Having an intruder enter your home is most people’s worst nightmare. In fact, the very idea of someone breaking into your house is probably so frightening that you’d prefer not to even consider it.
Still, while it’s unpleasant to think about, it’s also important to be prepared so you can react quickly and appropriately if someone enters your home without your permission. Making a plan in advance for how to react to an intruder could save your life or help you secure your property. Take the time today to think about what you’d do if the worst happens and someone breaks in and you’ll be prepared if the worst ever does happen.
What to do if you’re alerted to an intruder when you’re not home
If you’re not home, but have a security system, you may still be alerted to the presence of an intruder. When and if this happens, there are a few key steps you should take:
- Try to verify the presence of the intruder if possible: False alarms can happen, so ideally you’ll want to make sure that a burglar is actually in your home before you take action. Many alarm systems have home security cameras so review the footage to see what’s going on. If you spot someone inside, you know you have an issue — but if you see your pet triggered the alarm by bumping into a door sensor, you don’t have to worry.
- Alert the right people: If your security cameras show a false alarm, let your alarm monitoring company know — if you have one. Many alarm systems include third party monitoring systems so professionals receive alerts and take action. You don’t want the monitors to alert the police to a false alarm so contact them ASAP. But, if there actually is a burglar or you can’t verify what set your alarm off, it’s a good idea to call the police. Your third-party monitoring company will also alert the authorities for you, but calling yourself and checking to make sure the police are responding isn’t a bad idea.
- Wait for word: You don’t want to go home and confront the burglar yourself as you could be walking into a dangerous situation. You should wait for the police to give you the all-clear to return home or to update you on whether the burglar has been apprehended or vacated the premises.
If the intruder did damage to your home or stole your possessions, you must file a police report and alert your homeowner’s insurance company. This will help ensure that you can get property and household items replaced or repaired.
What to do if you’re home when an intruder breaks in
If you’re home when an intruder comes, you’re in a much more precarious position because you’re now at risk of a confrontation. As a homeowner, you have no idea if the intruder is armed or if the intruder will attempt to harm you so protecting your personal safety should be your top priority.
Some of the steps you should take when an intruder enters if you’re home include:
- Leave the home if you can: If you’re able to get out of the house safely, do so in order to avoid confrontation. You don’t want to take the risk of getting hurt by a violent intruder. Look for any possible exit, such as windows you could climb out of.
- Hide or retreat to a safe room: If you have a secure room in your house you can go to, do so ASAP. If you don’t, try to find somewhere to hide so the intruder isn’t likely to find you during his or her perusal of your home.
- Secure your children: If you have kids, you should lock the doors of their rooms or help them to hide. Encourage children to be quiet so they don’t come to the attention of intruders.
- Gather any weapons available to you: If you have access to weapons in the home, get them ASAP. While different states have different rules regarding when you can use force, you generally have the right to defend yourself if an intruder is threatening you or your children with bodily harm.
- Notify the authorities: If you have a security system, you may have a panic button you can hit or you may have a special alarm code you can enter that alerts your monitoring service something is wrong. You could also try to phone the police if you have access to a phone and can do so without worry about the intruder hearing you and discovering your location. Another option is to use the text-911 function on your phone, which was originally created for the hearing-impaired.
It is easier to take these steps if you have advanced plans in place. You should talk with your family about what you’ll do if an intruder comes into your home and may even want to practice with children so they’re prepared for where to go and how to react.
Ways to increase your home security and keep intruders out
It’s far better to be proactive about keeping intruders out of your home than to react once they’ve already entered. Fortunately, by making your home a more secure place, you can significantly reduce the chances of unlawful entry. Some of the steps you should take to make your home more secure include:
- Using motion activated lights around your home’s perimeter.
- Installing a monitored security system and placing signs on your property to alert potential criminals to the presence of an alarm.
- Installing doorbell cameras and motion-activated cameras around your property.
- Planting prickly shrubs around your home to make it more difficult for intruders to enter.
Read our full guide on what burglars look for when selecting a house.
Be prepared in case a break-in occurs
Hopefully, you now have a plan in place to react to intruders and you’ve learned some steps you can take to make your home less attractive to those who might want to break in and do harm to your home or take your property. That’s good news, because being prepared is the best way to increase your peace of mind and to ensure you react the right way if an intruder ever breaks into your home.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.