14 News Special Report: Invasion Confrontation - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

14 News Special Report: Invasion Confrontation

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More than 200 homes have been broken into in Evansville so far this year. Many of the burglaries were home invasions that left some people living in fear.

In April, two brothers turned the tables on two home invaders by holding them at gunpoint at their home on Idlewild Drive.

"Yea I just had someone kick down my door, and my brother has him at gunpoint on the floor," John Fugate told the 911 operator.

If someone broke into your home what would you reach for, a phone or a weapon?

Law enforcement officials said response to a home invasion is different for every family. Actions depend on where you live and what sort of security measures you've already taken.

Lee Gates lives with her husband and two dogs in Oakland City. She says when there's something suspicious going on, her "alarm system" lets her know.

"The dogs just immediately went, barking and growling, but I didn't think nothing of it," Lee said.

Lee's two German shepherds, King and Queen, are better than any security system, she said.
 
"They know people, they know who's good and they know who's bad, they sense something that we cannot sense," Lee said.

And if the dogs sound the alarm in the middle of the night, Lee gets up to check things out.

"The first thing I'd do is get up and look around and see what was going on," she said.

But Sheriff Brett Kruse said checking out the situation should wait.

"The first thing they should do, if they have time, is call 911 and get it reported, and if they can, possibly stay on the phone," Sheriff Kruse said.

Sheriff Kruse says then you need to make enough contact with the intruder to verify if it is in fact, an intruder.

"There's been a lot of instances where neighbors have come home intoxicated, and went to the wrong house in a subdivision, and they're trying to get into your house, thinking it's theirs," Sheriff Kruse said.
 
A few keys words could be enough to scare off an intruder.

"The police are on their way, get out of my house, get out of my house, I've got a gun, and let them know you will defend yourself," Sheriff said.

One Evansville man, a former law enforcement officer, said he'd do his best to get the intruder out of his home.  

"Maybe open a dialogue with the person, tell them, go away, just to let them know there's someone home, someone is responding, I would just as soon give them a chance to go away," Walt Weaver said.

If that doesn't work should you grab a weapon? The Castle Doctrine enables residents to defend their home, but laws vary by state.  

Kentucky and Indiana operate under the Stand Your Ground Law.

The law states that a person may use deadly force in self-defense when the victim feels his or her life is being threatened.  

However, Illinois operates under a more specific castle law, which allows defenders to use deadly force only if the attacker is inside their home.  

Walt knows the laws and for that reason he says he'd grab his gun, breathe, relax, slack and squeeze.  

"Center of mass, right in the dead center of the biggest part of the body," Weaver said.

But Lee doesn't think she'd have to resort to using her firearm.  

"Because my dogs would take care of it," she said.

"And if your neighbor calls the police because your dog's barking, it may be the best thing that happens," Sheriff Kruse said.

But if the dogs don't do the trick, Lee says she does have backup.

"If it comes down to me and somebody breaking into my home, I'd kill somebody," Lee said.

One way to make sure you're never in this situation is avoid becoming a target.

Police recommend leaving lights on both inside and out to let potential thieves know someone is home.  

And while we all like privacy, don't plant trees and shrubs close to windows and doors, these only give intruders more places to hide.

And more often these days, victims tell us "they never used to have to lock their doors" but they learned what seems like an obvious precaution, the hard way.  
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