HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Imagine you're home alone and you hear glass breaking. Someone is breaking in. Do you know what do?
"John" was home alone when a masked intruder broke in.
"There was a loud crash, a breaking of the glass on the window," John said. "Someone was in my bedroom. Somehow I was screaming 'no, no no.'"
John was lucky because the intruder robbed him, but left him alive.
"Ninety-five percent of the time they're trying to find an empty home. They want to go in, spend no more than 3 to 5 minutes collecting everything they can and then head out," said security expert Miguel Yanez.
Yanez is a former police officer and says most criminals don't want to come in contact with a homeowner. Make it clear that you're home - flash your lights or yell through a window. You can even get a noise box that will blast very loud sound effects. Don't ignore a strange knock on your door.
But if there is no warning or knock at the door, you need to know what to do if you hear someone breaking in. Yanez says the most important thing to do is to have a plan.
"Always have that contingency plan drawn up in your head. It's okay to walk around the house and draw up scenarios. It's not being paranoid, it's being prepared," Yanez.
You know your house better than an intruder. If you can, it's best to get out of the house and head to a neighbor's.
Develop a family plan with a code word. When your kids hear the word, teach them to hide under their bed until you come get them.
"That's where the training comes in. It's a safe zone, they just need to stay there, create a little comfort level for them," Yanez said.
Keep your cell phone and car keys with you at night. You'll be ready to call police and your key fob's panic button can create a great distraction.
Pepper spray and baseball bats can be good go-to items, but any heavy object can help if you decide to fight.
If you come face to face with an intruder and you're not prepared, lie down and do not look at them. Pretend to have a heart attack or breathing problem.
"Don't let fear paralyze you. When you become paralyzed by fear, that's when you really do become a victim," Yanez said. "Nothing is worth the life or safety of your family. Let them take whatever they want to take."
Also, don't hesitate to call 911 - that's what it is there for.
We specifically did not mention firearms. If you own one, you need to know how, when, and where to use it.
Other tips to prevent a home invasion:
- If you're home alone and someone knocks on the door, yell "I'll get it!" giving the impression you're not alone.
- Demand identification from anyone (utility worker, repair workers) who comes to your door. Look up the company name YOURSELF and call to confirm.
- If someone comes to your door needing help, tell them you'll call 911 for them. Do not open the door.
- If you live alone, leave props by the door (large dog bowl, men's boots) to give the impression you're not alone.
- Plant large thorny bushes around first floor widows. They can prevent people from getting to the window and collect DNA or clothing shreds from anyone who comes into contact with them.
- If you don't have an alarm, hang a bell on your door knob and don't fix squeaky hinges.
- Place alarm stickers on windows or doors even if you don't have one.
- If you have an alarm, make sure it's not near a door or window where someone can see from the outside if it's set or not.
- Regularly make sure all of your doors and windows are locked, especially the ones you rarely use. Kids, guests, or utility worker could easily unlock them without you knowing.
- Put an inexpensive dowel rod on the track of sliding glass doors to prevent it from being opened.
- Have a plan, make sure the family knows it, and practice it!