What to do when someone is trespassing on your property

It can be a scary to spot a stranger walking across your yard, especially in the middle of the night. But it's crucial that you stay calm, act fast and don't do anything rash. Below, we'll look at what you should do (and what not to do) when someone is trespassing on your property.

Stopping a crime before it happens

Many residential crimes are thwarted long before the bad guys get close enough to trip a home's alarm system. Making your presence known is often enough to scare away burglars. But if you don't do it carefully, you could actually do more harm to your safety than good.

4 steps to stop trespassers

  1. Lock your doors
    As soon as you spot someone on your property, make sure all doors are locked, if they're not already. Remember to check any exterior basement doors, windows or other possible entry points. If you have an alarm system, make sure it's armed.
  2. Turn on lights
    This can be done at the same time as you're checking door locks. Quickly flip on both exterior lights and interior lights throughout your home. This will let the trespasser know that someone is home and may scare them away if they have ill intentions.
  3. Call the police
    This step depends on each situation, because not all trespassers are burglars. For example, in broad daylight, someone may simply be taking a short cut across your property, looking for a lost pet, or coming to knock on your door. Use your best judgment. If something doesn't seem right, or you're not sure, take the safest route by calling police right away.
  4. Retreat to the safest spot in your home – or escape
    In the event that the situation escalates, and the trespasser is trying to break into your home, retreat to the safest place in your home: ideally a room with a lockable door, a phone and no direct access from the home's exterior. Or, if you can safely escape and get help, do it.

What NOT to do

  1. Don't open your door
    Don't take the risk of asking the trespasser any questions or talking to them at all. Keep the door closed and locked.
  2. Don't chase the trespasser away
    This will only increase your odds of a violent encounter! No how badly you want to bark at the trespasser to scare them away, it's best to simply turn on lights and let the police handle it. Otherwise, you're only asking for trouble.

Every homeowner deals with unexpected trespassing at some point. How you respond to it will dictate how the situation plays out. Keep calm and act swiftly to ensure you and your family stay safe, no matter what happens.

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