What to do when there is an intruder on your property
We are constantly bombarded with precautionary PSAs on which steps to take to prevent intruders from entering our properties. We set up fences, alarms and even sign up for neighbourhood patrols. Still, as practical and as comforting as these precautions are, there are times when we might be faced to deal with a situation when the intruder has already gained access. Here are a few tips to assist you in managing that scary situation.
If the Intruder is on Your Property
Once an intruder is on your property but has not yet gained access to your house, switch on all your lights and set off home and car alarms. During this time, ensure that all doors and windows are locked. This could serve as a deterrent as most criminals do not want to attract attention to their activities.
Even if you think they have been scared off, call the local police to come and inspect the surrounding area. They may be hiding away nearby, or merely just out of sight and still on the property.
The intruder made it into your house
You may feel so anxious that you “freeze” at the idea of being in the house with a criminal, but it is important that you act fast and get your family into a secure room of the house and call the police.
Staying calm in a threatening situation is easier said than done, and during this time, it is normal for an adrenaline rush to occur, making it hard to think straight. Take a few deep breaths to ground yourself. You know the layout of your home better than any outsider; where is the best place to hide?
Unless you have had professional training, avoid taking weapons as this can often make an already volatile situation more dangerous.
In the event you face the intruder, stay calm and make sure your hands are visible at all times. If the intruders should ask you where your valuables are, give the information calmly and immediately.
Can you escape?
If the intruders have entered your room, you need to assume that they are dangerous and armed. Refrain from seeking out the intruder, but instead, find a way to exit safely. Use an exit that will give you the quickest and easiest access to your neighbours or the street. Do not try to grab any “valuables”. Your safety and that of your family are the only concern you should have.
If you are unable to leave your property, get you and your family to safety by hiding in a room that can lock. As mentioned earlier, call the police, security company, neighbourhood watch, a friend or neighbour.
Most neighbourhood watch groups have WhatsApp messaging groups, and they can react or notify your local armed response.
In the unlikely event that you do not have a phone with you, try to be as quiet as possible and find alternative hiding spots in the room or consider the possibility of exiting through the window, if possible.
ALWAYS call the police
Don’t be a hero. Whether you managed to hide, or you have escaped from your home safely, call the police. Remember to speak clearly while answering all questions to the dispatcher who is handling your call. Important things to mention are:
- Address and nature of your emergency;
- Your name and contact number;
- Your location and that of your family; and
- Any details of the intruder you have noticed.
If possible, stay on the line with the dispatcher till the police arrive, as this could keep you calm. Once the police arrive, whether or not the suspect/s has/have been apprehended, ensure that the police search your home before you and your family re-enter.
The iER app is a free emergency application that can be downloaded on any smartphone or tablet. It gives the user peace of mind by offering a no-cost solution for emergencies. The App is a panic button that can be used in a variety of situations to ensure that the proper response team is sent to the scene of an emergency or crime. It is a one-click solution available to everyone.
There is no membership fee to make use of the iER application, although data or a Wi-Fi connection is required. Anyone who has the App, which can be downloaded from all app stores, can make use of the emergency response facilities. This is because the App was designed to be accessible.
While it is reported that most intruders are not violent, you cannot take the risk to establish this or attempt a bravado act. As previously mentioned, always assume the intruder is dangerous and armed. Remain co-operative to avoid any possible violent reaction and appear submissive. If you managed to activate your alarm system before, the alarm company will call you to determine the situation. If the intruder/s allows/allow you to answer the call, refrain from giving the code words, and say something like, “Sam, can I call you later?” This is a phrase that you have to prearrange with your security company.
At all times, try to be alert and memorise every detail, regardless of how insignificant it seems. Voice, shoes, accent, etc could assist the police in their investigation.
If you were able to see the intruder/s, try to give a detailed description of his/their weight, height and clothing. It’ll make it easier for police to track the intruder/s.
All these steps could save your life, but it is advisable to prudent and instead find ways to improve and possibly prevent your home from being a target for criminals.
However, practising these steps in your home with your family as a safety drill can also assist in preparing everyone in the event you are faced with the situation.