A crash at the door jerks you awake at four in the morning. You lift out of bed. Startled. Confused. The room sits still and everything is pitch black. Surely you’ve imagined the noise. Nothing has taken place, has it? After a few moments you hear footsteps and whispers in the home. Someone has gained access. These burglars are rummaging through your belongings. What should you do?

While this scenario seems relatively uncommon, burglars break into homes when homeowners are present quite often. Unfortunately, according to the numbers, someone is home during one out of every three burglaries. This accounts for 28% of all burglaries, and in 7% of these instances, a violent crime occurs.

How should you respond if you’re home during a burglary? Your response will not only determine your safety, but it will also determine how quickly the situation is resolved. Here’s what you should do.

Don’t Search for the Suspect – Hide or Escape

A common reaction is to embark on a heroic mission to beat down the burglar. In the United States, many homeowners have firearms, so this is a common tactic. Though you have a better understanding of the layout of your home—which gives you an advantage—not many homeowners are trained for a tactical encounter in the dark.

Regardless of what type of weapon you’re armed with, you’ll be fighting against a suspect in the dark, and you won’t know their whereabouts, size, what they’re armed with, or where they are located. Better yet, a violent fight may be avoided if the suspect does not know you are in the home. Avoid a fight by hiding or escaping the home.

Call the Authorities

This is the most important step of the process. It would be listed number one, but it’s important to first get to a safe place before alerting authorities.

Once you’ve arrived in your discreet and safe place, call authorities and alert them of the threat. Tell them the threat is ongoing and you need police assistance immediately.

Warning Your Family? Have a Code Word

If an intruder has gained access to your home, every moment counts. Time likely isn’t on your side. You need to alert your family of the event as quickly as possible. Do so by establishing a code word far in advance. This code word is a signal that there’s danger in the home, and your children and other family members can respond accordingly by hiding or escaping.

If you can’t reach your family members to deliver the code word, send them a text message or other form of electronic communication. As we mentioned in the initial tip—since you’re hiding—it’s best to avoid causing any commotion that could give away your presence in the home.

Press the Duress Code on the Home Security System

If your home is equipped with a security alarm that is connected to a central monitoring station, the device will have a duress code. This is code on the system that works like any other code, except it alerts the monitoring station that an emergency is ongoing.

Know this code, and use it during an emergency. If the control panel for your home security system is located in a hard to reach place, be cautious looking for the device, or simply call 911.

Stay Quiet and Lock All Doors

Once in your safe place, ensure that all doors are locked and sealed shut. There should be no possible way for an intruder to access where you are hiding. After you’ve ensured that your location is sealed, remain quiet.

Don’t make any sudden noises or movements that will alert the intruder where you are. Be equipped with weapons if you have any, and strategically place yourself in the room in the event that you have to defend yourself.

Remember, a fight with an intruder should never be the chosen course of action, but there may be times where you have to defend yourself against a threat.

The Best Prevention is Security 

The surest way to prevent a burglary—and being home for one—from ever happening, is to install home security equipment.

As we’ve mention before, 60% of burglars will choose a different home if they know a security system is present. Homeowners should have signs, decals, and other warnings of their systems visible at all times.

Security systems that are monitored will also alert police of intrusions, ensuring that law enforcement responds to events.

Interested in installing home security? Speak with our security experts today.