Your first response when you realize someone is in your home is panic and adrenaline. Having a plan in place can help you stay calm and make the best choices to protect your home and family.

Break-ins are a violation of one of our most sacred and personal spaces: our homes. A criminal breaking into an empty home is a concern, but the threat of a home invasion when the residents are at home is what keeps many people awake at night. While many homeowners fear an overnight break-in, FBI statistics show that most home invasions occur during the day, so chances of someone breaking into your house at night are actually quite slim. Very little will stop a really determined burglar, but having a plan in place and a few minutes to execute it makes a positive outcome more likely. Thinking ahead, as difficult as it may be, can save precious time when deciding what to do if someone breaks into your house.

Burglars can be creative, and situations can shift unexpectedly during a crime, so there’s no way to map out exact plans for every eventuality. Planning home defense tactics isn’t as simple as fire safety planning, for example, where residents can choose which exit they’ll use depending on the location of the fire, because home invasions do not follow a predictable path. Plans for a break-in response need to be simple and flexible so that they can be quickly implemented in a variety of situations. Layers of preparation and planning can provide some peace of mind.

Tips for What to Do if Someone Breaks Into Your House

Invest in preventive measures to protect your home from break-ins, such as upgraded security at entry points, lighting, and professional home security systems with monitoring to make the home less appealing and less accessible to burglars. There are also plenty of free ways to keep thieves away from your home without expensive equipment. If potential burglars hit roadblocks as they attempt to gain entry, you may be calling police to investigate an attempted invasion rather than an actual one.

Have a plan in place that your family is familiar with to reduce panic and lost time.

Remember that the vast majority of home invaders are chasing easy-to-sell valuables and aren’t there with the intent of harming residents. According to the FBI, most burglars don’t intentionally choose targets when residents are home, so they’re surprised to discover people in the house. Don’t panic, and follow the plan.

If you come home to a broken window, evidence of lock bumping, or another sign that someone has broken in, don’t search the home yourself. Call the police and do not enter until they give the all-clear.