Police offer safety tips in wake of break-ins

Published 6:55 am Thursday, March 8, 2012

After Monday night’s home invasion in Troy, law enforcement officers in Pike County are doing their best to offer comfort and advice to area residents.

Although every home and every situation is different, officers said, there are some things people can do to protect themselves and their families to the best of their ability.

The first defense against a burglary or robbery is securing property, said Troy Police Sgt. Benny Scarbrough.

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“The main thing is the use of good locks,” Scarbrough said. “Not just a key-and-knob lock. The most secure is going to be a deadbolt. If you have glass in your door, you need a double-cylinder deadbolt.”

Scarbrough also recommends a home alarm system connected to doors and windows.

“Anything in assisting you in notifying another party that you need help,” Scarbrough said.

Although locks and alarms can deter some criminals, nothing is a failsafe.

The young couple attacked in their home Monday had both a double-cylinder deadbolt on their front door and an alarm system.

“I don’t know of anything these people could have done to lessen the fact they were victimized,” Scarbrough said. “They were protecting themselves as much as they possibly could.”

If the unthinkable happens and someone does enter a home unlawfully, Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said the law allows people to protect themselves however necessary.

“If they are in your house and you have the opportunity to use deadly force, you are justified,” Thomas said. “You can take a person’s life to defend you and your family. You can’t be held civilly liable.”

Thomas said that is made clear in Alabama’s Self-Defense Law established in 2006.

Thomas said, even though people don’t want to live in fear of home invasions and scare children, it is important to have a plan and discuss it with their family.

Always call 911 as soon as possible. Make sure children know that, Thomas said, then call your closest neighbor or family member.

“Get somebody at that house as quickly as possible,” Thomas said.

If fleeing from a home to a neighbor’s house isn’t an option, pick a safe spot in the home to hide, Thomas said.

“Have a room designated after you call 911 to go and hide,” Thomas said. “Wherever you consider the safest place. It could be a bathroom.

“It could be a closet in a bedroom. Know ahead of time where you would go if someone got inside your home.”

While Pike County residents don’t see as many crimes as more metropolitan areas, break-ins do happen.

“You see this on TV more than you used to, and it hits home,” Thomas said.

Thomas said that he recommends everyone have a firearm in their home.

“A lot of families aren’t comfortable with that,” Thomas said.

“That’s a personal decision. You have to do what is right for you and your family.”

If someone doesn’t have a gun and is being threatened with a weapon, Thomas said sometimes temporary compliance could be the best option while they look for a chance to get away from a home invader.

Thomas said, “If a person comes in your home at two in the morning after they’ve kicked your door in, you know they aren’t there lawfully and you’ve got to make the best decision you can make at the time. Sometimes you don’t know how capable you are until that time comes.”