Get Out Alive: How to survive a home invasion

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 18, 2015)-- All month long, FOX59 has prepared you and your family to get out of dangerous situations alive.  Your home is a place of peace until an intruder breaks in. Would you know to to put up a fight or hide to survive a home invasion?

It was March at a home on the near north side when a man barged in, tied up a ten-year-old boy, and demanded money, cars and computers.

“When he tied me up, he kept telling me shut up,” the child told FOX59.

The child’s mother said she worked to comply with the intruder’s demands.

“I wanted him out of my house. I was going to give him what he wanted to get him out of my house,” she said.

Eileen Potenza, her husband Carl, and daughter survived a horrific home invasion off 79th Street in October of 2013.

The suspects shot Eileen and sexually assaulted her and her daughter. Earlier this month, four men were sentenced to hundreds of years behind bars in that crime.

“We are ok. We’re moving on,” said Potenza after the sentencing.

“Most of the times when people break into a house, they’re doing so with the hopes that no one is inside,” said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Commander Chris Bailey.

Bailey said always keep your cell phone and car keys with you. If someone comes into your house, dial 911 and leave the line open. Drop the phone if you have to, he said, so dispatchers can hear what’s going on.

He also advises not to go looking for a confrontation with an intruder. Avoid it if you can, he said, and if you plan to pull out a weapon, don’t let it be used against you.

“If you have a weapon in your house, if it’s a firearm or whatever, it may be you need to make sure that you’re trained in that weapon,” said Bailey.

“We look around the house, anything you can pick up is a weapon,” said Jeff Patterson.

Patterson is an IMPD officer, a teacher at the academy and an expert in self-defense. He teaches a self-defense course to realtors, showing them how to use items in the home in case they need to fight back.

“You don’t rise to the occasion. You default to your level of training, and if you’ve never trained, you have no ideas on what to do,” he said.

Patterson said when you’re in your home, think fight, run or hide.

If you find yourself one-on-one engaged in confrontation with an intruder, he said you must realize household objects are tools for defense.

It can run the range of household items, Patterson said. Remotes and table decorations can be used to distract an intruder, and candles, picture frames, and books can be heavy objects that can be thrown.

Patterson showed us around a home, describing how items in kitchen drawers and appliances like toasters can be used for defense, buying you time to get out alive.

“What toaster have you ever seen that you can’t pick up,” he said, “I can use this to defend.”

Bottom line, he said, the goal is to get out alive. That could mean hiding in a closet or fighting to run.

Patterson suggests three basic self-defense moves that will work when your life is on the line.

  • Palm to the nose
  • Spread fingers to the throat
  • A slap to the neck​

Police also recommend that you make sure your doors are closed and locked when you're at home, that garage doors are secured and that you know your neighbors and become involved in some sort of crime watch program.