The Role of the Police – Before, During, and After a Home Invasion

The Role of the Police – Before, During, and After a Home Invasion

What role do Police play in the event of a reported home invasion?

The answer depends on a lot of things including the state you reside and it’s laws, the availability of Police, the seriousness of the situation and whether the crime is still in progress.

In this post, we give you an idea of what role Police can play before, during and after a home invasion.

Before a home invasion

The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is just as valid in law enforcement as anywhere else.

A large part of Police work is preventing crime before it happens. 

Crime education

Many Police departments make public education an important part of their crime-fighting strategy, so you can turn to them for advice on preventing a home invasion.

Some of this education is provided by Police websites with tips and video about burglary prevention, such as this Home Safe Report

Police departments also run many outreach initiatives such as participation in public forums and community meetings.

Neighbourhood Watch

Although not directly funded by Police, Neighbourhood Watch is a community initiative often supported by Police. 

Patrolling the area

Another important “pre-burglary” Police activity is patrolling neighbourhoods and investigating suspicious activity, whether observed by the officers themselves or reported by others.

Following up on these reports can result in identifying thieves in the planning stages of a home invasion.

During a home invasion

The police response

During the course of a home invasion, the Police might be called by a neighbour, an alarm system dispatcher, or by the homeowners themselves.

According to contributor Daniel Westlake, standard Police procedure in these cases is to:

  • approach the house quietly
  • create a perimeter
  • examine the property for signs of forced entry
  • call the property owner if possible

Confronting a burglar

If the burglar is still in the home at the time that the Police officer answers the call (which is rare), that’s when the Police’s role is at its most dangerous.

The officer will usually knock on the front door first and ask the person inside to identify themselves, as sometimes it is just a relative or neighbour inside the house.

But if the response is suspicious, the officer will draw a weapon and attempt to apprehend the suspect, giving chase if necessary.

After a home invasion

Even if a burglary has already taken place when you arrive home, it’s important to call the Police so that they can take a report.

According to a New Zealand Ministry of Justice survey, this process mostly involves the officer taking notes, offering security advice, and taking fingerprints.

The investigation

After the initial visit, the Police begin their investigation. This may involve activities such as:

  • speaking to neighbours to see if they saw or heard anything
  • checking fingerprints with their database to see if a prior offender comes up
  • interviewing potential suspects
  • collecting evidence

In some cases, the Police may use other tools at their disposal, such as communicating with local media, who will then report details about the suspect (e.g. description of the burglar’s features and clothing, security footage).

If Police manage to identify the person(s) responsible, Police will press charges and notify the victim.

Returning stolen goods

Police often don’t have the time or the resources to look for stolen items, however they can sometimes find stolen items while investigating other crimes.

If you have serial numbers for the items stolen, this obviously helps Police match a stolen item.


The police play many roles before, during and after a home invasion. 

Before a burglary even occurs, the police assist in:

  • Public education, including tips on preventing burglaries
  • Supporting neighbourhood watches
  • Patrolling neighbourhoods

During a burglary, the police:

  • Approach and examine the home
  • Confront the suspected intruder
  • Apprehend the person if suspected of burglary
  • Collect evidence

After a burglary has been committed, the police:

  • Take a report
  • Investigate
  • Alert local media about the suspect
  • Arrest the suspect if located
  • Try to recover stolen items

Be sure to take advantage of the educational tips offered by the Police on home security to reduce the chances that you’ll ever need to report a burglary in the first place.