Surviving a home invasion

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Updated: 5/02/2013 9:18 am Published: 5/01/2013 1:13 am

Tulsa police report this year there have been 72 robberies in homes which are known as home invasions.

Officers report that is about the same pace as last year when there was a total of 246. 

The Freeman family will always remember Saturday November 1st, 2008 9:40 pm. Mr. Freeman was sitting in his chair in the living room and heard glass break in his bedroom in Broken Arrow.

"I came downstairs to see what was going on,” said Cathy Freeman.

Four minutes later their lives changed forever.

“That's when I got up and hollered at my wife," said Curtis Freeman.

He says he grabbed his Glock that was left on his kitchen table. His wife usually puts it in the bedroom when he comes home, but not that night.  

"Then trying to get into position to protect my wife, son and myself,” said the husband.

While Mr. Freeman waited at the end of the hallway, it was pitch black, upstairs his wife and son, who was 12 at the time, hid in the closet.

"I didn't want to get in the closet. You want to do something,” said Cathy Freeman.

Once in a safe place she called 911.

911 call:
Mrs. Freeman: "I know nothing. He is downstairs and I'm upstairs and he told me to stay upstairs and call the police."

Mr. Freeman heard the intruder in his bedroom and then the intruder walked into the hallway.

“I just made the decision I wasn't go to wait and see what else would happen,” said Curtis Freeman.

“That's when I started shooting."

On the 911 call you hear multiple gun shots.

Curtis Freeman says three of the six shots he fired hit the intruder three times, the intruder survived.

"When someone is breaking into your house I take it as a threat,” said Curtis Freeman.

More than four years later, there are constant reminders in the Freeman home.

Smooth marks on the wall show where they patched up the bullet holes in the wall and in the bedroom there is a faint stain on the carpet.

"Every time I walk in the door it's a reminder and. The stains are still there,” said Cathy Freeman.

The Freemans have upped their security, but the home invasion has taken an emotional toll.

"Things are never the same, it changes you. It changes everyone in the family,” said Cathy Freeman.

She says it’s still affecting her husband, who used to nap with a gun in his lap. 

"If I hear something I still get up and look,” said Curtis Freeman. "I never regretted pulling the trigger, I wish I never had to."

He says when he leaves the house for a short or long period of time, his security is always in the back of his mind.

“That’s the hardest part is the toll that it has taken on my husband because he doesn’t have the sense of security anymore,” said Cathy Freeman. “It’s heartbreaking to see that he was the traumatized by it and still has some issues from it and probably always will.”

The Freemans say they don’t question the decision to use a gun to fight off an intruder and wants other families to have a plan.

"People talk big but you know what when it comes down to it nobody wants to have to do that,” said Cathy Freeman. “Your sense of security is gone. So people say you should just move. It doesn’t matter where we live. Once you have been through it, your home is supposed to be your fortress it’s where you are supposed to be safe. And now you know you are not and will never be again. So if we move to another house we will never be safe.”

Having a safety plan in place can save your life.

"What will you do?” said Greg Douglass.

He is a Tulsa Police officer and also owns security company, Citadel Intelligence. He trains families in their own homes how to react to a home intruder.

"I think the most important thing is the family talking and having a plan of some kind,” said Douglass.

Aside from physically securing your home, Douglass mentally prepares families.

"I am not going to hunt the guy down I am going to stage to protect,” said Douglass.

He recommends you avoid running passed the robbers and run to a safe room you have in place.

He uses the Freemans laundry room and recommends you put a lock in the hiding room.

Douglass says if you have weapons in the home you should keep one in the safe room, but safely away from children.

“If you are moving quickly and they are in hot pursuit and you get in there and lock it that will buy you enough time so they can't do that they have to force it open,” said Douglass.

He says it may not prevent the confrontation but it slows the thieves down.

"You go in the laundry room and lock the door that gives you more time to get out in the garage get a vehicle, get the garage door up and get away,” said Cathy Freeman.

If you are in the bedroom and you hear an intruder in your home, police recommend you not make it known to the robber you are home.

"There is nothing in your home that is worth dying for, so let them take your TV," said Alisha Douglass.

It may get complicated and why police say you need a safety plan in place. When you have a family and your kids are upstairs and you are downstairs and there is an intruder in the house.

“You staged right here or wherever, it's somewhere between family and bad guy,” said Douglass.

He and his wife recommend you always talk about your plan with your children so everyone knows what to do and where to go if there is an intruder.

“You have to take personal responsibility for your own safety. Like what you guys [Freeman family] did,” said Douglass.

Online court records show the suspected intruder, Stephen Richardson, 23, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor breaking and entering and served a deferred sentence. Court records show he is serving another deferred sentence for a burglary in a separate crime.

FOX23 News previously reported items to protect your home you can buy at a home improvement store. You can purchase door reinforcers, longer pins in hinges, door and window alarms for under $100.

Security experts also recommend you avoid glass doors and have locks on both sides of the door and do not leave the key in the lock. They also recommend you keep your home alarm on while you are at home, so you know if someone comes into your home.

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