This post was originally published on April 18, 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
As a homeowner, you’ve just experienced one of the worst possible scenarios. The place where you and your family are supposed to feel the most secure has just been burglarized. What do you do after your home has been broken into?
Despite how distressed and shaken up you are after a home burglary, it’s essential you take the proper steps to not only address the situation at hand – but to prevent future home break-ins from occurring.
Step 1: Call the police and insurance company.
Your home is now an active crime scene. Your first instinct will be to pick up the mess left by the offender but don’t. Doing so may destroy key evidence that can lead to a conviction and the possible recovery of your stolen items.
- If you have a security camera installed, review the footage and give it to the authorities.
- If you don’t have security cameras, take photos of the scene (after the break-in) and attempt to collect photos of the scene prior to the break-in.
- Make a list of your missing items and be sure to include descriptions and approximate values of each.
Call your insurance company. They will need to send a claims adjuster to your house to evaluate the damage before any repairs can be made. They will require your police report and other documentation such as receipts and the descriptions of your stolen property so be sure to make copies of the originals and keep a set for yourself.
Step 2: Clean up.
It’s been a few days since your home was burglarized. The police and your insurance company have both been by to collect evidence, take pictures and get your statement. Now it’s time to start cleaning up. Here are steps you can take after your home was broken into.
- Board up windows and broken doors until they can be fixed properly. If the thought of an unrepaired entry point into your home makes you nervous, consider staying at a hotel or with a friend until it can be repaired correctly.
- If you had a video system in place, review the footage again. This time pay close attention to how the thief entered your home and whether steps can be taken to prevent it from happening again.
- As hard as it is, try to regain a sense of peace in your home. Physically putting your house back together is an important step to moving past the break-in emotionally.
Step 3: Create a long-term home security plan.
There are short- and long-term solutions you can take to improve the safety of your home to help your home be less of a target. Here are steps you can take as the dust continues to settle.
- Add motion-activated lights to the exterior of your home. These will detect movement at night and illuminate your yard – a major turn off for would-be burglars.
- Always make sure your doors and windows are locked. Up to 30% of burglars enter a home without having to physically break-in because of unlocked entry points.
- Lock up or hide your small valuables. The majority of intruders will head directly to the master bedroom because cash, jewelry, and weapons are usually kept there.
- Putting a “Beware of Dog” or similar sign in your yard can also send a thief running in the other direction. While this isn’t a long-term solution, it can add a layer of security in the interim.
- If you don’t already have a system or camera in place, it may be a good time to consider adding one. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology found that 60% of convicted burglars were deterred by the presence of a security system, leading them to target a different home.
For some, the only way to feel at peace in their home after a robbery is to have a security system installed. Whether or not you fall into this category, be sure to follow these steps and take proper measures to ensure you don’t become a repeat victim.