This Is What You Can Do If An Intruder Breaks Into Your House
Burglaries are more common than you think and if it's ever happened to you, you'll know how awful it is. Last year, in October and November alone there were almost 40,000 acts of burglary in England and Wales. That's around 666 burglaries a day! Isn't that scary to think about?
A lot of burglaries happens when you're not at home. It's easier for the thief that way. But what happens when you are in the house at the time?
It's not something you ever want to think about - but you need to know all the facts so that if an intruder does break in to your house, then you know what you can do - and what you shouldn't.
You can't just do whatever you want to an intruder - but you can defend yourself. However, when it comes to defending yourself, there's a line between trying to protect yourself from the intruder and attacking the intruder.
Here's some handy guidelines as drawn out by the Crown Prosecution Services to help.
Call Emergency Services
First of all, you should call 999 and let the police know the situation. It may sound obvious, but you shouldn't try to deal with any burglaries on your own if you can help it. If you attack the intruder without having made any attempt to contact the police, then you could be in trouble. Obviously, sometimes these things happen so quickly - in which case call them as soon as possible.
You Can Use Reasonable Force
What is reasonable force? Obviously everyone has different strength levels but as long as you do what you honestly and instinctively feel is necessary in the heat of the moment, then that's OK.
You can still use something as a weapon - and the more extreme the situation the more force you can use.
What Is Disproportionate Force?
It's hard to tell what kind of force would be proportionate when you're defending yourself and others from an intruder. Sometimes you might use force which in hindsight was too much - but as long as at the time if felt reasonable the law will err on your side.
But You Can't Use Grossly Disproportionate Force
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OK, so it's getting a bit confusing, but basically, you can't go savage. No revenge or retribution. So if you knocked out your intruder, you can't kick them when they're unconscious, or tie them up and torture them.
You Don't Need To Be Attacked First
If you're in your own home and worried about your safety, and other people's safety, you don't need to wait to be attacked first to use defensive force. Sometime offence is the first defence.
What If You Kill The Intruder?
Obviously you shouldn't try to kill them - but when you're defending yourself things can get out of hand. As long as you don't use grossly disproportinate force, then you won't be prosecuted. If you attack your intruder when they're unconscious, or set a trap for them and don't call the police, then that's excessive force and you'll be prosecuted.
Can You Chase The Intruder Away?
As you're no longer acting in self-defence, the situation is slightly different. If you're trying to make a citizen's arrest and recover your property, you can use use reasonable force. But if you're trying to punish them - then no, that's not OK.
Will The Police Believe Me Over The Intruder?
The police take everything into consideration - they have a duty to investigate any crime, especially if a death or injury has taken place. And sometimes things aren't as they seem - people stage burglaries to cover up fights between drug dealer!
How quickly the investigation can be wrapped up depends on what's happened. If it's more complicated and serious - if injury or death have occurred then it will take longer. But the police want it dealt with as swiftly as possible.
But don't worry too much, very few households have ever been prosecuted for the use of force against households.
Featured Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox