What to do when you're being robbed — at gun point

Published April 5, 2015
Your home may be your castle, but that doesn’t mean that invaders can’t breach it.
Your home may be your castle, but that doesn’t mean that invaders can’t breach it.

“They came at night by scaling the wall when we were fast asleep, tied us up and robbed us of all our belongings.”

“I was driving the car into the house and as I stepped out to close the gate they pointed a gun and shoved me inside; calmly they loaded the car with all my valuables and drove away.”

We have all heard people explaining situations such as those mentioned above when asked for details about the robbery they were a victim of. And these are the situations which one can hardly prevent.

So how exactly does one react when one is being robbed? Is it ok to challenge the robbers?

How people react to being held at gun point and robbed solely depends on their frame of mind at that very moment, but their actions or inactions could be life-changing.

How to react to a robber in your home

Listen attentively

It’s important to hear what the intruder is up to. Can you hear multiple footsteps? Is the person talking to someone with them or on the phone? Are they heading towards you? This will help you understand what you are up against.

Do not move and stay put

If you are inside a room try and lock the door. Do so with little or no sound. Don’t switch the lights on or off as doing so may give away your presence.

Set off an alarm

If you have an alarm that sounds off within your home, then use it. If you have a panic alarm with remote monitoring, trigger it. If you have neither of these, then use your car alarm. (Keep your car key on your bedside table at night).

Be silent

Silence is your best friend as screaming out to warn them that you’re calling the police or that you have a weapon and will shoot, will only cause them to panic. If the intruders get panicked, they could harm you out of fear of being caught.

Use your phone

Call the police and inform them of the intruder and give them your address. Do not tell them which room you are hiding in. This is crucial if you are using a landline with an extension in another part of the house. Always ensure your cell phone is charged, especially when heading to bed at night. Don’t forget to put your cell on silent and on vibrate mode either.

Act decisively

If you are certain of an escape route that takes you out safely and without detection, then escape. Don’t try and gather other family members to escape if they are in different rooms. If you escape, you can be of help to the authorities when they arrive.

If you and the family are all together in a room, then barricade yourself inside if escaping is not an option. Do so by moving heavy furniture near the door to jam it closed.

Look out

Don’t open the door and walk out from wherever you are hiding. You may not hear a sound for a while or you may think you’ve heard them move away from where you are but that could be a ploy. Look through the door crack (peepholes are advisable) to try and spot someone and if you can’t, then play it by ear.

It’s always best to stay put for as long as you can even if that means an hour after they’ve gone. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Wait in hiding

If you’ve managed to call the police or been able to trigger the panic alarm then wait for the authorities. Do not come out of your hiding spot until they are onsite and you are able to identify them.

What if you can’t hide and are found by the intruders?

Stay away

Avoid being close to the intruder; stay in a corner but don’t turn your back on the intruder and avoid any sort of confrontation.


Do what you are told to. Stay calm because any sudden movements could trigger a deadly response from the intruder. Understand what they want; if all they are after is your valuables then let them take it. If they ask you where your safe is, tell them. You don’t want to put yourself or your family in harm’s way to protect material possessions.

How to answer your phone

If you have an intrusion system with remote monitoring, you can expect to receive a call.

Don’t answer it unless the intruder permits you to. What you say at this moment is critical. A prearranged distress code should be used that would trigger a response from them.

Don’t be aggressive

While it’s important not to appear weak, it’s equally risky to appear aggressive. A medal for bravery issued posthumously is no good to your loved ones. Also, you must always assume the intruder has back-up support.

What to do when the robbers have gone?

Report the incident

If you weren’t able to do so when the intruders were on your premises do so now. The police report will be required for any insurance claims. Inform your insurer and be available when they conduct their survey.

Spend the night away

Once the authorities have done their work you may consider spending the night with friends and family or even at a hotel. People react differently; there will be fear, anxiety or sheer outrage from feeling violated. Lock up the house when leaving.

List lost items

Make a list of all that has been lost. Cash, credit cards, phones, passports, IDs, gadgets everything you can remember. For credit cards and phone immediately block them by calling the bank and mobile company. For passports and IDs make sure you have it listed in the police report to ensure no misuse.

Check the house

You want to know how the intruder came in: was it through the door, a window or what? Immediately fix the weaknesses and don’t forget to change the door locks.

Get a medical assessment

If you or any member of the household was roughed up then have them medically assessed. If in the short or long term you see a change in the demeanour of the family, especially children, you should consider seeking professional help as well.

Norbert Almeida is a safety & security advisor.

Email: ask@norbalm.com
Twitter: @norbalm
Blog: www.norbalm.com

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, April 5th, 2015

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