Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to hear a window being smashed in. At first, you might fear that it’s a window in your own home. Hopefully, you don’t go looking into that in person (since it may not be safe), but you grab your tablet or smartphone, tune into the live feed coming from your security cameras, and see that your property is, in fact, secure. So where did the smash come from? You look outside the window and realize…it was your neighbor’s home. And two or three individuals are crawling in a window, with one staying in a running van out front. Your neighbor’s property is being burglarized. What do you do?
Do not try to interfere
First, do not put your safety at risk by trying to interfere. You want to help your neighbor, but you may just hurt yourself if you show up with a bat in hand, ready to make threats. You should and will be of help with our upcoming tips, but not by interfering in person.
Call the police
Immediately call the police and notify them of the crime. They will walk you through the steps you should take at this time to stay safe, and help them gather the information they need.
Remain on the line until the police arrive
Remain on the phone with the police until they arrive. They will require live updates from you on the crime. Any piece of information, from what room of the house you last saw the burglar in to which direction the van drove off, can be pivotal in their investigation or stopping of the crime.
Notify the resident if you can
Call or text the resident to notify them of what is happening. If they are home, they can barricade themselves in a room. If they are not home, you want to prevent them from walking in on this burglary in progress, because things could then become violent.
Do not make them aware of your presence
If the burglars become aware of your presence—let’s say by you yelling out the window to them—this can only lead to one of two bad things. One: they’ll spook and run off before the police arrive, so the police cannot catch them or two: they will pursue and attack you because now you’re a witness to their crime.
Make sure your home is properly locked up. It’s not uncommon for a burglar to successfully rob one home, and then look around to see if any surrounding properties look appealing.
Take down vehicle information
If the criminals arrived in a car, take down the information—make, model, license plate number, any dents or identifying marks etc.
Take down identifying information
Write down any identifying information you can gather of the criminals. This can include gender, age, ethnicity, body type, height, approximate weight, and other more specific details like a limp or a hunched posture. You’d be amazed at how a tiny detail—that you believe to be irrelevant—can help police catch the criminal.
Witnessing a burglary can be very frightening—almost as scary as being the victim of one because you feel an urgency to help your neighbor and stop the crime. But even though it isn’t your home being attacked, there is still an important protocol to follow if you want to aid the police in stopping or investigating this crime.