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What to Do: How to Handle a Burglary When at Home

I think we can all agree that, in terms of home security, the worst case scenario is to have your home robbed or burglarized while you or a family member are actually in the house. Let’s discuss this troubling occurrence and what is the best way to handle a burglary while you are at home.

how-to-handle-burglary-when-you-are-homeA special report from the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that 3.7 million household burglaries occurred each year between 2003 and 2007. But even more troubling was the finding that a household member was present during approximately one million burglaries, with an average of 266,650 becoming victims of violent burglaries in their homes. With violent intrusions accounting for more than seven percent of all home burglaries, it’s a legitimate fear for homeowners.

To help homeowners stay safe during a burglary, the Electronic Security Association (ESA) offers these tips.

What to do if you suspect an intrusion

Should you suspect someone has entered your home, it’s important to act quickly. First and foremost, do not attempt to apprehend the burglar yourself. If you’re near your home security system, press the emergency alarm to notify your alarm monitoring company that you require immediate assistance. If you are not close to the alarm panel or your home isn’t equipped with a monitored system, everyone in the home should immediately, and quietly, move to a pre-arranged safe place.

A neighbor’s home is an ideal safe place – but only if you are able to exit inconspicuously. If you’re on an upper level or cannot leave without encountering the burglar, grab your cell phone and quietly get your family into a hiding spot such as a closet or crawl space. Once your family is in place, call 911 and keep the operator on the line. Stay quiet in the safe space until police arrive or until you are certain the assailant has left your home.

What to do if you encounter a burglar in your home

Should you be discovered by the burglar before getting to a safe place, don’t panic or make any sudden movements. Avoid looking the intruder in the eyes as he or she may interpret it as an act of aggression. Keep your hands at shoulder-level and visible to the criminal. Comply with demands and allow the burglar to leave with your possessions – nothing is worth losing your life.

In a life-threatening situation, try to escape before resorting to violence because the burglar usually has the upper hand in these situations. Additionally, attract attention by screaming or making loud noises but no matter what, never agree to go to another location with the burglar. It is likely the assailant will take you to an isolated location where you will be unable to escape or call for help.

If you’re face-to-face with the burglar, take mental notes of his or her physical appearance (height, build, hair, eye color, ethnicity, distinct markings) and mannerisms (accent, walking style) so that you can give a description to police.

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