How to protect yourself during a home invasion

TEMPE, AZ - It could be every homeowner's worst nightmare: coming face to face with a stranger in their home.

Valley police say home intrusions are rare, but they do happen, and it's a good idea to make a plan with your family. Police say it usually comes down to run, hide or fight. And when a person only has a few seconds to make a decision, having a plan can make a big difference.

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If the situation starts with the bad guy outside of a home, Tempe Police Det. Lily Duran says to make it known that you are in the home because most burglars want an easy break-in.

"If there is someone home, they might think a little bit more before they enter that home," said Duran.

If that person kicks in a door or breaks a window, police say you should try and see if there is another way out of the home like a garage or sliding door. If not, try to create space between you and the intruder.

You should try to get to a safe space in a closet or a bedroom with a lock.

"Having everything methodical," said Duran. "Where you leave your keys. Where you leave your phone. And having designated areas. And practicing it. And then having a designated spot where you guys are going to meet once you exit your residence."

A small tip: have 911 programmed into your phone. Because under extreme stress, even three numbers can be tough to dial. Or you have the option to text 911 if you're hiding and can't make a sound.

"They're not going to call you back," said Duran. "They will text you so you can have that conversation via text." 

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If the intruder gets inside and you are hiding, police say it might be tempting to yell out to the intruder that you've called 911. But you want to stay quiet, so you don't give away your location.

An out-of-the-box idea is sleeping with your car keys next to your bedside table. If you push the panic button, the alarm could scare the intruder out of the home.

"They're going to think twice about staying longer in your residence," said Duran.

Police also say if it comes down to it, anything can be used as a weapon if you have to fight your way out.

Something else to keep in mind: run some tests and double check that security cameras in the home are in a good location, with the right distance and angle to catch images of the faces you don't want in the home.

And finally, be a good witness. If you can see the person from a safe spot, memorize everything. If they get away, you can give police a good description of the home intruder.

RELATED: Police: Open 911 line leads police to suspects in Mesa home invasion

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