What to do if someone breaks into your home

Knowing your rights

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Over the past couple of weeks, Springfield Police have investigated a number of shootings and home invasions.

It’s a scary situation, someone breaking into your home and you’re inside. Police said the first thing you should always do is try and escape, but if you can’t; “We recommend getting to a safe room, make sure you have your phone with you. If you don’t have access to a phone, if there’s a phone in your bedroom, dial 9-1-1 and leave it off the hook. Officers that get a 9-1-1 call will respond to your house,” said Chicopee Police Officer Mike Wilk.

If hiding doesn’t work and you physically confront an intruder, in some cases you could actually face criminal charges. According to state law, you can only use force in self-defense if you fear the person who broke into your home was going to hurt or kill you or someone else in your home.

Springfield Attorney Ryan Alekman of Alekman and DiTusa Law Firm, told 22News the law essentially means you can’t attack someone who breaks in, unless they verbally or physically threaten your safety. “If somebody has broken into your house and is sitting on the couch eating potato chips you don’t have the right to kill that person,” Alekman said. “You can call police to get them out of there but you can’t just use force because you feel like using force.”

It’s a good idea to have a plan, just in case. The FBI says there’s a home invasion in the U.S. every 15 seconds. However, many break-ins can be avoided. Prevention starts with locked windows and strong doors.

Consider getting a “Grade 1” deadbolt, which gives the most protection. The Burglary Prevention Council reports 34% of home break-ins happen right at your front door. For extra protection you can also consider installing window alarms.

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