Learn how to respond to armed robbery or home invasion

Finding yourself in a life-threatening situation involving armed thieves is not something most of us want to think about.

“It’s essential, however, that you have a business plan,” said Charnell Hatting, president of marketing and communications for Fidelity ADT. How to act when you encounter a neurotic criminal with a weapon that can save your life or cost you your life.

“The whole family needs to know what to do if uninvited guests walk in through the door intent on stealing from you, or worse,” she added. The most prevalent crimes involving armed criminals are house break-ins, plane hijacking and house burglary.

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These are common scenarios, Hatting says:

  • Motorists pulling in and out of driveways are a common target, often getting stuck in the garage and then forced back home.
  • People, who withdraw large sums of cash from banks, are followed into their homes and robbed.
  • Families enjoying entertainment outside at home or relaxing inside by armed robbers are surprised.
  • Armed robbers break into homes in the early hours of the morning when everyone is asleep and surprise the homeowners in their beds.

Six tips for what to do in the event of armed robbery:

  • Stay calm and obey the thieves’ orders.
  • Make your hands visible and don’t reach for anything unless instructed to do so.
  • Do not try to negotiate with them. Speak when you speak and do so clearly.
  • Give them what they ask for and don’t lie about safes or cash at home. In all likelihood, the thieves did their homework.
  • Watch the thieves and try to gather information about their appearance, voice, language used, etc. See for example clothing, tags, length and types of weapons.
  • Keep them informed so there are no surprises, like a family member arriving for a visit.

Immediately after that:

  • Press the panic button or the phone to alert the armed response service provider and/or call the police at 10111. Say if you need medical help.
  • Lock all doors.
  • Check the victims. Keep everyone calm.
  • Clearly and in detail relate the incident to first responders.
  • Try not to disturb the areas the thieves were in and point out anything they might have left behind.

These are horrific ordeals. It’s not easy to keep your cool when kids and other loved ones are in harm’s way, but one of the most important reflexes is to stay calm. The thieves are also nervous – perhaps even because of drug use – so the slightest misstep or sudden movement can lead to a shooting.”

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She stressed that becoming a victim of crime can be prevented.

“Vigilance is important, as are good perimeter and home security measures such as activating external beams when returning home and alerting in areas of the home you are not using. Never allow strangers on your property. Security systems should be linked to the armed response service provider and all systems should be tested regularly.” Prevention is better than cure. And in the case of a painful armed invasion of the home, the long-term psychological effects can deprive you of your quality of life. Do everything you can to keep criminals out of your home and make sure all family members know what to do if they are detained.”

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