Suffering a break-in is one of our worst fears as a homeowner, especially if family members are also present. However, the likelihood of being attacked in the home is quite rare as the vast majority of intruders are simply looking to take valuables rather than cause bodily harm.
Nevertheless, it’s imperative you’re prepared if such an event does occur. Make a plan of how you’d deal with the situation and be aware of your homeowner rights if you encounter an intruder.
If you’re made aware that someone is attempting or has already broken into your property, call the police immediately. Stay calm, describing the situation in simple language and making it clear that emergency help is needed.
Whilst you’re doing so, try and assemble all family members in the same room if possible. Don’t panic and cause unnecessary anxiety when explaining the situation, especially if children are involved. Head to a room with a lock and wait for the police to arrive.
Should you be confronted with an attacker, there are self-defence and homeowner rights you can use to protect yourself. The main thing to remember is that you are entitled to use ‘reasonable force’ to thwart an attacker, especially if you are being threatened.
Obviously, in the heat of the moment, it’s difficult to make an objective and level-headed decision about how much force is sufficient. However, as a general rule, the level of threat usually defines how much ‘reasonable force’ you’re allowed to use.
If the attacker is being violent themselves or could potentially harm your family, you have more leeway to show aggression and even use a handheld weapon. However, if the attacker has been detained or poses no threat to you, using aggressive physical force can be considered unlawful and actually leave you with a prosecution.
The court system is likely to come down on your side if you use physical force to disable or detain an intruder, especially if no lasting injury is caused to them. They often understand the delicacy of the situation, especially if loved ones were present in the home.
Of course, the best form of defence against a break-in is to establish a robust security plan to both deter criminals and make it extremely difficult to enter the building. If you incorporate monitoring capabilities into your home security equipment, this far increases the response time of a police unit.
They work with CCTV systems and burglar alarms, alerting a fast response team if a sensor or alarm has been activated. If verification of this breach can’t be made by the homeowner, or live CCTV images show an intruder is present, the emergency services will be alerted immediately.
If the worst should happen, ensure everyone in the home has a plan rehearsed so panic doesn’t set in. Keep your mobile phone close so 999 can be called and designate a safe room or hiding place to stay until the police arrive.
As intruders will often break in to steal valuables, you may interested in our clever tips for keeping valuables hidden and out of sight.