If you have ever been the victim of a burglary, you understand firsthand just how terrifying and traumatic the experience can be. But what do you do if you witness a robbery in progress at a neighbor’s house? The homeowner may be away or unable to phone for help, and if they don’t have a home security system installed, they may have little recourse. You don’t have to just sit by and let it happen, but you do need to be careful about how you proceed.
Remain out of Sight
When you spot the occurrence of criminal activity, the first and most important step is to make yourself scarce. You don’t want to expose yourself to potential danger, because you don’t know if the intruders are armed or aggressive. You don’t want to give the burglars any indication that you’re aware of their presence (such as by suddenly turning off all your lights), but you do want to remove yourself from plain view.
Lock your Doors and Arm your Alarm System
If you don’t already have a home security system installed, you should. There are more than 2 million burglaries in the U.S. every year, and a quality alarm system can quite literally be a lifesaver. If you do have a home security system, arm it as soon as you notice signs of burglary in your neighborhood. Also take a few moments to lock all of your doors and windows if it is safe to do so.
Call the Police
Depending on the circumstances, your neighbors may have already phoned the police, but you can never be sure, so call 911 as soon as you notice signs of criminal activity on your block. Calmly explain the situation to the dispatcher, and explain that your neighbor requires immediate police assistance for a burglary in progress.
Note Any Pertinent Details
If it’s safe to do so, try to note and recall any relevant details about the burglary. For instance, did you get a look at the burglars’ faces? What were they wearing? What kind of vehicle were they driving? Did you happen to get a glimpse of their license plate number. Don’t endanger your safety by running out in search of this information, but write down everything that you can remember, and pass it along to the police when they arrive.
Remain at Home Until the Police Arrive
When you witness a crime so close to home, you may feel tempted to get as far away from your house as possible, but again, this may jeopardize your safety. Also, the police will want to speak with you after they arrive and the scene is cleared, and the information you provide may very well ensure that justice is served, and that the perpetrators are put away for a long time.
Be a Good Neighbor
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, remember that your neighbor has undergone a seriously traumatic experience. The best thing you can do at this point is to offer your support and friendship. Even if nothing valuable was taken, and even if the neighbor was (hopefully) away from home, they’re going to need moral support at the very least. So show them that you’re there for them, take them out for a beer or a meal, and just make yourself available. It’s the neighborly thing to do.
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