Need Advice for My Neighbor...

Updated on September 07, 2011
R.D. asks from Richmond, VA
18 answers

My widowed neighbor, Miss B, whom we love dearly and help take care of (she's such a sweetie!!) just called and asked if anyone knocked on our door last night. I said no ma'am, why?... she said that someone knocked on her door at 2:30AM!! Both her adult children are out of state, and she never expects anyone else. She said her doors were locked and she always keeps some lights on and the knocking made the dog start barking like crazy (she has a dizzy little pug)... I told her that if it happens again, to call the police, then call us (so we can keep an eye out). I don't like the thought of someone potentially targeting her. There's NO excuse for ANYONE to be knocking on an old ladies door at 2:30AM!!

What else can I tell her to help protect herself and stay safe??

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answers from Kansas City on

What about getting her some pepper spray to put on her nightstand? That is scary!!! Kudos to you for being such a good neighbor, we should all have people like you living next door!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

teach her how to call you " I AM ARMED", stops the idiots in their tracks. that and, have a password that you and this woman and her family can agree on , so that, if this happens again, the door knocking at 2am, and the person doesnt have/say the password, she knows to call the police. more later, baby
K. h.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Contact your Dept on Aging and see if they have any info for you to give her.

A well-lit porch would be good.

Super huge dog water bowl, left outside, with "THOR" painted on it.

Security stickers for the door.

ETA* It could have been legit--someone broken down, or out of gas, who didn't KNOW she was a little old lady.

Take her a magnet or something with your phone number on it so it's handy if it's the middle of the night and she's confused.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

You've got some good suggestions here. I taught ladies self defense for a while here are some others....

First she can get a can of mace from the local police department. A lot of people use this instead of guns, because they are uncomfortable with them.

Second, change her nightly routine. If someone is really watching the house then they can easily pick up on when she goes to bed at night. For instance,
She watches T.V. then goes to her room, reads for a while then shuts off the light in the bedroom. Now the house is completely dark, a first indicator to criminals that the resident is either sleeping or not home. We used to tell single ladies that if they left a different light burning all night that it can make it hard for the criminals to figure out a routine and they will move to an easier target. One lady I taught the class to said she bought those lights that you stick to the wall and put them next to her windows, then alternated which one she turned on. I thought that was brilliant, and an energy saver too.

If you can (I know you have a busy schedule) try and find some self/home defense classes for the elderly. They won't do the physical stuff like a regular class, and they aim way more towards prevention than actually having to defend yourself.

I say this with all sincerity. The BEST thing you can do to defend yourself is to not be in a situation to where you HAVE to. In otherwords, be aware of your surroundings, trust your gut, and have a plan. Not all attacks can be prevented, but the key is to try and make yourself the least likely to be attacked.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

do not even be tempted to open the door.

keep a phone with you at all times. Do not hesitate to call the police. Call them 1st & then the neighbors.

does she have outside lights she can keep on all night?

hope this helps....oh, & be sure to tell her that if she hears a baby crying, a dog whimpering, a cat yowling, or a child calling.....DO NOT open the door! Immediately call the police!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I don't suppose she wants to take a basic pistol safety course and learn to shoot?
My husband teaches a class and you'd be surprised how many elderly sign up for it.
Police are great for cleaning up after the fact, but if you have a home invasion in progress and the police are 10-20 min away - there is no way they are going to get there in the nick of time.
Police are not body guards - they are not liable and they do not have to save your life.
If they are busy elsewhere, they do not necessarily have to show up in response to your 911 call.
It may not be her style, but there are more pistol packing grandmas and grandpas than you think.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Does she have a front light that she can make motion detecting. Just don't point it towards the street, someone did that, very annoying when you are driving down a street and are suddenly blinded. :(

You can also call burglar alarm companies and ask if you can have a sticker. Some will give you one even if you don't have an alarm with them. Criminals are kinda stupid so they can't tell if you really do have one. More so only in the movies do they actually know how to disarm them. :p

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

This sounds like something that was happening in our neighborhood in St Louis a few years ago. A group of men were ringing doorbells after dark and then doing home invasions. Our 90-year-old neighbor was the one who outsmarted them by calling police immediately & they were caught!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

It also could have been a mistake. Someone thinking they were going to a friends' house or visiting someone....
Of course she should take precautions, (good ones listed below) but consider this: last night was Labor Day, lots of people out partying, closing out the summer and bar hopping. Also, most bars close at 1 am or 2 am. Some drunk was probably looking for a buddy and forgot where he was.

(Yes, and they are out of the road...that's real scary!!)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

Most people had really good ideas so far..the motion detecting lights are great. Posting a ADT sign outfront. She can keep a can of hairspray by her bed...that burns when you get it in your eyes! Tell her to never never never open the door, call the cops!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Tell her to make sure she keeps her outdoor lights on. Also, if she can't afford a security system, they do have small, inexpensive ones that an alarm will sound off if the door is opened. We had those in apartments and it made us feel much safer. You can find them at Target/Home-Depot/Walmart... usually around the lightbulbs and locks section.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't think there is much else you can do. Just keep and extra eye on her. If you have a Citizens On Patrol (C.O.P) or other neighborhood watch program in your area, maybe you can contact them. Make sure she keeps a porch light on too, that may deter someone. Hopefully it was a case of mistaken address or kids pulling a prank. Either way , I know from experience that it is very unnerving.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I love the big man's shoes on the porch....the dog bowl with a scary sounding name...all good ideas..very creative.

We talked to the police awhile back in another town about something like this. They dispatched an officer to frequently circle in our quiet neighborhood for a couple weeks.

Just keep checkin' in on her. She is lucky to have you!! I am sure it settles her nerves a bit knowing a nice young family is lookin' out for her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

She should probably still call the police and report the strange activity so they can patrol your neighborhood better. Heck, you could call if she doesnt want to, its your neighborhood too.

When I lived with my parents, our house was robbed, they had been stalking our activity for weeks to know when we were in and out.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

You have received some great advice.

My 2 cents - if she doesn't have keyed deadbolts on her doors, install them. Also, privacy chains on the inside of the door. Double check all her window locks and ensure that they are tight and secure. Think about installing some more significant window locks than the those little slide ones that come on the windows. But, make sure she can open them if she ever needs to go out a window.

Report the incident to the police if she has not already - stepping up patrols in the area, even if only for a little while, is a good deterrent to any one "casing" the area.

Also, many of the Life Alert systems automatically alert the police when the button is pushed.

Okay, those are my random thoughts.

Oh, buy her doggy a big bone - he is a good doggy for barking and sounding the alert.

And you, R., are one heck of a terrific lady!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


You are soo sweet!! I would buy her a can of wasp spray - it sprays 20 feet and HURTS BIG TIME...pepper spray needs to be within a few feet - this way - she can feel fast...

There is NO REASON OR EXCUSE FOR ANYONE TO knock on ANYONE's door at 0230!!!

However, I would NEVER answer my door at 230 in the morning without looking and knowing the person...and even then - I'd have my phone pre-dialed to 911 as my friends know that I will go into HYPER SECURITY MODE if someone was to knock on our door at that hour..

So how can you help her?

Tell her to NEVER answer her door at that time - to call the police.

Help her by installing motion detector lights all around her house.

While the big shoes and the dog bowl are good ideas - if they are targeting her - then they KNOW she lives alone and has a yappy those might not deter anyone who is targeting her.

I would advise her to contact ADT or some other alarm company - what about the one that has the bracelet or necklace that she can press the button for emergencies? I don't know how much they are...if she is being targeted, a sign won't do it - because they will look for the tale-tell signs of an alarm - the devices on the windows, etc.

I'll think of more stuf and PM you - does that help?



answers from Washington DC on

Hello, the readers have given you some good advice and I also want to tell you that I am glad that Ms. B know that she can depend on you. I agree that after a certain time she should not go to her door, no matter what. Also, I think that she should started doing her routine a little different to throw anyone off. Call the police and report it so they can keep an eye on her. It is people like you that make a neighborhood a great place to live. thank you for watching out for your neighbor. God Bless you and your family


answers from San Antonio on

like B said -- my 92 yr old grandma has a gun loaded and ready to go in her house. She lives out in the country by herself.

Pepper spray might be a good idea too.

Air horn? That'd wake you up, plus a few other neighbors, if someone were to really be in her home.

Her dog sounds like although it's a pug, it's a good watch dog, to at least signal her of any potential danger.

Remind her that there is no reason she needs to go to the door at 2am. No matter who it is, she doesn't need to go to the door. If they say "Police m'am. open up please" she does NOT need to go to the door w/o calling the police first to check why on earth they'd at her house at 2am.

You're a great neighbor, R.. :)

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