Dealing with IntrudersThe thought of a stranger in your home is one of the worst nightmares most people can imagine. It is highly unlikely to happen – most intruders are thieves who are keen to enter empty properties and leave as quickly as possible. If you come home to find an intruder in your property, or you awake to hear someone is in the house, there are several steps you can take to minimise the danger.

Returning Home To An Open Door

If you come home and your door is either open, or unlocked and you are sure you left it secured, do not under any circumstances enter your property. Do not make any noise, or indicate that you have returned home. Call ‘999’ and advise the police that you may have an intruder, and wait until they arrive and check your property before you re-enter. Don’t worry about a ‘false alarm’, it is always better to be safe than sorry in these situations.

Finding An Intruder

If you are in your home and find an intruder, it is essential that you remain calm. Almost all intruders are burglars, and will be keen to get away without any confrontation or physical violence. Follow these simple points to minimise any trauma, and risk of personal injury.

  • Do not shout or adopt a threatening pose.
  • Make sure you are not blocking the intruder’s escape route.
  • Try and absorb details or appearance, approximate height and weight, eye and hair colour, clothing and shoes.
  • Do not speak to the intruder – any attempt at bluff or aggression could easily escalate into violence.
  • On no account attempt to physically attack the intruder, even if they appear smaller and weaker, they may be carrying tools, which can be used as weapons.
  • Allow the intruder to leave as soon as possible, but try and watch their direction on departure. Dial ‘999’ and give as accurate a description as you can, and wait for the police.

An Intruder At Night

If you wake and realise that someone is in the house, do not go and confront them. If you have a telephone upstairs, or mobile, dial ‘999’ and give your address and details quickly and quietly. If you do not have access to a phone, switch on your bedroom light and move about making as much noise as you can. If you are alone, call a man’s name loudly. The chances are your intruder will run for it if disturbed so don’t try and be a hero, let them go.

If You Are Attacked

Instances of homeowners being attacked by intruders are rare when compared to actual break-ins. Most burglars are looking for property to steal, and will avoid any physical confrontation. If you do come under attack, the law allows you to use reasonable force to defend yourself. You are looking to make the intruder leave, not to cause them actual harm, which may result in a charge of assault against you. If the intruder runs, do not give chase, dial ‘999’ and wait for the police.

What Will The Police Do

It is important to try and offer as much information as possible to the police who attend the intrusion. As long as you have acted in what you believe to be appropriate self-defence, then you are protected under law. The police will search the area and endeavour to apprehend the intruder, and your help with a comprehensive description of the criminal will make that outcome more likely.


Intruders almost never re-visit houses where they have been disturbed – they are looking for quick easy burglaries, not confrontation or revenge. Make sure any damage to locks, doors and windows is repaired as soon as possible. If you are still worried, ask the police to send a patrol car past your property for a few nights, to give you an additional sense of security.