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What happens if, despite all your prevention efforts, you still become a victim of a burglary, or other property related crime? First, try not to panic. Get to the nearest phone, and immediately call the Sheriff's Office emergency 911 line. It is important for you to remain calm so you can effectively communicate with both Sheriff's dispatchers and with Sheriff's deputies when they arrive.

Burglary and Vandalism

If you come home to find your home has been vandalized or burglarized, do not go inside or disturb anything on the premises. If you went inside before realizing a crime had been committed, leave immediately and try to remember anything you may have touched or moved inside, and inform deputies of it when they arrive.

What to do if confronted by a burglar

What if you come home to find a burglar inside the house?

The basic rule when confronting a burglar is: cooperate. A burglar frequently lives in fear—of the police, of others, and of himself. Despite the tough-guy role he plays, he's tense, desperate, dangerous and often high on illicit drugs.

Don't confront him and don't try to stop him. Assume he is armed and potentially violent. A crowbar, a knife, a screwdriver—typical burglar tools can be just as deadly as a gun if the burglar feels trapped or endangered.

Some people might say this is the coward's way out. Remember, a burglar is often armed, young and strong, and may be desperate or on drugs. By following the above strategy, the victim stands a good chance of getting out of the situation unscathed. If a victim resists, he or she stands a good chance of being killed or seriously maimed in the course of trying to save some of his or her property.

Common Property Crimes

Trespassing

You have the final say over who you will allow on your property. However, before the crime of trespassing has occurred, you must first warn the person not to enter, or remain on your property and the warning must be ignored by that person.

There are three ways to communicate your message of No Trespassing:

1. You, the property owner, personally must warn the individual he is not allowed to enter, or remain on your property:

2. Your agent personally must warn the individual he is not allowed to enter or remain on your property;

3. You must properly post your land with visible prominent signs saying No Trespassing.

If someone comes onto your property after a warning, they are trespassing. Call the Sheriff's Office. If the trespasser is still on your property when the deputy arrives he will be arrested. If the trespasser has left, the deputy will forward a report to the State's Attorney for issuance of a warrant or summons.

LitteringLittering/Illegal Trash Dumping

If you see someone littering on public or private property call the Sheriff's Office immediately. Call 911 if the amount dumped is a large one, and if the dumping is in progress at the time of your call.

Trash can only legally be discarded in trash receptacles or in the county landfill. If the amount of trash exceeds 500 lbs. or is dumped by a commercial establishment, or is hazardous waste, a felony has occurred and the deputy can arrest immediately. Also, any vehicle used in committing this crime may be confiscated.

If the amount of litter is less than 500 lbs. the crime is a misdemeanor. Call the Sheriff's Office, anyway! The deputy will take a report, investigate, and seek a warrant or summons from the State Attorney.

Disturbing the Peace

In essence, if anyone commits an act that disturbs your peace, it is a crime, however the courts reserve the right to determine what is a reasonable disturbance and if a crime has occurred.

If you feel your peace is being disturbed call the Sheriff Office. The deputy will advise the disturbing party of your complaint. If the disturbance continues the deputy will take a sworn statement from you regarding why your peace is disturbed, investigate, and forward the case to the State Attorney.

To aid in prosecution, it is recommended you have some type of evidence. A tape recording of the noise, videos of a fight or photos of disorderly conduct are good examples. This could help the court with its decision.