Spot an Intruder

Every year, an estimated 16% of American homeowners deal with a break-in. Many of these occur while the homeowner is away, but some break-ins occur while people are in the home. One of the most important things you can do is have a plan of action if there’s ever a break-in while you’re home. The plan can save your life and protect not only your family, but your belongings, as well. While no single strategy works better than another – as what you should will strongly depend on the circumstances of the break-in, working to escape and get help from emergency personnel is the best way to go.

Make a plan ahead of time with the family. Look for a secure location in your home to default to. Install a deadbolt lock on the inside of that location as soon as possible, so you have the protection there should you ever need it. Review the plan with your family members on a regular basis so everyone knows what to do if a break-in ever occurs.

If You See an Intruder Outside

Get to a safe location inside the home, away from doors and windows. Lock all access to the home – and call the police right away. Report suspicious activity on your property. Remain calm and quiet until help arrives – as it is possible the intruder will try to enter your home. If you have an alarm system, make sure it is armed – as it will sound when the intruder tries to enter. In most cases, the alarm sounding will scare the intruder away.

Do not panic. Do not try to stop the intruder from coming inside by going outside to investigate. If the intruder does come inside the home, follow the next steps.

What To Do If an Intruder Comes in Your Home

Get quiet and listen to the activity. Do your best to determine how many intruders there are and if they are moving toward you. Do not make noise by arguing with anyone else in the home about what to do – any sound you make could potentially alert the intruders to your location. Do not leave the room with a flashlight or weapon to locate the intruder – if startled, the intruder may resort to violence. When possible, avoid confrontation with the intruder. Gather the family. Quickly and quietly move to your safe location.

Move to a secure room. If alone, move to an interior closet that has a sturdy door. It is best to keep your phone in this secure location and charge it there every night. That way, you do not have to make noise or waste precious time looking for your phone. And, you’ll still have a method of communication even if the intruders take your phone off the hook or cut your phone line.

Once you are in the safe location, deadbolt the door. If no deadbolt is available, move the heaviest piece of furniture in front of the door to barricade it. Call the police with your cell phone. It is best if you have 911 pre-programmed into the phone. Chances are your adrenaline will be pumping, and making the call with shaky hands may be difficult. Calmly tell the dispatcher the situation. Explain you are away from the intruders, and you do not know how many there are, or if there are weapons involved. Stay on the phone with the dispatcher so they can get the information they need and hear what is going on around you.

Stay inside the room, and remain as quiet as possible while you wait for help to arrive. If the intruder makes their way to your location and is able to get in, be prepared to act in a confrontation. Do not alert them to the fact that you have called the police, as this could cause the situation to escalate and become violent.

What To Do If the Intruder Confronts You

If you’re unable to remain completely silent, or the intruder sees you and confronts you, the best thing you can do is to remain cooperative and calm. What you do in the first 30 seconds of the confrontation will likely set the tone for what happens next. If any violence happens, it will usually be within the first few minutes after the confrontation.

When you speak, keep your voice as normal as possible. Do not make any sudden movements, as this may provoke the intruder into an attack. Keep your hands at shoulder level to show the intruder you are compliant and not trying to do anything “funny.” Keeping your hands in this position will also enable you to defend yourself, should the need arise. It is also best to avoid direct eye contact with the intruder, as this can be interpreted as aggressive behavior and escalate the situation.

Preventing Break-Ins

The first step to preventing a break-in is to ensure your home is equipped with good doors and locks. Most break-ins happen using either the front or the back door – so it’s a good idea to invest in a solid-wood door that’s covered in steel. 1 ¾ ‘’ thickness is a good starting point. To enhance security, door jambs should also be made of steel. Any glass panels in the door should be made with unbreakable glass. Though windows are a less common entry point, it is a good idea to have strong windows that remain locked at all times.

While having good doors and locks is a great step toward prevention, the best way to protect yourself from break-ins is to have a good quality home security system installed at your property. This route allows you to have a distress code that the burglar will not be able to detect, so help is sent automatically. If you cannot answer the phone when the security company calls, don’t worry – help will be automatically sent to your address.

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