What To Do if Someone Breaks in Your Home

by Joel Manansala

As a homeowner, the thought of someone breaking into your house can be extremely unsettling.

Having a contingency plan is crucial in case this happens.

In this blog, we'll discuss how to handle a break-in, from prepping ahead of time to what action to take during and after the break-in.

Where and When Do Break-ins Occur Most?

Break-ins can happen at any time and in any place, but some locations and times may be more vulnerable to break-ins than others.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), most burglars attack during the day, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

This is because most people are at work or school during these hours, leaving their homes unoccupied and vulnerable.

Burglars often target homes that appear empty or unoccupied.

That said, some burglars prefer to break in at night, when it's easier to remain undetected. They may also assume residents are asleep and less likely to notice any suspicious activity.

Residential homes located in isolated areas are more likely to be targeted than commercial properties, as remote locations are less likely to have neighbors or witnesses nearby.

Homes in higher-end neighborhoods or with visible signs of wealth, such as expensive cars or landscaping, are vulnerable to a break-in. Burglars may assume these homes have valuable items inside and are worth the risk.

It's also worth noting that thefts may happen more frequently during certain times of the year, like during the holiday season, when people are often away from home.

Before a Break-in

The best way to handle a break-in is to prepare for it before it happens. Here are some steps you can take to prepare yourself and your home:

Be Prepared and Plan Ahead

  1. Install a security system. One of the most effective preventive measures is to set up a home security system. A visible security camera has been shown to minimize the risk of a thief breaking in. There are many security systems available, ranging from simple alarms to sophisticated setups that include smart cameras, motion detectors, and other features.

  2. Make sure to secure all entry points. This includes the front and back doors, windows, and even the fire escape. Install good-quality locks and deadbolts for exterior doors.

  3. Ensure that all the doors and windows are locked, especially when you're not at home.

  4. Keep your valuables, like jewelry and important documents, in a safe place that is not easily accessible.

  5. Ensure that you have a well-defined strategy in the event of a burglary. This includes knowing the layout of your home, having a designated safe room, and establishing a method of communication with law enforcement and other family members.

Practice Your Plan

  1. Schedule a family meeting to review your plan. Ensure everyone understands it and knows what to do in case of a break-in.

  2. Walk through your home with your family and identify the safest places to go in case of a break-in. This may include a designated safe room or a room with a phone and a lockable door.

  3. Have each family member practice calling the police and giving them the necessary information, such as your location and the number of intruders. Make sure everyone knows how to dial the emergency number and can communicate with the operator.

  4. Practice your escape route and make sure everyone knows how to safely get out of the house. Identify the best routes and make sure they are clear of obstacles. Set a meeting spot, like a neighbor's home or a nearby park.

  5. Practice staying quiet and not making any noise that could alert the intruder to your presence. Make sure everyone knows how to stay quiet and calm during a break-in.

  6. Practice using your home security system with your family. Ensure everyone knows how to arm and disarm the alarm system, as well as the appropriate course of action if the alarm goes off. Test the system to make sure it is working correctly.

  7. Practice different scenarios, such as what to do if there is more than one intruder or if someone is injured. Consider a different chain of events and adjust your plan accordingly.

  8. Review your safety plan with your family and make any necessary adjustments. This may include changing the location of your safe room or adding additional security measures.

Know How to Check for Intruders

Here are some guidelines to help you in inspecting your home for intruders:

  1. Stay calm and keep a clear head. Do not confront the intruder, as this can be dangerous.

  2. Call the police immediately if you suspect any suspicious behavior inside your property. Make sure to have a cell phone with you at all times. Stay on the line and follow their instructions.

  3. If you hear a noise, stay quiet and listen carefully. This can help you determine if there is an intruder in your home.

  4. Turn on the lights in your home to make it easier to see any suspicious activity. Outdoor lighting can be helpful in low visibility.

  5. If the power is out or you do not want to turn on the lights, use a flashlight to help you see in the dark.

  6. Check all doors and windows to see if they have been tampered with or forced open. If you find an opened door or a broken window, do not enter the room or area. Instead, wait for the police to arrive.

  7. Listen carefully for any sounds, such as footsteps or voices, indicating someone’s presence in your home.

  8. Use a mirror to check around corners or areas that are not easily visible.

  9. Stay in a safe place until the police arrive. Ensure that you have a designated safe room with a locking door.

During a Break-in

Stay Calm

It is important to stay calm and keep a clear head during a break-in. This can help you make the right decisions and take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family.

Find a Good Hiding Spot

If you can, hide in a safe place and try to stay out of sight. This may include a closet or a room with a lockable door.

Call the Police

If you can do so safely, call the police as soon as possible. Stay on the line and provide as much information as possible, including your location and the number of intruders.

If your home security system has a panic button, use it to alert the authorities and activate your alarm.

Get Out of the House

Don't confront the intruder, as this can be dangerous. Instead, focus on staying hidden and calling for help.

If the intruder finds you, be prepared to defend yourself as a last resort. Use whatever objects you have on hand to protect yourself and your family.

It will also be helpful if you have your car keys ready when you escape.

You can press the panic button on your car keys to set off the car alarm and alert neighbors.

Seek medical attention if you or anyone in your family is injured.

How to React If You Face the Intruder

The last thing you want is to come face-to-face with an intruder, especially when they are armed.

Here are some tips you can use should you face an intruder:

  1. Stay calm and keep a clear head during a break-in. This can help you make the right decisions and take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family.

  2. Avoid confrontation with the intruder if possible. Try to stay out of their way and avoid making any sudden movements that could provoke them.

  3. Maintain distance between yourself and the intruder. Move to a different room or stay behind a locked door if you can.

  4. Use a personal alarm or a whistle to create a loud noise that could scare off the intruder or attract attention from neighbors.

  5. Use any self-defense techniques you know to protect yourself. Use your body weight to push the intruder away or aim for their sensitive areas like the eyes, nose, or groin.

If you have home insurance in place, you will need to file a police report first before calling your insurance company.

Collect evidence and have pictures of your property before the incident to support your insurance claims.

6 Ways to Prevent Break-ins

Hide Expensive Items

The best defense against home invasions is to eliminate items that might make your home a target.

A telltale sign of an easy target is an overflowing mailbox and parcels piled up on the front porch. This will make crooks think the house has been unattended for a long time.

Keep expensive items out of sight from windows and doors. Burglars are more likely to target homes with visible valuables.

Upgrade Your Locks

Ensure that all your doors and windows have good-quality locks.

Deadbolts are recommended for exterior doors.

Consider installing security bars or grills on windows and doors that are vulnerable to break-ins.

Get a Dog

A dog can be an effective threat detection against break-ins.

Burglars are less likely to target a home with a dog, as they may be afraid of being caught or attacked.

Install a Security System

A home security system is one of the best ways to prevent break-ins.

Many different types of systems are available, from basic alarms to advanced setups that include cameras, motion detectors, and other features.

Keep the Lights On

Burglars prefer to operate in the dark, so keeping your home well-lit can help deter them.

Install motion-activated security lighting or floodlights around the perimeter of your home.

Get a Video Doorbell

A video doorbell can help you keep an eye on who is at the front door, even when you are not home.

This can help prevent break-ins by deterring potential burglars.

Moreover, security camera accessories can improve your security systems, such as adjustable mounts for greater viewing angles, solar panels for non-stop power, and anti-theft mounts to prevent your cameras from being tampered with.


Can you defend your home if someone breaks in?

Being prepared is winning half the battle. Keep your home secure by having a security system installed. It's also important that all entry points such as doors, windows, and even the fire escape are safe from being broken in or tampered with. Use heavy-duty locks and have an emergency plan in place.

How do you scare burglars away?

Most burglars are deterred by a visible home security system. Place your security cameras somewhere visible but not easily accessible. Another effective way to scare burglars away is by having a dog. You can also use a personal alarm or a whistle to create a loud noise that could scare off the burglar or attract attention from neighbors.

Will burglars hurt you?

Burglars may hurt you if they break into your property. As much as possible, do not get into a confrontation with them. While data shows that burglars are more likely to leave if they find out someone is home, do not attempt to confront them yourself, as this can be dangerous. Instead, focus on calling the police and finding a safe place to hide.

What are burglars most afraid of?

Burglars are afraid of getting caught or being seen. Most of them try to avoid confrontation and prefer to break into homes when no one is home. An effective way of scaring off burglars is to have a visible security system in place.

Where do burglars go first?

Burglars typically go first to areas of the home where they are likely to find valuable items that can be quickly and easily taken. This could be the master bedroom, where they assume all the valuables are hidden; the living room, where all the electronics are; the home office, where expensive computers are located; the kitchen for expensive appliances; and the garage, where tools, bicycles, or cars are.

What attracts burglars to homes?

Burglars are often attracted to homes that appear unoccupied or have easy access to valuable items. Homes without visible security systems or security measures, such as surveillance cameras, are more attractive to burglars. Other things that will make your home a target include, unlocked doors or windows, valuable items left in plain sight, unkempt property, and lack of lighting.

How do burglars know you aren't home?

Here are several indicators that burglars may use to determine that you are not home:

  1. Absence of vehicles in the driveway or garage.

  2. Unkempt lawn and overgrown landscaping.

  3. Lights that are always off.

  4. No signs of activity or movement inside or outside the house.

  5. Accumulated mail, newspapers, or packages on the doorstep or mailbox.

To improve your home security setup, check out Wasserstein’s collection of mounts, solar panels, floodlights, and more!

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