Home security tips for dealing with intruders when you're home: Internet ScamBusters #72
This month we're going to do something quite different than anything we've done before -- something we think you'll find very valuable.
Today's topic is: What to do if a burglar breaks into your home.
We've done an exclusive interview with an expert on the topic, Chris McGoey. It includes a lot of very surprising information.
In addition, we conclude with two interesting Internet ScamBusters Snippets.
OK, let's get started...
What to Do if a Burglar Breaks into Your Home
One of the most frightening things that can happen is discovering that an intruder has broken into your home -- especially when it's the middle of the night, and you know they are still there.
About 16% of American households are burglarized each year. Stated differently, a burglary occurs every 13 seconds in the United States.
And unfortunately, thousands of these crimes are committed each year while someone is at home. It certainly makes sense to know what you should do if this ever happens to you!
To help you understand your best options in this extremely scary situation, we interviewed Chris E. McGoey.
Chris is an internationally known Los Angeles-based security consultant and producer of the Crime Doctor website. He is considered to be an expert on residential security matters.
Audri: Welcome, Chris! I really appreciate your taking the time to talk with me and help our ScamBusters subscribers.
Let me begin by asking: what is the best thing you can do to avoid the break-in turning into a tragedy?
Chris: The best thing you can do is to make a plan -- before it ever happens. It's very important to think about this now -- when you are calm and there is no danger.
That's why it's so useful to alert your subscribers ahead of time with interviews like this -- so they can have a plan they hopefully will never need.
There is no single best strategy for dealing with this situation.
Audri: What is the first thing you should do in this situation?
Chris: Be very quiet so you can listen. Try to figure out how many intruders there are. Are they coming toward you? Are they ransacking your house?
If you can, stay in the room you're in and lock and barricade the door. Immediately call the police to get help on the way. Shout to the intruder that the police have been called and are en route.
Audri: What's best: should you stay in the house, confront the intruder, or leave?
Chris: Stay in your home unless the intruder tries to get into your room. Never confront the intruder unless in self-defense.
Another option is that if you can safely escape, do it. For example, if you can safely climb out a window and get help, that's great. However, if you sleep upstairs and can't leave easily, then you'll need to take a different approach.
Audri: Can you share some tips regarding what to do?
Chris: First, be prepared. Second, don't argue with your spouse about what to do -- this just alerts the intruders about where you are before you've taken any action. That's another reason to plan ahead.
Third, it's not a good idea to leave your bedroom carrying a weapon like a baseball bat or a flashlight. If you surprise the intruder, they are more likely to act violently.
Fourth, it's always good to have a safe room. It can be an interior closet with a sturdy door and a deadbolt lock on the inside. Call the police. Make sure you have a cell phone accessible from your safe room -- and make sure it's charged. You should be safe until the police arrive.
Audri: Any advice for calling the police?
Chris: Yes, call the police ASAP. You may have to use a cell phone if the intruders have disabled the phone or have taken the telephone extension off the hook.
Another tip is to be very concise and specific with the police dispatcher.
Say that someone has broken into your home, and that you don't know whether or not they have a weapon. Give your address and any instructions to get there if necessary.
Tell the dispatcher where you are (for example, upstairs in the west bedroom), and where the intruder is (downstairs in the living room).
Audri: What happens if you encounter the intruder?
Chris: Don't stay there or fight or argue... run away or barricade yourself in a room and call 911.
If that doesn't work, try to remain calm and speak in a normal voice.
Tip: Avoid direct eye contact if possible. This can be interpreted as aggressive behavior.
Audri: Should you try to protect yourself with a gun or a knife?
Chris: No. Only confront the intruder with a weapon as a last resort to save your life or a family member. Your property is not worth risking your life.
Carrying a weapon of any kind increases the chances that you or your family members will be hurt.
Audri: Is there anything you can do now to protect yourself if this situation does occur that would be helpful?
Chris: Most burglars will run away if they have wakened you -- unless they have been surprised or confronted.
Audri: What is the single most important advice you can give our subscribers?
Chris: Have a family planning meeting to decide what everyone will do during an emergency or violent intrusion. Someone should always try to escape and get help.
Also, if you have a burglar alarm system, hit the 'panic' button. Learn what to do NOW -- that's much safer than when you're truly panicked.
Audri: Chris, I'd like to thank you very much. This has been very useful. And I recommend that our subscribers visit your website for lots of other articles on home, family, and business security:
Internet ScamBusters Snippets
Don't Sign Up for the 'National Do Not E-Mail Registry'
On February 12, the FTC issued a warning against a potentially fraudulent 'National Do Not E-Mail Registry.' This "Do Not Email Registry" lets people submit their email addresses to supposedly stop getting junk email.
The site, at "unsub.us," is not run or authorized by the FTC -- and may be a way for scammers to get new, fresh email addresses and personal information to sell to spammers -- or perhaps even commit identity theft.
The site has the same look and feel as the real 'National Do Not Call Registry,' which is a legitimate free service of the US federal government.
On February 15, 2004, the owner of the site added a disclaimer across the top of the home page that says: "This Web Site Is Privately Owned And Operated." According to the Washington Post, the site has collected more than 300,000 email addresses in just a few weeks.
Regardless of whether or not this site is a scam, we recommend you not sign up for this email 'service' at this time.
You can read more at:
'National Do Not Call Registry' Upheld
We're very pleased to inform you that a US federal appeals court upheld the government's 'National Do Not Call Registry' yesterday, dismissing the telemarketing industry claims that the Registry violates free speech rights and is unfair because it doesn't apply to charitable or political solicitations.
We've personally noticed a dramatic decrease in telemarketing calls since the Registry took effect, so we're very pleased with this decision.
That's it for this month. Wishing you a scam-free month!