You wake up at 3:00 a.m. to the sound of breaking glass. Someone has just broken out the window on your back door, and they’re coming into your house. You always worried about it, but it’s never happened before. Maybe the economic recession has finally pushed people to commit more brazen crimes. Whatever the case, you need to act fast. What should you do?

One police officer said in an interview that most burglars will flee the home if they know someone is there, so the safest and quickest way to get them to leave is just to let them know the house is not empty. He said that it could be as simple as yelling to them or making a loud noise. They may have thought the home was empty, they don’t actually want a confrontation and so knowing that you’re there will cause them to run. That ends the situation without incident.

Many people assume that they may have to defend their home during a break-in, perhaps through the use of physical force. Others assume they should quietly wait and call the police. This officer suggests that neither of those tactics are best, as they may escalate the situation. Even staying quiet could escalate it if they come across you unexpectedly, face-to-face.

Of course, though, making your presence known can help, that doesn’t mean it will always work. You could still end up in a confrontation and a situation like this can get very dangerous, very quickly. You must know what legal steps you can take if you get injured.