It’s something that tops many of our list of fears. You come home to find a broken window, or a door ajar and immediately notice valuables missing. If you have the misfortune of your home being broken into and burglarized, your mind will begin to race, and many new fears may come into play. What did they take? Are they still in your home? Will they return? A home break-in is an intimate crime that can leave the victim feeling vulnerable and exposed. It is very important to take these steps in the moments following a break-in to help regain a sense of security and comfort.
- Get to a safe location. Whether you were home or away during the time of the break-in, it is crucial to make sure you and your family remain safe during the moments following the intrusion. Have a safe location (either in or out of your home) predetermined with your family so everyone knows where to meet to discuss the next steps.
- Call the police. Once safe, dial 911 to report the crime and have the police dispatched to your location to file a report. It is important to tell the dispatcher your whereabouts during the time of the break-in, as it can determine the severity of the crime. A break-in when no one is home is classified as a burglary, whereas a break-in with people in the house is a robbery or home invasion. This will help inform the police's response.
- Take inventory of missing items. Wait until the police arrive to do a full assessment of your home to ensure the criminal is no longer on your property. It is recommended that you first look for any items that could be dangerous, such as firearms or prescription medication. Next, look for your high value items such as jewelry and high-end electronics. Any receipts or serial numbers you have for these items will be extremely helpful for both police reports and insurance claims.
- Contact the insurance company. Once the police have filed a report, contact your insurance company. To file a robbery or burglary claim, the insurance company will need the police report, so this step should be done after the police have surveyed the scene. That being said, the quicker you can file the claim, the better. If done within 48 hours of crime and with solid documentation, there is a strong chance you can reclaim much of the value of your stolen items.
- Clean up from the break-in. A break-in can leave you feeling vulnerable, but the cleaning and repairing of your home can be an important step in the healing process. Find the point-of-entry for the criminal and address that first; whether it’s fixing a broken window or re-keying your locks. Reassess your home's general security measures to help prevent a future break-in.
- Invest in a security system. A survey of 300 burglars by the U.S. Department of Justice reported that 80 percent of burglars would check for signs of an alarm system when deciding their target, and 60 percent of them would always pick a different home to enter when a security system was present. The yard signs and window stickers you receive with your security system are a surefire signal to would-be burglars that your home is protected and not to be messed with. However, if one of these criminals makes the mistake of breaking into a home with a monitored security system, our trained dispatchers will contact you and dispatch the police on your behalf, whether you’re home or away. The sound of the alarm and our dispatcher asking the intruder to identify themselves through the two-way speaker on the security panel are powerful tools for getting the criminal to exit your home quickly without the ability to cause much damage or get their hands on your valuables.
The moments following a break-in are emotional, but the steps your take are crucial to help minimize your loss and help to rebuild your peace of mind. While we never expect these crimes to happen to us, understanding what to do in this situation and how to prevent it from happening all together can help us sleep better at night.