What to do before and amidst a burglary?
Burglaries have a tendency to happen at the most unexpected of times, don’t they? One moment everything is fine and glittery, but the next thing you know, there is a burglary, kicking in an aura of depression and tragedy.
Why do Burglaries happen?
Burglaries have become commonplace in the modern era, and a lot of factors contribute to this illegal activity becoming routine.
- First and foremost, economic pressure leads to major inflation, thus increasing the price of everyday commodities.
- Secondly, with the increasing population, unemployment has become a major issue. More people looking for a way to earn a living often leads to an increase in the number of people turning towards darker paths to achieve their goals and aspirations.
Burglary and theft are among those darker paths!
As per the FBI statistics, there were an estimated 1,515,096 burglaries in 2016 - a huge number on its own. It was also found that almost 65% of the burglaries happened during the daytime, between 6am-6pm, while the most common hours for incidents were found to be between 10am-3pm.
What is the Purpose of this Guide?
The purpose of this guide is to help you identify when a burglary is happening, and how you should react if you somehow end up being involved in one. This includes witnessing a robbery, or being victim to one as well. Not only that, we will also comprehensively discuss how various demographics such as children, youngsters, or elders should react in case of an encounter with a robbery. Students, local as well as international ones who are studying abroad, should know the proper authorities to contact if the need arises. Break-ins are never pleasant and everyone should be given the most basic knowledge as to how to react and perform in such tense situations.
How to identify a Burglary?
Let us start with the first step in any unfortunate burglary and break-in, which is the identification. It could come from a hunch, intuition, or from an observation. The next and most important factor are to act on these intuitions and take the necessary measures to determine if the threat actually exists! If the signs inidicate something weird is happening in your neighbor’s house or in your own house, it is your duty to act upon it. That doesn’t just include your friend’s house or your place; it includes all the houses in the neighborhood.
General Rules for Everyone!
The effective measures, such as contacting the authorities, are only practical when the potential burglars have not confronted the residents yet. If the confrontation happens, then the residents need to be much more cautious in their actions.
Don’t Search for the Robbers
If you are in the house and you detect an intrusion, but the confrontation has not occurred yet, it is absolutely unadvisable to go and search for the robbers. You might feel like the hero who saves the day by beating down the bad guy, but please leave that stuff for the movies and comics. Your best bet is to:
Hide or Escape
Especially since you might know the layout of your own home much better than a thief does. In fact, the robbers themselves might not know that there are people in the house at that very moment, and any confrontation might end up in a violent crime.
Don’t lose your composure
If the robbery is happening and the robber confronts you, try to maintain your calm and composure. If you panic, the robbers will as well, and a panicked person will most definitely end up doing something irrational. So try to clear your head if such a situation arises.
Obey the orders
If a robber gives you specific instructions, like to raise your hands or move to a certain part of the room, do not hesitate in doing so. Remember, life is more important than material possessions, and in situations of thefts and burglaries, disobeying the assailants could result in fatalities.
Always Avoid Persuasion
Avoid trying to persuade the robber to reason, if possible. In such a situation, any external pressure will be considered as a threat, and that person might get a lot more hostile with you than he/she already is.
Don’t speak unless spoken to
In the heat of the situation, it is always advisable to avoid talking to the burglar unless spoken to first. There is no need to grow a conscience at such a time. And if you are in fact inclined to talk, avoid talking too much.
Honesty is the Best Policy!
More often than not, when burglaries happen, the burglars might have tips regarding where the valuables are stored in a house. So if an intruder asks regarding a specific item, such as money or gold, be honest and tell them the amount you have on you.
Try to Memorize Things!
Whenever you are victimized by burglary, or you see a burglary happening elsewhere, it is of utmost importance that you try to memorize things related to the burglar. That includes: What they are wearing , Their age , Their gender, Their height range, The color of their eyes, The clothes they are wearing, Marks on their body (scars, tattoos, piercings etc.) and The weapons they are carrying.
Guide for Elders
Getting old is a reality of life, and thus is a process which encompasses us all in it. As we grow old, our body gets feeble, and it becomes relatively difficult for us to carry out everyday chores on our own. Elder people might have difficulty moving around the house. It is important to consider the following points when it comes to elders and home security.
If an elder is inside the house when a burglary happens, they should avoid trying to physically stop any such attempt, and try contacting the respective emergency services to intervene.
Panic attacks are a common occurrence when a theft or a burglary is happening, so it is absolutely necessary to have a first aid kit in arm’s reach to avoid mishaps originating from such panic attacks.
If elderly people are living alone in a premise, it is advisable for them to have a bell or alarm buttons placed at various locations which are easily accessible so that they can be pressed in the case of an emergency, whether health related or security related.
An advisable thing for family members of elderly people is to get security alerts at their home if they aren’t physically living with them. This could keep you informed around the clock and avoid mishaps from occurring.
How to manage possessions?
Possessions should preferably be placed in bank accounts and lockers if they are deemed valuable, such as money, gold, valuable gems, etc. If there is a gun present on the premises, it is advised to keep it in a safe, concealable place so that it cannot be held against an elderly person in case of a break-in.
If you’re the witness.
If an elderly person happens to witness a burglary taking place in their surrounding or neighborhood, they should:
- Quietly try to ask the residents if they have their contact numbers, as well as contact the local authorities – so that they might intervene on time.
- Keep all emergency contacts on speed dial so that they can be called upon if the need arises.
- Avoid physical intervention at all costs, as a panicked robber might act irrationally. That could result in very unfortunate circumstances (a gunshot fired being one of them).
Precautions that can be observed beforehand!
Get a guard dog!
Dogs can help you with a lot of everyday activities, which eases the burden for elderlies and the disabled to a great extent. Getting a guard dog is a great option, especially for elders. They are great for security reasons, and burglars often tend to avoid houses which have guard dogs in them. Why?
Their increased senses can detect oddities in the atmosphere, and thus they can alert the owner, or push buzzers which can contact the relevant authorities so that timely assistance can be provided.
They are specially trained nowadays to help with timely medical assistance.
You don’t even necessarily have to own a dog in order to keep intruders at bay. You can use a guard dog sign on your premises so that unexpected guests will always be wary before probing into your property.
If you aren’t sure which guard dog breed to opt for, check our guide to the best dog breeds here.
Opt for an effective security system!
One of the best options for a house with elderly people is to have a proper security system. You always get the option of choosing between a professionally installed system OR a DIY (Do It Yourself) system.
This decision is usually based on your household needs. Both of these systems have their own pros and cons, but both will help in securing the house to a great deal. Modern security systems have advanced features which can contact the respective authorities just by a click of a button.
. That need arises only if the system fails to pick up the intrusion on itself in the first place. Plus, burglars would definitely rethink about targeting a house with proper security features installed.
This practice won’t only protect your household against intrusions - it would have a protective effect on the neighboring houses as well, since outdoor cameras used these days have advanced night vision features with long-range zooming capabilities.
FBI reports show a decrease of 4.6 percent in the number of robberies when compared with the previous year’s data. This decrease can be attributed to the increasing awareness towards modern security methods and procedures, especially effective security systems.
Guide for Children
Let us talk about the most adorable age group on this list, which of course would be children. The adorable, loveable, but unfortunately gullible children. Yes, you heard that right. As sweet and adorable as they are, they also tend to be naïve in nature, which is why they require more attention specifically. Children are especially vulnerable when left in the house alone. The two best things which can be done are:
- Leave a communication device in the house with numbers of the authorities and family members being on speed dial available for instant access.
- Teach the basics of using such electronic devices to the young ones.
Train the young ones
Training our children regarding proper safety and security measures is imperative in the modern era. Training at an earlier age instills productive habits which go a long way. The following items are among the important lessons you need to address:
- Educate your children not to brag about the family possessions or wealth. Such things will most definitely attract attention towards your household, which could lead towards a potential robbery.
- Children should be taught to keep the doors and windows locked whenever they are in the house on their own, even if it’s for a short duration. This practice would instill a very good habit in their behavior, which tends to go a long way.
- Teach your children how to operate a cellular device, in case they are on their own. With the changing era, smart devices have revolutionized the world, and it is of utmost importance to keep your family updated with their usability. Another option is to give them buzzers which can be conveniently pressed to alert the family members regarding any emergency situation including, but not limited to, home intrusions.
- Children should know how to operate the basic features of a home security system. This would enable them to turn on/off sensors in a security system, or to contact the authorities if a threat is detected via outdoor cameras installed on the premises.
- Teach children how to answer the door properly. If someone asks about the parent's whereabouts when they aren’t actually home, a child’s should not answer truthfully. Rather, children should respond by telling them that their parents are busy, and thus can’t attend to them at that time.
Pointers for caretakers
Children are often left in the care of nannies or other relatives who act as caretakers. It is their duty to act cautiously and sensibly when given the responsibility. The doors and windows should be locked promptly. Alarms should be monitored and controlled on a timely basis. It is advisable for caretakers to anticipate in advance if there is a commodity needed like diapers, food, baby wipes, etc. so they don’t have to run to the store in between duties, thus leaving the house and the children more vulnerable.
Guide for Students
This is a very diverse category, as a person can be a student in any phase of life. But the primary target audience here are the youngsters between the ages of 15 and 30. Students are usually more energetic and active, so it is of significant importance that they deal with a burglary situation tentatively, while keeping a cool and calm composure. Local students usually have a good feel for the layout of the streets, and thus can effectively contact the respective authorities if they happen to witness any such incidents. If they are involved in an incident, the general rules as discussed above should be followed.
Using codes helps!
Always designate certain code words in order to communicate with your family members. They should be hard to detect. This way, you can deliver certain messages to the respective person in order to warn them if you have to go through a ransom call, or let them in on a plan without letting the burglars know.
An important advice for international students is to keep their passports and visas in the safest place possible. If any of these documents are stolen or misplaced, they might end up facing a lot more trouble than many other people.
Train and teach
International students should be well-versed in the basic knowledge regarding who to contact in case of any emergency, including burglaries, and how to guide people for directions in their immediate areas.
Guide for Females
Men and women both represent two wheels of life. Both have their strengths and weaknesses that complement each other to form a complete household. These are among the important suggestions females need to consider in case of a burglary:
- If a confrontation with the burglars happens, avoid eye contact. Direct eye contact might be considered as an act of aggression. If asked to give them the key or password for a locker which you might have on you, obey the intruders! Remember that no material possession is worth losing your life for.
- If you haven’t been detected yet, make a plan! Some people might be good at escaping or hiding. Some housing structures be conducive to such activities, while others might not. Your plan needs to revolve around such deterrents.
- Some burglars might be sexually motivated too. To avoid assault, you should have self-defense tools at your disposal, such as an electric zapper or pepper spray. Your attitude and talk should be assertive in a confrontation, as not to depict any fragility which might be used against you.
Guide regarding maids and helpers
Taking the assistance of maids and helpers to carry out chores is a common practice for many people across the globe. Maids usually work for a couple of hours and then leave the premises. As such, it is important for them to be extra careful while entering and exiting the house. They should be aware of the surroundings of an apartment or a house, and report any suspicious activity occurring. If a burglary does happen in the presence of a maid, he/she should not panic. The should take responsibility only if there are kids present in the house. The cost of living is immensely higher than that of material possessions, and it is absolutely unadvisable to try and save the owners’ possessions by force.
Know who you’re hiring
Homeowners should be very attentive and fastidious while hiring a new maid or a nanny for their household. Proper identification and verification are important in order to safeguard the interests of both parties.
Important suggestions to consider
Forming a neighborhood watch group
Neighborhood watch plans are always practical in real life situations. People from your immediate community tend to be much more sympathetic and understanding towards the things you value the most, since they are aware of your household, the total number of members in your family, the usual activities in your household, and the overall landscape of your house.
Even if you are not at your house much, the overall appearance of your house should look lively and active so that robbers might not take it as an easier target. The front lawn should be well maintained so that everyone knows that the homeowner is quite active. The lights in your house should be on at appropriate times. You can use security systems to schedule the lights so that they turn on and off at the desired times. Not only that, you can use advanced applications on your handheld devices which let you remotely control your home security system, including lights, locks, doors, and more.
We hope that this guide was able to help you understand which measures to take if you happen to be involved in a burglary either as a victim or a witness. To protect ourselves and the people we love the most, it requires active effort and commitment. This active effort can save us a lot of hassle, and can most definitely stop an unfortunate mishap from taking place!