4 Ways to Protect Yourself During a Burglary

Imagine sitting in the comfort of your home, your castle, and suddenly finding yourself face-to-face with a burglar or two, breaking in while you are home alone. This was not just a scenario, but also a very real and scary reality for the mother of a colleague of mine.

The mother was home alone and heard the doorbell ring. She went to the door, peered through the peephole, and saw two girls outside. She didn't recognize them and assumed they were selling something. The homeowner did not want to be bothered with a sales pitch so she did not answer the door.

Perhaps a minute after the two girls walked away, the woman heard the doorbell again. She peered through the peephole once again and this time saw two men outside the door. Again, she ignored the doorbell, thinking that the two were more solicitors. However, this time the two did not just walk away. One of the men walked across the porch to a nearby window that opened into the front room. The window was open and he immediately began climbing through the screen into the home. The woman began screaming and ran to another part of the house. She turned and saw the male climbing back outside and she had the presence of mind to realize that the two burglars might try to enter through the back door, which was unlocked as well, or one of the other open windows. She ran to the back of the house and began locking up before calling police.

She was not hurt and nothing was taken. For many police officers and security professionals, this would seem like a relatively minor offense. After all, it is a property crime and no one was hurt. However, my friend's mother was extremely upset afterwards. She would not stay home alone and insisted that an alarm system be installed. The family even considered buying a firearm for protection. In short, she no longer felt safe in her home.

The good news is that the police caught the suspects a few days later. All four were working together, with the girls checking on which homes were empty for the two men who were following and would commit the burglary.

Burglary crime prevention tips usually focus on how to protect yourself when no one is home. This case though points out the risks when you are home during a burglary. Some crooks are so brazen that they will enter a home in the early evening during dinner and sneak to bedrooms or other areas, searching for valuables. These thieves have found that homes are often unlocked in the evening, but these thieves are a rare breed and target large, upper-scale homes.

Most burglars who encounter an occupant will be just as upset or even scared as the victim. And that could be dangerous too, if the burglar resorts to violence in a panic.

So, what should a homeowner do, if you happen to surprise a burglar in your home?

1.     Prevention. Keep doors locked even when at home. If you want open windows, an ideal solution would be to block or lock the window where it is only open enough for air flow, but not large enough for someone to come in.

2.    Plan. Think through your plan in advance. Ask a couple of simple what-if questions about how to respond if you encounter a burglar. It is no different from thinking about how you would escape during a fire.

3.    Create a “safe” room. Set up a location where you can escape to, if you cannot leave the home. A room with a sturdy lock and a phone is ideal so you can call for police. If you are comfortable with the idea, you may keep a gun here for protection as well. Most crooks, as in the case above, will leave once they realize they’ve been discovered. However, some may try to corner the homeowner and this becomes a very dangerous situation. In fact, it is no longer a burglary, but a robbery, and the victim could be in danger. If the crook knows you are barricaded in a room, the police are on the way and you are armed, then they may very likely leave in a hurry.

4.    Stay calm. It is easy to say, but harder in a real-life scary situation. Take deep breaths and stay focused on what you need to do. Having a plan will definitely help as you will be following steps you already thought about. Ultimately, your mind and ability to outthink the crook is your best weapon and best defense.

Realizing the potential risks and thinking through the steps you will follow helps you survive a chance encounter with a burglar.

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Learn self-defense for your business with Eric Smith’s new book, Workplace Security Essentials! Every aspect of protecting a workplace is compared to a self-defense skill taught to budding karate students, all in a practical and entertaining style, drawing on Eric’s law enforcement and security experience.

Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces. To learn more email Eric at businesskarate dot com.


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