Every 15 seconds in the U.S., a burglary takes place. Home invasions are also on the rise. Knowing how to react could mean the difference between life and death.

Assessing the difference 

According to home security expert Jordan Frankel, perhaps better known as the Security Sensei, burglars typically strike homes that appear unoccupied to avoid confrontation.

“Burglars target homeowners while [they are] at work, shopping, etc.,” explains Frankel. “The criminal will enter forcibly, through a door or possibly a window. The intruders must ransack the home to find valuables and cash. This takes time, creating attention, especially if the alarm system is blaring away.” 

A home invasion involves illegally entering a private, occupied dwelling to commit a crime, using fear, intimidation and the element of surprise. The culprits want to be in and out in minutes, sometimes pulling a gun on the family pet or even a child.

“Home invaders are brazen, and will stop at nothing to complete heinous crimes,” warns Frankel. “They have no regard for human life. Injuring or murdering a family is simply a means to an evil end. They'll case a home for weeks, learning the family’s patterns and habits. Usually they show up in teams of two to five individuals, forcibly entering through multiple doors simultaneously.”

"Purchase security door braces, use longer screws on entry door hinges, keep your garage locked, install outdoor motion detection lighting and apply a specially developed clear film to windows, making them difficult to shatter."

Don't risk it

Frankel, who has 20 years experience in the industry, says never hunt or confront an intruder, and use a firearm only as a last resort. Also, install a security system with silent panic buttons, and consider building a safe room or convert a walk-in closet into a hiding space.

“A properly designed safe room can withstand violent attacks from home invaders or crazed individuals,” explains Frankel. “It's a place where individuals, families or friends can protect themselves from harm during that nail-biting period between the trigger of an alarm and the police arriving on scene. Many safe rooms contain hidden materials that have the ability to stop or slow down a bullet.” 

Purchase security door braces, use longer screws on entry door hinges, keep your garage locked, install outdoor motion detection lighting and apply a specially developed clear film to windows, making them difficult to shatter. Request your home be omitted from Google Maps. And don't think a break-in can't happen to you.

Adds Frankel, “The very nature of a home invasion, which transcends race, class, education and geography, reminds us that no one is immune from this increasingly lethal attack.”