A home burglary is an awful experience, regardless of whether things were stolen or damaged or not. The mere thought of strangers being inside your home feels like a personal violation and the impact of that on your sense of safety and privacy is, for many of us, the worst part. We don’t even think about what to do after a home burglary until it has happened to us and by then we are too shaken to think clearly enough to act.
The experience can be quite a shock, so it’s a good idea to keep a list somewhere safe so if you are ever unfortunate enough to find your house is broken into, you’ll know what to do.
Record what happened
While everything is fresh in your mind and before anything is moved, make a note of what happened, as best you can, from your perspective. Write it down on scrap paper or maybe take a quick video of yourself with your mobile phone, talking through the events. Make sure you include things such as the time you think it happened, what you saw if you disturbed the intruders mid robbery (how many of them, appearance, clothing, behaviour etc) and which direction they fled in, if you saw them leave.
Call the police
Although this should be the first thing you do, they may arrive quickly so having recorded what you remembered immediately will make it easier on you (and them) when they arrive and start asking you lots of questions. If you think they may intercept the intruders en route, then call them first!
Survey the scene
While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, take photos of any damage caused or any evidence that someone was there – an open window, a dirty footprint, or even a fingerprint on glass that you were sure was not there before. Take a good look around and check if anything is missing or damaged and take photos of the place where it was or the damaged items or areas. Start a list of missing or damaged items. Think about where all of your valuables are (or were), check for them and add any discrepancies to the list. These are all things you may need to include on your insurance claim.
Make the necessary reports and calls
Be as involved as you can in the police report. You may be able to make it on the spot with the police, or they’ll invite you to go to the nearest station to provide a detailed report. Give as much detail as possible and then ask for a copy of the report. Once you have that, call your insurance company and let them know you need to make a claim (if anything is missing or damaged). Once you have jumped through the insurance company’s hoops, call your real estate agent – if you are renting – and let them know what has happened. Any or all of these entities may ask you to send them photos so do that immediately if you can. Finally call a close friend for support – you’ll no doubt be shaken up so get someone to come and sit with you, preferably bearing sweet tea – or something a little stronger for medicinal purposes.
Review your home security
You may want to wait to hear back from the police as they might discover more details that give you clearer insight into what happened. However, you can check the entry points the burglars used and decide if there is something you can do to improve security now. From locks on windows to full scale alarms and security cameras, there are plenty of comprehensive options for home security these days, so consider what you can do, what you can afford, and implement whatever you can fast. Remember, even if nothing was missing, they’ve been inside your house now; they know how to get in and they know what’s still inside. If you’re renting, check your lease for replacement key options and talk to your agent for advice on safety at your rental property. You may want to get the locks changed or even install temporary locking mechanisms on doors and windows in the short term.
So, hopefully it never happens to you, but if you are unlucky enough to have your house broken into, what to do will be as easy as checking the steps off this list.