What to Do in the Event of an Apartment Break-in

in Health & Safety on by

Most of us try to keep our wits about us on the street or while driving through an unfamiliar neighborhood. But the one place we’re supposed to be able to relax and not think about the potential of danger is in our own homes. That’s why it’s so deeply disturbing when we hear about a crime committed by a stranger in the victim’s own home. It’s horrible and it does happen. The chances are slim, but it makes sense to be prepared on the off chance that someone tries to break into your apartment.

Though statistics vary by region, a great deal of apartment crime occurs during the day, when you’re probably off at work. You can take steps to help reduce the likelihood of a break-in with these apartment safety basics:”

  • Properly secure doors, windows and other entrances such as balcony doors and fire escape exits.
  • Keep valuable items locked up or well-hidden.
  • Develop a relationship with at least one neighbor you can call for help. Your neighbors can also help collect your mail and newspapers while you are away so that would-be thieves don’t know you’re out of town.
  • Have your valuables engraved or tagged so that they can be easily identified if they are stolen and then recovered.
  • Consider purchasing renter’s insurance for your more valuable items.

Coming home to find that your apartment has been robbed is awful, but it’s probably worse to be at home while a break-in is actually occurring. Here are some things you can do to increase your apartment security:

1. Identify a safe area (and make sure it has a lock):
The safest place you can be during a break-in is outside of the apartment. But if you can’t get out without alerting the intruder to your presence, you’ll want to secure yourself inside a safe area. Since the bedroom is the most likely place you’ll be at night, make sure there is a lock on the door. If you live in a studio or one bedroom apartment, you may want to select a closet as your safe area instead. Of course, your closet won’t lock from the inside, but you can install a lock or use a latch and padlock instead.

2. Keep your cell phone charged and in your bedroom at night:
After you’ve secured yourself in the bedroom (or another room with a lock), the next thing you should do is call the police. It’s better to have your cell phone nearby than rely on a land line. The land line phone may be out of reach and the cord can be cut.

3. If you keep a weapon in your apartment, make sure you know how to use it:
Keeping some kind of weapon in the home makes many people feel more secure. But whether you have a baseball bat, can of pepper spray, or a gun, make sure you know how to use it. A weapon can be used to protect yourself, but it can also be turned against you. Using a can of pepper spray may seem easy now, but if you’re panicked and frightened, it may be harder than you think to figure out how to open the can and aim properly.

Now we’ll review some apartment safety tips to remember if you’re sure the sounds outside your bedroom door are those of an intruder in your home:

4. If possible, get out:
If you can escape without being seen by the intruder, do so. Don’t forget about fire escapes and ground floor windows as possible exits.

5. If you can’t get out, barricade yourself in a safe area and call the police:
If you think the sound of your voice on the phone with911 will give your location away, just dial the number and sit quietly. The emergency operators may be able to trace your call. Don’t announce that you’ve called the police. Remember that an intruder is unpredictable; a warning from you may increase the likelihood of violence.

6. Don’t use force unless you absolutely have to:
It’s not worth risking your life (or the lives of your family or roommates) to protect your stuff. Even if you’ve got a can of mace and three years of judo experience, the intruder may have a gun and a black belt in karate.

7. If you come face-to-face with the thief, be compliant:
Thieves are more likely to be violent if they feel threatened. Make no sudden moves and keep your hands where the intruder can see them. Avoid direct eye contact–you don’t want the intruder to think you’re studying his face for a police report.

8. If you’re able to remain hidden, don’t come out until the police arrive:
It’s not worth it to survey the scene for yourself. Stay hidden and quiet until you are sure that the police have arrived.

Remember that no matter how much your stuff costs or how much sentimental value it has, nothing is more important than your life. Your stuff is replaceable–you are not.

8 Responses to “What to Do in the Event of an Apartment Break-in”

  1. November 30, 2007 at 12:39 am, Guest said:

    I shouted and swore at an intruder and he jumped back over the verandah. My children were inside asleep and my husband was at work. I then called the police and my neighbours. I am only 5’4″It has been 2 days now and I still have a strained voice and feel exhausted and flat.

    Reply

  2. December 02, 2007 at 4:37 pm, Anonymous said:

    hide and look away? that’s rather cowardly. remember, in the USA it is perfectly legal to spill an intruder’s brain, whether with your firearm or with an iron pipe leftover from the last remodeling job. i keep a strategically aligned switchblade under my bed and a long-handled old(i.e. strong) hammer in the utility closet.

    Reply

  3. December 05, 2007 at 10:28 pm, Anonymous said:

    Cowardly? Sure… but I enjoy life. Have a hand over my eyes so I’m only seeing their feet, and make sure they know that. Let them take everything I own – that’s what insurance is for. Too bad life insurance can’t re-incarnate you.

    Reply

  4. February 25, 2008 at 7:15 pm, Guest said:

    I actually had to use a bat on a inturder as he was breaking into my apartment…long story short he died in the hospital two weeks later

    Reply

  5. March 10, 2008 at 2:15 pm, Guest said:

    I’m six months pregnant and have a five year old daughter. We pretty much live here alone. Her dad works on the road and we were broken into at 11 am. It was scary but I ran after the guy in hopes of getting a glance at his face but instead he and the gettaway car got away scott free cause I couldn’t identify them. I got the license plate number and the make and model of the vehicle, but no facial description. I want to leave but breaking our lease is going to cost too much!!! I no longer feel safe here since I also found out that I’m not the only tenant to have been broken into. On top of that a part was stolen off our vehicle which cost up to 200 dollars to repair. Other vehicles have been violated also! Any advice?

    Reply

  6. July 09, 2008 at 2:28 pm, Guest said:

    get a gun

    Reply

  7. December 31, 2008 at 12:11 am, Guest said:

    a lot of people from the dallas area that are commenting that doesn’t suprise me, at all. dallas is the roughest texas city ever known. makes houston look like sissy town. i know i have been to both towns. fyi make sure you kill your intruder otherwise they will charge you for b.s. crime esp. if you are hispanic, black, or low-income it is just how the f000 up justice system works.

    Reply

  8. July 24, 2009 at 2:55 pm, Guest said:

    I was broken into three days ago. They took everything. Irreplacible pictures were on my laptop and cameras. Luckily, I wasn’t there. However, no one saw. They broke into my apartment in broad daylight while I was at work, with the leasing office within view, and no one saw a thing. All they had to do was kick the door to get in. There is no such thing as a ‘safe place’.

    Reply

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