Written by: Aaron Hall | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: July 29th, 2020
There's no way around it; having your house broken into is jarring and emotionally taxing. Your home is supposed to be your safe haven, a place to rest and be with your loved ones, so when an intruder with dark motives breaks through to steal your valuables, the feeling of violation can be overwhelming. What do you do when this happens? Here are a few things you need to do right away to ensure the process is done properly and to prevent future incidents from happening:
Don't touch anything!
Seriously, hands off. Instead, cancel whatever else you have going on and whip out your camera. Take as many pictures as possible and save them somewhere where they won't likely get deleted. Don't move anything. Take pictures of damage done by the burglars, things you've lost, or anything else that looks out of place or missing. These pictures will be useful when you contact the police and your insurance agency.
If you've got a security system, consult the footage from the break-in. If you or your installers placed the cameras correctly, you should have footage of the perpetrators' faces, which will make them easier to identify and prosecute. Do what you can to access and save the footage so you can use it as evidence in the future.
File a victim's report
Now that you've taken pictures, call the police immediately. The sooner you call, the more likely you'll be able to get your stuff back and find the burglars. When the police arrive, they'll be able to survey your home and might even be able to figure out how the burglars got in. More importantly, they'll help you get a victim's report filled out, which will put the incident on file. Your police officer should give you details on your reporting options.
The police might be willing to take a file of the security footage, but if not, make sure you record the sex, approximate age, race, and clothing of the burglar(s). If you were outside your house while the burglary occurred and you happened to see the burglars, don't intervene, but do record where they went.
File an insurance claim
Take a copy of your police report to your renter's or homeowner's insurance company immediately after you contact the police. You'll need an itemized list of everything that was stolen. Record as much as you can remember. Also, keep a tally of everything that was broken during the burglary, including windows, doors, furniture, and anything else you can think of. After you report all this to your insurance agency (including whatever else they request), they should send a claims adjuster to your home to investigate in person.
When the adjuster comes to your home, be prepared to explain the situation of the break-in and your income and provide as much proof as you can. It's not a bad idea to stay in a hotel or with a friend or family member until the adjuster shows up. Do as little as you can to tamper with the scene because there might be important evidence that could still be found.
Get to know your neighbors
If you haven't already, get to know your neighbors. Talk to them and explain that you experienced a break-in, and you could help them prevent the same situation. They might also volunteer to keep an eye out if they notice anyone suspicious in the neighborhood. In future incidents, your neighbors could be useful in helping your home look lived in while you're away. Set up a mutual relationship with them where you do yard work or take out the trash occasionally when the other is gone.
Do some research to see if your neighborhood includes a watch program. This will provide a great network of other individuals who will help keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
Rebuild and repair
This can be the hardest part. Having your home broken into can be a traumatizing experience, and moving on from that is no simple task. It's natural to feel distracted or hazy during the days and weeks following the event. Seek the support of family and friends. Clean up the mess left by the burglars, and do your best to bring your home back to normal. It can be difficult overcoming the feelings of shock and disbelief, but over time your house can feel like a home again.
Also, check local classifieds, including Craigslist or pawn shops, to see if any of your stolen items have turned up. This would be helpful information to turn over to the police, and you might even have the opportunity to get your items back. You can replace things like TVs and jewelry, but it's comforting when you can get your original items returned and the burglars one step closer to prosecution.
Consider a home security system
This is a great precaution if you don't already have one. Some top-rated home security companies offer systems for as little as $20 per month, which is about the same price as a pizza delivery. These systems come armed with door sensors, window sensors, and video cameras to keep tabs on important entry ways in your home, and can record surveillance footage to a cloud storage system for later reference. Home security systems can even decrease your homeowner's insurance cost by almost 20 percent per month.
When you install one of these systems, your home is monitored by a team of professionally certified security experts that will keep tabs on your home 24/7, even on holidays. If a sensor is triggered, an alarm will sound and you can have notifications sent immediately to your smartphone. Sometimes, this is enough to send burglars off running, and you can avoid experiencing the hassle of calling the police, filing reports, and replacing stolen goods. Take a look at the best companies in the home security industry and see what options best suit your needs.