It’s important to understand that home invasions frequently start with something innocuous: a knock at the door. If you’re not expecting anybody, A lot of people want to ignore it. But in reality, if a criminal wants to steal something, they often knock on the door first.”When they don’t hear an answer, they think the coast is clear. Bam! All of a sudden they’re coming in, or they’re kicking in the door.
- Guardnow advises that adults respond in a way that suggests that there’s a full house, even if there isn’t. You can have your own go-to line, but anything along the lines of “Hey, would someone check the door?”, or “One second – let me get my husband” would do the trick.
- If you can, draw attention to your home. Set off the home alarm, your car alarm or flip on all the lights. This will deter criminals, as most of them aren’t willing to be seen.
- If you can do so without being seen, try and observe the stranger so you can get a description, perhaps through a second-floor window or a security camera feed.
- If you still can’t identify the visitor, Guardnow says, call 911 and tell them about the stranger at your door.
If the Intruder is in Your Home
The situation escalates if the stranger’s already made it inside. The thought alone is alarming, but you can prepare yourself simply by running through this scenario in your head. The mind prepares the body, as Guardnow points out.
- Your first course of action should be to get out of the house immediately. If there’s a front door, back door or window, get as far away as possible. Once you’re in a safe place, call 911. In serious situations, you might need to consider escaping even if it means you’re likely to hurt yourself. One injury is nothing compared to your life.
- If escape is out of the question, barricading yourself might be an option. Keep in mind that many interior doors aren’t especially sturdy, so the best places to hide are areas of the home with heavy, locking doors where you won’t be detected.
- Whether you’re barricaded or not, try to arm yourself with a de facto personal weapon. A baseball bat, a frying pan, a knife, it doesn’t have to be a firearm. In case you encounter the intruder, do the best you can to fight back. Plan to strike weak points like the face, neck and eyes.
- Once you’ve exhausted all possibilities of flight or hiding, call 911. No matter what, a response from 911 is going to take some time. You need to protect yourself as much as possible before calling 911.
If you can, try to observe details about the intruder so you can provide a description to the authorities later on. Details like clothing, gender, age, race, which direction they came from or departed toward, car description and license plate number are all potentially helpful.