Self-help without the help

Today’s St. Paul Pioneer Press carries a vivid account of a resident who foiled a burglary in progress in his home:

The security alarm sounded in Jon Sokol’s St. Paul home early Wednesday while he and his wife were asleep.

He looked up the stairs from their lower-level bedroom and saw a man, dressed all in black, walk by. Sokol, 49, grabbed a revolver — he started keeping a gun in the home after it was burglarized 20 years ago — and went upstairs, Sokol said Thursday.

The burglar, who Sokol thinks was hiding behind a door, hit him in the forehead when he got upstairs. The gun went off, and the burglar flew back a few feet, landing on the floor, Sokol said.

“I held him at gunpoint, and I told him: ‘Do not move. Don’t you dare move — otherwise I will shoot,’ ” Sokol said. “He did not move.”

The account is followed by self-help tips courtesy of St. Paul police crime prevention coordinator Pam McCreary:

Check that doors and locks are secure, and make sure doors and windows are locked at all times, even if you’re out in the yard. “Burglars watch that stuff,” McCreary said. “And if you’re in the back yard, they’ll go in the front door and be in and out before you notice.”

Leave lights and television or radio on while you are away or put them on a timer. Use motion detector lights outdoors.

Consider having windows pinned — it allows windows to be opened just four inches, but you can pull the pin out if you need to leave through the window in an emergency.

Be familiar with your neighbors. Join a block club. If you’ll be gone, let your neighbor know so he or she can report suspicious activity. Have someone pick up your newspaper and mail.

Don’t leave garage doors up or service doors unlocked.

The tips do not include the proposition that a sidearm might come in handy if all else fails.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds adds his self-help tip to the list.

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