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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.
Nearly 2 million burglaries are reported in the United States every year and only 17 percent of homeowners have a home security system. Experts highly recommended that you pick up a home security system in order to monitor your home for potential break-ins, but there are several things you can do to add an extra level of protection to your home. Here are just five simple things you can do to make your home less susceptible to burglaries. 1. Lock Your Doors and Windows This is the simplest and most effective method, and hopefully, you're doing this out of habit. High-quality door locks can be purchased at any home improvement store for about the same price as a night out to the movies. If you have a deadbolt lock, that's excellent. Aluminum window sills are dangerous because they can be easy to break into, so consider replacing those. Make sure to test your windows to be sure the locks are solid before leaving the house or going to bed. Some home security companies have developed tools that allow you to lock your doors remotely. All you need is a mobile device with a special app and the corresponding electronic locks. If you leave for work or to go on vacation and you've forgotten to lock your doors, all you need to do is open up your app and tap a few buttons. It's that simple. As long as you have internet access, you're secure. 2. Make Your House Look Lived In The key to making your house looking lived in is to be realistic. If a burglar stalking your home notices that the living room light is still on at 3:00 in the morning, that may look a little suspicious. Keep a porch light on at both the front and back of your home during the night. Also, keep your blinds open or closed according to your usual habits. If you normally keep them open, but then you close them, this is a sign that you're not home. Home automation can make this job easier as well. Some advanced home security systems will have functions that allow you to turn lights on or off remotely or even set them on a timer if you're away. This is especially helpful if you're away for an extended period of time, such as a vacation. 3. Install a Stronger Back Door Many houses come with a strong, attractive front door. Homeowners may think this would be ideal for protecting against burglars and predators. Well, that's not exactly the case. Burglars are actually much more likely to break in through your back door, and if you have a weak door made of cheap wood with an old, inexpensive lock, a burglar can have access to your home with one well-placed kick. It would be smart to get that replaced sooner rather than later. Go to your local home improvement store and consult with an expert about what doors are best. Make sure to take the measurements of your door before you go. Most doors have standard sizes, but you don't want to buy a door only to take it home and discover it's the wrong size. Also, be sure to get a tough deadbolt lock to match. It won't cost much more. 4. Get a Dog Dogs aren't a sure-fire way to ward off burglars, but it's enough to make them think twice. Burglars want to get in and out quickly and dealing with a dog introduces too many variables: "Are they going to bark a lot and alert the sleeping family or neighbors? Are they friendly? If not, do I want to risk getting bitten? How will I distract the dog?" Most burglars will pass up a home with a dog to pursue an easier target. If you already have a dog, consider getting a "beware of dog" sign and put it somewhere obvious that prowlers will be sure to see. 5. Put Things in front of Windows Make life as difficult as possible for burglars if they decide to climb through a window. Put objects in front of a window like tables and desks with plants or pictures. If a burglar pulls open a window and tries to climb through, they will have an array of noisy obstacles to overcome before they can get inside. Most burglars will spend less than two minutes trying to ransack a house, so if they have to spend longer than this just getting inside, they'll usually move along. The Extra Mile These steps are simple, but getting a dog or replacing a door might still cost a penny or two. If you're planning on spending a few bucks to beef up your personal security habits, don't rule out researching home security systems. Some systems cost much less than you may think, and many of these home automation features mentioned earlier are becoming more affordable. Take a look at top companies to see if any of their pricing plans fit your budget and needs.