invasion occurred on November 26,2007 when Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor was murdered during an overnight home invasion of his suburban Miami home. Four defendants were charged with this crime.
Connecticut Congressman Chris Murphy has proposed making home invasion a federal crime.