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Home Security Store has publishes this 16-page guide on what to do if a burglar is in the house and so are you.
SECURITY BREACH A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You A safety resource brought to you by Home Security Store www.homesecuritystore.com Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You Table of Contents Introduction: Kim’s Burglary Stories. 3 Someone Is in Your House. How to React. 4 It’s Not You They Want. Steering Clear of a Thief. 5 To Make Noise or Not to Make Noise? Letting the Burglar Know You Are There. 7 Keep Cool. Ensuring Your Safety and Your Family’s Safety. 9 Coming Face-to-Face. Interacting with an Intruder. 10 Reporting the Crime. What You Need to Say. 11 Your Safety Kit. Relying on Five Small Items that Will Make a Big Difference. 13 BONUS: Preventing a Break-in, a Checklist. 14 Sources. 15 www.homesecuritystore.com 2 Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You Introduction: Kim’s Burglary Stories. Kim, a 32-year-old mother of a young boy, lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and has had more than her fair share of close calls with burglars. Her first experience was as she left the house for work one morning only to find a man in her car. “Everything moved in slow motion,” she said. “I started yelling at the man to get out of the car. I’m not even sure what I said. It was an automatic reaction.” Luckily, she spooked the man. He ran away and left the car behind. The next event came a couple years later after Kim and her husband finished renovations on their house. She returned from running errands, placed her shopping bags on the counter, and then heard the sound of a window breaking in the basement. “It was clearly not my husband down there,” she said. “I immediately grabbed my phone and called 911.” The police arrived within minutes, and after investigating the scene and learning that the thieves stole cash, jewelry, and cameras, they presumed it was an inside job. In other words, they thought the burglar (or bur- glars) was someone who had already been inside Kim’s home, such as a friend or hired hand. The most recent forced-entry happened late at night after a University of Wisconsin football game. “We were all sleeping, and I woke up to the sound of someone trying to get in through our French doors, which didn’t lock properly,” she said. “As I came around the corner I saw a figure coming through the door. I immediately went to my son’s room. My instinct has always been to defend my home by any means possible, but since my son’s birth, my instinct is now to be with him.” Kim’s husband called the police, and while on the phone with 911, he yelled at the intruder that the police had been called. The intruder left. It turned out to be an intoxicated college student who had mistaken the residence for her own. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that close to 3.2 million homes and vehicles are burglarized in the United States every year. In the next several pages you will learn what to do if your home happens to be one of them. Just like Kim, you need to know how to react fast. www.homesecuritystore.com 3 Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You Someone Is in Your House. How to React. There’s quite a bit of home safety information out there, but much of that information is vague and not in- structive for what to do if you are home during a burglary. That’s why Home Security Store interviewed two police officers to sift through the nonsense and get to the bottom of the burglary safety issue. What we learned from our interviews with Nancy Castillo, Police Services Representative at the Riverside, California Police Department, and Gordon Neuenfeldt, Crime Prevention Deputy Sheriff in Jefferson County, Colorado, is that no two burglaries are the same. No two criminals are the same. No two homes are the same. Simply put, you can’t take one piece of home safety advice and apply it to all break-in situations. But, accord- ing to Castillo and Neuenfeldt, there is one thing you can do to prepare: come up with possible scenarios. Safety Step 1 Discuss Possible Scenarios with Your Family in Advance “There are no guaranteed plans for a break-in, but having a plan before it ever happens is the best strategy,” says Castillo. “Create ‘what if’ scenarios and discuss them with your family. There may be a time when it would be beneficial to hide and barricade yourself; another time making noises could be beneficial.” As part of the possible break-in scenarios you come up with, it’s important to think about weapons and fight- ing back. This isn’t a pleasant thought or a situation that most of us will ever have to deal with, but, again, it doesn’t hurt to at least consider what you would do. “If you were to take a poll of people in any given room and ask them what they would use to defend them- selves against a burglar, you’d get everything from screams to golf clubs to nothing but sitting in the fetal position, and none of these answers are wrong,” says Neuenfeldt. He went on to explain that any previous training you’ve had, as well as your fight or flight instincts, will likely kick-in during a burglary. You will probably react quickly without giving too much thought to the details. This is proof that a series of plans will help you switch into automatic pilot during a high-stress situation like a burglary. www.homesecuritystore.com 4 Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You It’’s Not You They Want. Steering Clear of a Thief. USA on Watch, the Neighborhood Watch Program-National Sheriffs’ Association, estimates that two out of three burglaries occur on residential properties, and that close to 60% of those break-ins occur during the day, when it’s assumed the occupants are away at work. While reassuring, that still leaves 40% of break-ins occurring in the evening or early morning hours when we’re often home…and vulnerable. Fast Fact: You Are Most at Risk on a Monday A Rutgers University study found that burglars are most active during July, August, and September. Burglars are also most likely to break into a home on a Monday and least likely to break into a home during the weekend. Safety Step 2 Get Out of the Way If you hear or see an intruder in your home, get out of the way. That means three things: 1. Never stand between an intruder and an exit, especially the door or window that the intruder entered. (We’re all creatures of habit.) 2. If there is a safe way to exit your home, get out and run to a neighbor’s house to call 911. 3. If you cannot leave your home, put one or more doors between you and the intruder. Consider a bathroom within a bedroom, especially if the door locks and you can place heavy furniture against it. Protecting your belongings and making sure the intruder “gets caught” are not nearly as important as your safety. Again, get out of the way! www.homesecuritystore.com 5 Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You Burglars Don’t Want You. They Want the Goods! Neuenfeldt says that 60% to 85% of burglaries in Colorado’s Jefferson County are a result of unlocked ve- hicles and homes. He also says that thieves are typically opportunistic and looking for an easy job. “Most thieves don’t want to be seen or heard; they want to make their entry and exit as quick as possible so they don’t get caught,” he says. When You Come Home to an Intruder … If you arrive home and notice that something is amiss, don’t enter. Instead, head to a neighbor’s residence and call 911. If you notice a suspicious vehicle, remember to write down a vehicle description and any other details for the police. www.homesecuritystore.com 6 Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You To Make Noise or Not to Make Noise? Letting the Burglar Know You Are There. One thing is certain: It is not safe to confront an intruder. As you learned in the previous section, the best thing you can do is get out of your home or move to a part of your home separate from the burglar. Safety Step 3 Assess, Barricade, Make Noise Assess the Situation Quietly When you first realize that someone is in your home, keep quiet and listen. Can you tell how many people are in your home? Can you tell where they are in your home? While remaining quiet, grab your cell phone and your family members and move to a safe place in your home. Build a Barricade If you need to remain in your home to stay safe, push furniture or other large objects in front of a door, prefer- ably one that locks. Make a Noise Once you are in a relatively safe place and have dialed 911, let the intruders know you are home by making a noise. Throwing a heavy boot on the floor or using your car keys to honk the horn may be all the noise you need to scare off an intruder. If you are in bed and wake up to an intruder in your bedroom, pretend to be sleeping. Do not speak to the intruder unless he approaches you. Again, it’s best to let the intruder gather items and be on his way. When You Are Inside and a Potential Intruder Is Outside… Let’s say you are inside and notice someone outside your home acting suspicious. Take these four steps to scare off the would-be intruder: 1. Turn on both outdoor and indoor lights. 2. Make a loud noise. For example, crank up the stereo for a couple seconds or drop a dish. Do anything to make it clear that you are home. 3. Yell loudly to someone inside the house, even if it’s an imaginary friend. 4. Call 911. www.homesecuritystore.com 7 Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You Keep Cool. Ensuring Your Safety and Your Family’’s Safety. You will be better able to interact with an intruder and law enforcement and to support your family if you keep a level head. Safety Step 4 Remain Calm In times of turmoil, remember these tips: • Breathe deeply and slowly. • Rub the fleshy area of your hand between your thumb and forefinger. This is an acupressure point that induces calmness and reduces fear. • If your mind goes blank or you start to feel panic setting in, sit down and count to ten. • Remain quiet. Nervous chatter won’t put anyone at ease. • If you must interact with the burglars and it is obvious they have a gun or other weapon, do what they tell you to do (more on this in the next chapter). In addition to keeping yourself calm, reassure your family members that everything will work out fine. Remind them to follow all of the above tips as well, especially the tip about doing what the intruder says to do. You never know what kind of criminal you are dealing with. He may be inexperienced and trigger happy, un- der the influence of drugs or alcohol, mentally unstable, or downright ruthless. This is exactly why you should steer clear of thieves who break into your home and why you should do exactly what they say to do. Fast Fact: Add Peace of Mind with a Security System A 2008 Rutgers University study found that with the increased installation of security systems in particular neighborhoods came a decreased occurrence of burglaries in those same neighborhoods. This proves that simply having an alarm system installed can help keep you safe. www.homesecuritystore.com 8 Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You Coming Face-to-Face. Interacting with an Intruder. Ideally you would not come face-to-face with an intruder. It’s your goal to get out of the way, whether that means running out the door, safely climbing out a window, or barricading yourself in a locked room. However, there may be a situation when you come face-to-face with the burglar. Do you know what you would do in that situation? Safety Step 5 Protect Yourself and Your Family Speaking Calmly and Negotiating While it might not seem like it in the moment, a burglar is a person just like you and me. He may be willing to speak with you if it means he gets what he wants. Stay calm and offer to give him any valuables you have, including the cash in your wallet. Defending Yourself Physically If the intruder shows physical aggression, you will want to fight like you’ve never fought before. Throw ob- jects. Kick and punch the burglar in the knees, groin, and throat. Disarm him and use the weapon against him. Use your own weapons to injure and stop him. Of course, guns and knives are options, but heavy flashlights, lamps, baseball bats, golf clubs, and kitchen utensils can also work as weapons. Shooting an Intruder Every state has different laws for defending yourself against intruders. It’s up to you to learn your rights in the place you live. Suffice it to say that you will probably have the right to shoot an intruder, but only if you feel your life or the life of someone else is at risk. You cannot shoot an intruder for stealing a television, but you may be able to shoot an intruder for coming at you with a gun. “Remember you may have to explain to authorities your reasons for using a weapon to defend yourself or for shooting an intruder,” says Castillo. When the Safest Place Becomes the Least Safe Place… If the intruder tries to break through a barricaded door that you are hiding behind, yell to the intruder that you have called the police and that you have a weapon. If he continues to try to come through the door, prepare to fight the intruder and use a weapon. At this point, it is clear that the burglar means business. www.homesecuritystore.com 9 Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You Reporting the Crime. What You Need to Say. Aside from getting out of an intruder’s way, the second most important thing to do during a break-in is to call 911 as soon as you can. Use a cell phone to call the police because land lines can be cut or the intruder could listen to the call on another extension. Even if you have a security system installed, it’s important that you still call 911. Safety Step 6 Call 911 and Provide Details According to Nancy Castillo, all callers are asked a standard set of questions, which helps the 911 dispatcher prioritize the call and provide necessary information to the responding police, fire, and/or ambulance per- sonnel. Answering these questions will not delay the arrival of the authorities. There are four categories of information that must be addressed: 1. Location. Where do emergency personnel need to go? Reporting this information first is important in case the telephone is disconnected before the call is completed. Even though the 911 monitor in dispatch will display the address and telephone number where you are calling from, the dispatcher must verify this information. Plus, you may be calling from an address other than the one where the problem is located. In addition to location, give your phone number to the dispatcher. 2. Emergency or non-emergency. Is anyone injured or about to be injured? What happened? 3. Vehicle description. 4. Individual description. Castillo says that you should not hold any information back when on the phone with the dispatcher. Provide as many details as you can. Fast Fact: Intruders Are Typically Men According to the City of Palm Springs Police Department website, the majority of burglars are local teenage boys. While some women have been found guilty of breaking and entering, it is more common for men to commit a burglary. www.homesecuritystore.com 10 Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You Reporting the Crime USA on Watch has published q What happened a complete list of items you q When it happened should note when witnessing a crime or suspicious activity. q Where it occurred (note the nearest cross When you call 911, and when street, home address, or landmark in you speak with police about relationship to the event) the events, be prepared to q Whether injuries are involved provide details. USA on Watch q Whether weapons are involved recommends that you be ready to explain the following: You will need to describe q License plate number and state, make the event once again to the and model of vehicle, color, and officers who arrive at your approximate year home, possibly even more q Special designs or unusual features, such than once. You will also need as vinyl top, mag wheels, body damage, to describe any vehicles and pinstripes, etc. the individual(s). Specifically, USA on Watch recommends q Direction of travel you be prepared to report the following: q Sex. Race. Age. Height (estimated from eye contact level measured against your height). Weight. Hair. Facial Hair. Voice details characteristics. matter q Hat. Shirt/tie. Coat/jacket. Trousers. Shoes. q Any peculiar or distinguishable mannerisms, physical disabilities, disfigurations, scars, or tattoos. q Direction of movement. www.homesecuritystore.com 11 Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You Your Safety Kit. Relying on Five Small Items that Will Make a Big Difference. If there is an intruder in your home, you only have a few seconds to react. That’s why you need to keep these five items on, in, or near your nightstand at all times. Safety Step 7 Keep Safety Tools Close Big Flashlight What if the power is out? What if you don’t want to turn on a light? A heavy flashlight can light the way to a safe, locked closet, and you can also use it to throw at or hit an intruder. Charged Cell Phone Your cell phone is your number-one asset. Call 911 as soon as you can. Emergency Fire Ladder An emergency fire ladder makes good sense for fire safety, and it’s also useful for a burglary situation. If you are trapped on the second floor of your home and feel that you are reasonably safe making a run for it, an emergency ladder would allow you to get out of your home and run for help. Car Keys Keeping your car keys close will do two things. First, it might prevent the burglar from stealing your car. Sec- ond, if it seems appropriate, hit the alarm button on your key ring to set off your car’s alarm. The loud noise just might be enough to startle the intruder and send him on his way. A Weapon Remember that any heavy household object can be used as a weapon in addition to guns, knives, and pep- per spray. Also remember that any weapon can be used against you; even trained police officers have their weapons taken from them and used against them. It’s recommended that if you choose to arm yourself with a gun or other weapon that you must know how to use the weapon like an expert. So, if you own a gun, practice shooting it often. www.homesecuritystore.com 12 Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You BONUS: Preventing a Break-in, a Checklist. As mentioned earlier, the majority of burglaries occur while no one is home, and most entries happen via open doors and windows. That means that you may be able to prevent a burglary from happening in the first place. Follow these tips to keep your home safe: ü Keep blinds and shades closed. ü Close garage doors quickly after opening them. What you have in your garage is indicative of what you have in your home, and people are paying attention. ü Trim trees so there are no branches below five or six feet. ü Trim bushes so they do not reach windows. ü Install motion detector lighting in the front and back of home. ü Reinforce door locks with longer, tougher screws than what come in the package. A 3 ½ inch screw works best. ü Install strike plates on doors and reinforce with screws 1 ½ inches long. ü Lock all windows and doors, including the door leading to the garage. ü Use a “Charlie Bar” to secure sliding glass doors. ü Never leave car keys in a car or in a garage. ü Install a home security system. Thank you to Deputy Sherriff Gordon Neuenfeldt of the Jefferson County, Colorado Sherriff’s Office for shar- ing these home safety tips. www.homesecuritystore.com 13 Security Breach: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You Sources. “Controlling Anger Before it Controls You.” American Physiological Association. http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx# Criminal Victimization, 2009. October 2010. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv09.pdf Home Burglaries, Crime Prevention. City of Palm Springs. http://www.ci.palm-springs.ca.us/index.aspx?page=929 Kus, Lindsay. “Fatal Mistakes: What To Do If A Burglar Is In Your Home.” Fox 17. May 8, 2012. http://www.fox17online.com/news/fox17-secrets-of-a-burglar-what-to-do-if-a-burglar-is-in-your- home-20120508,0,6504622.story Lee, Seungmug PhD. 2008. “The Impact of Home Burglar Alarm Systems on Residential Burglaries.” The School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers. “Neighborhood Watch - An implementation manual for citizens and law enforcement.” USA on Watch. http://www.usaonwatch.org/assets/publications/WatchManual.doc “Preventing Burglaries – How to Protect Your Home.” USA on Watch. http://www.usaonwatch.org/assets/publications/HomeSecurityBooklet.pdf Thompson, Cheryl W. “Guns used to kill police officers: Where they come from and how they get in the hands of criminals.” The Washington Post. November 21, 2010. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/20/AR2010112002865. html?hpid=topnews www.homesecuritystore.com 14
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