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Homeowners Confronting Burglars

by Amy December 17, 2012

We are excited to continue the series of guest blogs by Peter Rogers, Co-Founder & Senior Advisor, of FrontPoint Security Solutions.  Peter has more than 20 years of home security experience, including leadership positions at some of the country’s most prominent alarm companies.

Wireless Home Security – More Warnings on Confronting Burglars: Topeka, Kansas Police Offer Strong Advice

Every police department in the US agrees on this important advice: do not, under any circumstances, confront a burglar in your home. The big problem is that you don’t always know that an intruder is in your home when you walk through the door – especially if you have no alarm system or monitoring service to alert police, and scare the burglar off. It’s a dangerous situation when you enter your home thinking all is well, and encounter someone in the act of stealing your cash, jewelry, or electronics. When you have no warning, as happened in this story from Gary, Indiana, the results can be frightening – or as in this case, fatally tragic.

A Gary man came home from work for lunch Friday, and was shot and killed when relatives say he interrupted a burglary in progress. Relatives are grieving as police search for the killer of Jerry Hood, 48, shot in his home on 8th Avenue about noon Friday. Hood was declared dead on the scene at 1:05 p.m. Friday and died from multiple gunshot wounds in a homicide at his home, the Lake County, Ind., coroner’s office said in a news release. According to relatives, Hood was a hard-working family man. He was a single father raising a teenage girl—who has now lost both her parents.

Typical: a day-time burglary, when intruders expect that nobody is home. As is usually the case in these situations – and I could cite countless more from daily crime reports – chances are there was no alarm system in the home of the victim. In fact, only about 20% of US homes do have a monitored alarm system that can trigger a police dispatch. Imagine how much safer you would feel when entering your home at any time of day or night, without worrying about who might be there. And with interactive monitoring services, such as those offered by today’s best alarm companies, you can also receive a text or email any time a door opens, telling you which door. That’s the kind of protection more people are looking for, as home intrusion statistics continue to get worse across much of the US.

Topeka Police Offer Advice – and Caution

During a 48-hour stretch in early October, a handful of Topekans appeared to be anointing themselves honorary lawmen amid a rare set of circumstances in which two families interrupted burglaries and helped to apprehend the alleged intruders by giving chase. The two suspected burglars ultimately were arrested by police and are due back in court Thursday for hearings. Capt. Brian Desch said the Topeka Police Department doesn’t have a policy regarding burglary victims running down intruders, but officials discourage people from trying to make an apprehension on their own.

It’s Not Worth Risking Your Life

For every story where a burglar is caught, Desch said in a recent interview, there are an equal number that lead to residents suffering injuries or getting killed. “In our view, no property is worth the price of a human life,” he said. Desch acknowledges “there is some value” in following a burglar while relaying to dispatchers crucial information, but preferably from a safer distance to lessen the danger.

Police recommend that when interrupting a break-in, unless victims are physically confronted or threatened, people should be the best witnesses they can while removing themselves from a potentially dangerous encounter. “Burglars will do a lot once cornered in a house to try to get out,” Desch said.

A Case in Point

On Oct. 5, Edil Castillo pulled up next to his house on S.E. 10th with his long-time girlfriend and her 16-year-old nephew. Castillo flushed an intruder out of his home and pursued him, but not before police said the teenager was punched and had a handgun pointed at his face. Officers later arrested the suspected burglar after he had eluded Castillo in a lengthy chase. This is an example of when an outcome could have drastically shifted for the worse if the suspect had pulled the trigger, Desch said. “We’d rather you call us and we’ll make sure your house is safe before you go into it,” he stated.

More Good Advice

Recent cases don’t lead Desch to believe Topekans are growing so fed up with property crime as to become reckless in an effort to try to curb it. Far more often residents first call authorities to report an intruder may be inside their home before acting in another way, he said. Police will arrive, clear the house and then go back in with the residents. Crucial to being a good witness is making use of this era’s technology. Desch said most people have cell phones capable of taking video or photographs. Snap a quick picture of a suspicious vehicle and its license plate, he said, or shoot video if people come running out of a house.

One important recommendation often overlooked by police is the fact that a monitored home alarm system can prevent these confrontations in the first place. And that’s why so many more homeowners are shopping for true peace of mind, and why electronic security is included on this list of Top 10 Home Security Tips. With only one in five homes protected by a monitored alarm system, and a burglary occurring every 14 seconds in the US, there are still lots of homes – and homeowners – left to protect.