Defending property

Home alone: Your rights when defending your property

Coming home to discover that you’ve suffered a break-in is a deeply unpleasant and traumatic event. The fall out can also be intense. There are bills to pay, insurance companies to contact and a mess to clean up, alongside the psychological impact. It comes with an anger, as well as regret: wishing you’d been there to stop the thieves. However, trying to stop a burglary in progress could be dangerous. Whether it’s the risk of violence and injury or even subsequent legal battles, defending your property isn’t as cut and dried as you might think.

Using force

If wake up in the night and realise that there is an intruder inside your home, you have certain rights of self-defence. @GOVUK explains:

“You can use reasonable force to protect yourself or others if a crime is taking place inside your home. This means you can protect yourself ‘in the heat of the moment’ – this includes using an object as a weapon, and stop an intruder running off – for example by tackling them to the ground. There’s no specific definition of ‘reasonable force’ – it depends on the circumstances. If you only did what you honestly thought was necessary at the time, this would provide strong evidence that you acted within the law. However, you could be prosecuted if, for example, you carry on attacking the intruder even if you’re no longer in danger.”

During the adrenaline rush of physically apprehending a burglar, you might not appreciate the danger of doing something like this. You have no idea what this criminal is capable of, or what lengths they will go to in a struggle. Just because it’s legally acceptable to attack them doesn’t mean you should.

Additionally, a legal battle may not always go the way of the homeowner. There have been several high-profile examples of homeowners fighting (and even killing) intruders and facing jail time themselves. The law is fairly straightforward; the cases are often more complicated. For instance, setting traps is very problematic. You might think you’re following the example set by movies like Home Alone, but if one of your homemade ‘anti-burglar’ devices injures or even kills an intruder, the legal defence above would probably not apply.


Your best bet when it comes to defending your home is to invest in a comprehensive integrated security system. There are a great number of options available, including various add-ons which serve to make your system even more effective. Alongside a powerful alarm, you can invest in CCTV, one of the best theft deterrents possible.

Burglars are very wary of CCTV since it can be used to identify them after the break-in and brought as evidence in court, making it much easier for justice to be served. Technology like BT Redcare can be used to add a remote monitoring capability so that your system can’t be subverted or disabled without an alert being triggered and the authorities being called.

In the event of a break-in, stay calm and call the police. It’s best not to try and do anything rash like attack a burglar. If you’re interested in learning more about your rights and the security options available to you, get in touch today – or take a look around our site.