What to Do If You Encounter a Home Intruder

Monday, 27 May 2019 21:55

In the US, a home is broken into every seven minutes. Many people picture burglars and intruders operating under the cover of darkness; in fact, though, most break-ins occur during the hours between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm. According to the Department of Justice, 1 million burglaries happen when people are in the home. More than a quarter escalate into violence. These are frightening numbers, so preparing and protecting yourself is essential. How should you respond if you encounter an intruder?

We’ve all heard settling noises at night: maybe we just watched a horror movie and are a little shaky. Maybe it’s an older home “settling,” pipes creaking, pets moving around, or kids going for a drink of water. The first step is distinguishing between normal household sounds and those that could indicate an intruder. Do you hear footsteps? Glass breaking? Doors opening? Objects being shuffled around?

If so:

Stay Put

Don’t pick up the baseball bat, knife, or gun and confront the intruder. It increases the chances that the break-in will turn into a violent crime. The best course of action is to stay put and lock the door of the room you’re in, if possible.

Remain Calm

It’s easier said than done, we know. Your heart’s thudding, your hands are sweating, your mind is racing. Take 10 deep, slow breaths. Panic never helps, and the more you can tamp it down, the better your chances of remaining safe.

Stay quiet. It is far better that someone makes off with your laptop or cash than harm you or your family. Text your housemates or family members to alert them, if possible. Tell them to remain calm, lock their doors, and stay quiet. If you have children, let them sleep but lock their doors.

Call the Police

Call 911. Speak very quietly, and slowly, to ensure that dispatchers can hear and understand you. Most cities and counties in North Carolina have a text-to-911 option. If you are not able to speak at even a whisper because the intruder is too close, you can text for help. Check to see if this is available in your particular area.

If text-to-911 is not available, you can use a TTY or a telecommunications relay service. This is designed for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled. You will not have to speak. Look into this to prepare for a break-in. Hopefully, you will never need it.

Evaluate Your Next Step

If it is safe, remain in place and wait for the police to arrive. Average response times vary by area, but 10 minutes is a sound ballpark. If you suspect the intruder will hurt you or your family, look for a window or back door through which you can escape safely and quietly. If not, look for a place to hide.

Know Your Rights

If you are a gun owner, you know it’s better to avoid using it. The best case scenario is that someone will steal some property (which may be covered by insurance) and leave your home immediately. Often, burglars are after a quick score and don’t intend to harm anyone. But you have no way of knowing for sure.

North Carolina is a “Stand Your Ground” state. Essentially, if you feel as if there is a reasonable threat to your life (or someone else’s), you may use force (including deadly force) to stop them. Unlike regular self-defense laws, you do not have to attempt to flee before doing so.

Stand Your Ground cases receive increasing scrutiny, so again, it is better to stay calm, quiet, and hidden. If you must use a weapon, make sure you have sufficient training and know-how.

Break-ins are frightening; they erode the sense of safety we should feel in our homes. Installing an effective security system is one way to alleviate fear, deter intruders, and, if the worst happens, have emergency help summoned automatically. Your safety, and that of your family and/or housemates, is the first priority. If you would like to consider a burglar alarm as your first line of defense, contact Integrity Security in North Wilkesboro, NC.