How to Stay Safe During a Burglary

Recent burglaries have been unnerving to say the least. In this post I explain a few valuable tips on what to do if a burglar breaks into your home.

Burglaries in a neighborhood allow an uneasy fear to slowly creep into our minds. They’re a grim reminder that anyone can be burglarized at any time. Some of us sleep with a baseball bat under our bed while others have gone out and bought a gun for home defense.

My purpose here is to tell you that the fear doesn’t have to control you and you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a gun you don’t need.

Don’t get me wrong; a burglar is a serious threat if they’ve made it into your home. You have no idea if they need money to fuel a drug addiction or if they’re just a kid who needs some guidance in his or her life and has no one to offer it to them. Either way, they’re a danger to you and your family.

The mistake many of us make is thinking that we need to grab our gun/ baseball bat/ knife and take care of the problem Wild West style. Movies and TV make us think that this is some faceless monster that wants nothing more than to take your valuables and possibly murder anyone who gets in their way.

We’re forgetting that this is still a human being, and human beings have fears, emotions, and thoughts.

If you hear or see someone break into your home, don’t confront him head on. Dial 911 immediately and tell him your address first so the police can mobilize as quickly as possible. Next, turn the lights on and yell, “I just called 911, quick grab my gun!” Here’s the trick: Don’t actually pull a loaded gun and start shooting.

Instead, make sure everyone is locked in his or her room away from the burglar. Even if you don’t own a gun and live alone, still yell as if there’s another person in the house who has a gun to hand you.

Like I said before, this is a human who broke into your house. A human knows that there is strength in numbers and that a gun can kill them. This should scare the burglar off, and if it doesn’t, stay locked in your room. The police are on their way and are trained to take care of this sort of situation. No material possession is worth your life, so if he’s tearing your house apart don’t even think about leaving that safe room.

If you assault that burglar with a weapon, you’re already at a disadvantage. The burglar already has adrenaline pumping through his veins from breaking in; you probably just woke up. He can easily wrestle the weapon off of you. Now you’ve just armed the person who broke into your house and he’s mad.

Instead, keep your distance. I’ve taught self-defense from surprise attackers. I’ll keep it honest and simple: Aim for the groin and run. If you can’t hit the groin, aim a kick at the knees. Structurally knees are weak and will crumple, allowing you to run and lock yourself in a room so you can call the police.

I wouldn’t suggest trying to wrestle them to the ground. In a one-on-one fight, the better wrestler will win. I know this from my Brazilian jiu jitsu training. But we have rules when we wrestle, and I can guarantee the burglar won’t follow those rules.

If he has a knife he can stab you while you fight on the ground. So as much as you want to be a hero and take the burglar down to the ground, the smartest and safest thing to do when you’re forced to confront him is to take a cheap shot and run.

I pray none of you reading this ever have to put these tips into action, but if the unthinkable happens I want you to be prepared. Your life isn’t an action movie so there’s no shame in running and hiding. We fund the police so they can train and be ready for this situation.

You don’t need a gun to stop a burglar; you just need a phone and a room to lock yourself in until the police arrive.


Editor's note: The writer is the son of Pine-Richland Patch editor Cindy Cusic Micco.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

James Dale Barrington December 23, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Daniel, writing articles like this makes me believe your mother and father may not be the only journalists in the family. Thanks for the advice. - I am alone and do not own a gun, and am more in line with talking a person down from his adrenaline rush, if possible. His anxiety comes because he doesn't know what to fear from me, - and the 'heist' falling apart, - and someone getting the vehicles license tag number he is driving. Calling 911 is expected by the intruder, and so that makes him potentially more dangerous because he is in a hurry, - but calling 911 out loud or letting your dog (I have a little Scottish Terrier) loose on him or telling him where you stash some money at may help. It would be a big plus for him not to have any fear of confronting you. Having a gun is not a deterrence, but it is more the case of someone most likely losing their life or getting seriously hurt. A community security alarm system is invaluable. -- Your concern for the intruder as a human being may be the biggest plus. There are no guarantees on how anything comes down or out when things actually happen, but when no threat is perceived by the intruder about you I'm inclined to believe it leads to a better outcome. Out of sight out of mind within a locked room is good advice.
Sally E December 31, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Hi Daniel, I'm a married, mom of two living in Pine Richland and I wanted to let you know that this article really helped me feel safer and more knowledgeable. I'm not a gun owner, nor do I plan to be one, so I appreciate having a few tips on how to stay safe in the event of a burglary without having to buy a gun. This article also left me with several ways to improve my safety at home: make sure our room locks all work (they don't at the moment, but I'll be fixing that) and make sure I bring my cell phone up to the bedroom at night (we don't have a house phone, just cells). Thank you for writing an article that is important and informative without trying to just scare us--thank you for empowering your readers! Keep up the good work!
Daniel Micco January 04, 2013 at 01:42 AM
Thanks for reading James, and thank you for adding in the extra safety tip on telling them where to go to find the valuables. That's a great way to keep them occupied and away from you until the police arrive.
Daniel Micco January 04, 2013 at 01:54 AM
I'm glad I could help you feel a bit safer Sally. I know many mothers aren't very comfortable with a gun in the house. That's one of the reasons of why I wrote this blog; to help people who don't want to buy a gun secure their homes without needing to use violence (or even confront the burglar hopefully). Good luck fixing those locks and stay safe!
Joshua Crawford January 07, 2013 at 04:45 PM
We need to think about action vs intent. Our intent is for every participant in the scenario to come out unharmed and safe, however the reality is this may not be an option. I understand that intruders are people who have feelings and problems but when they enter my home and threaten my family they forfeit all rights. By advising someone to yell “I just called 911 quick grab my gun!” then “make sure everyone is locked in his or her room away from the burglar” is a set up for failure. Let’s think about what you just did, first we let an intruder know that deadly force will be used to defend the home. Then by leaving your “hiding place” to check on your family to make sure they are locked in their place puts you in danger by walking unarmed in the open. So now we have an intruder who sees you walking down the hall to check if a door is locked and he believes you will use deadly force on him. You can play out this scenario however you like but placing myself in a fall and hide scenario is a recipe for danger. To put this plainly ruling out any sort of defense that will protect your family is just plain stupid. Your OPINION is good in theory but please leave all options on the table when it comes to protecting the ones you love from danger. Folks here are some professionals who specialize in home defense, see this for reference. The Best Defense Hand to Hand Combat
Daniel Micco January 07, 2013 at 09:11 PM
I see your point here Josh, but I'm assuming that you're a young man who is still very physically capable. I tried looking up your references but there is no working link. I'm guessing that you have some highly skilled martial artist showing how to quickly stun and disarm an enemy with hand to hand tactics. But we need to remember that these are masters of the art with years of training both in skill and in physical fitness. If someone broke into my home I personally feel confident that one on one I could take him down since I spar and train to fight on a . Fist fighting is like any other sport, you won't be good unless you practice and hone your skills. I'm writing to a broad audience here, including the elderly, disabled, and people who aren't physically strong. I don't mean to be sexist but most women are physically weaker than men, that's just how humans work. Also I never said to check on your loved ones during the burglary, your family should know to lock themselves away and try to not make noise. As for guns you could easily shoot at movement in the dark and not realize it's a family member running, or the bullet can travel through the wall and hit a loved one if you miss the burglar. I never say don't defend yourself, but don't think you have to be an action hero to do it. From my own experiences the more someone talks about how they could take people down in a fight no problem the less they actually know about fighting.
Joshua Crawford January 07, 2013 at 09:19 PM
FOR THE ELDERLY..... A 92-year-old World War II veteran shot and killed a suspected robber who attempted to break into his Kentucky home Monday morning. Two other men believed to be involved in the botched home invasion are lucky to have escaped with their lives and are now behind bars.According to police, 24-year-old Lloyd Maxwell broke into the elderly man’s basement after 2am and tried to enter the first floor of the home in Verona, Ky. The homeowner, Earl Jones, said he was startled awake by the noise coming from his basement and grabbed his .22 caliber rifle and steadied his aim on the basement door as he heard the sound of footsteps creeping up the basement stairs. When the intruder kicked in the door, Jones fired one fatal shot into Maxwell’s chest, police said. After firing the single shot, the homeowner called his neighbor, who then contacted the police.
Joshua Crawford January 07, 2013 at 09:23 PM
A Georgia mother and her two young children are unharmed after a man broke into their house with a crowbar on Friday, cornering them in an attic crawlspace. The woman was at home with her nine-year-old twins when the doorbell rang. When they didn’t answer, the man reportedly went back to his car and returned with a crowbar. The mother said she could see the suspect now identified as Paul Slater trying to enter the house with the crowbar from her office window. Without hesitation, she grabbed her children, her phone, her gun, and ran upstairs. One can only imagine the breathless moments after the man broke down the door and began searching the house. But the man eventually found the family.“The perpetrator opens that door. Of course, at that time he’s staring at her, her two children and a .38 revolver,” The woman then shot him five times, but he survived, Chapman said. He said the woman ran out of bullets but threatened to shoot the intruder if he moved. “My wife is a hero. She protected her kids. She did what she was supposed to do as a responsible, prepared gun owner,” [the woman's husband] Donnie Herman said. He said he’s thankful for his family’s safety. “Her life is saved, and her kids’ life is saved, and that’s all I’d like to say,” Herman said.
Daniel Micco January 07, 2013 at 10:58 PM
That was a veteran who shot the intruder. A veteran has training with a rifle. As a WW2 vet he also probably saw action so he knows how to handle fear. He was also willing to take the intruder's life. Many people don't want to kill, it's not in their nature. I personally have no problem with killing someone who wants to take my life, but others do have a problem with that and I respect that. I'm giving an alternative to those who want to avoid killing. That was an exceptional man, but many elderly aren't veterans and don't have that kind of training. The woman who shot the intruder did protect her family, I won't deny that. But what about those shots she fired? a .22 bullet can travel over a mile once fired. The same can be said about a .38. What if she missed? Yes the bullet would've slowed down a bit from going through a wall but it would definitely have enough force behind it to still be lethal. Imagine if one of her young neighbors were out playing and got hit by a missed shot. There's a reason hunting grounds are as far away from neighborhoods as possible. A bullet doesn't pick friendly or enemy, it's just a bullet. In a worst case scenario he could've gotten possession of that gun too. Now the cops have to deal with an armed man. Do you really want that? I believe in owning a gun but only having it for self defense can lead to some awful accidents since most people buy it with no training on how to handle it. Lethal force isn't necessary to incapacitate someone.


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