What to Do After a Break-In
March 25, 2016
Burglaries are emotionally unsettling and can take a toll on your family’s and your psyche. After a break-in you may be quite shaken and not able to think clearly. Follow these bits of advice to ensure your family is protected and your loss is replaced.
- Do not enter your home. If you suspect a break in has happened, call the authorities to confirm the situation. Walking in on an intruder can be dangerous. Do not enter your house if you see any signs of entry, including open doors and windows, broken windows or ripped screens. If you are home and you think someone is trying to break-in, do not confront them. Gather your family in the nearest safe room, lock the door, call 9-1-1 and sound your Kuna’s siren. If possible do not hide in the master bedroom as this is usually a target for thieves.
- While awaiting the police response, begin to write down everything you can remember about the incident including descriptions of anyone you saw. This information can fade quickly so get it on paper. Make a list of any workers or unusual guests you have had recently.
- Don’t touch anything until the police have arrived, checked the house and completed their initial investigation. Once you have permission from the police, begin by taking pictures and video of any damage including where the entry happened. These pictures may help the police and they will definitely be necessary for your insurance company. Call a locksmith out the same day to replace any broken locks. Check your spare keys and have all your locks changed if it looks like any spares are missing or they have been tampered with.
- Make a comprehensive list of everything that is missing or damaged. Be as thorough as possible. If you previously did an inventory for your insurance company, get it out and check every item. Pay particular attention to high value items like jewelry. Provide a copy of the list to police to include in their report. If you notice any items missing later, call the police and have it added to their copy. Provide any serial numbers or other identifying marks that may allow police to identify the items later. Ask the responding officers for their names and a copy of the report. If you need to follow-up later, having the report number and officer’s names will save a lot of trouble.
- While the police are present, review the home security footage from Kuna. It is important to do this while they are present to ensure proper “chain of custody”. Provide a copy to the police and prepare one for your insurance company. Prepare yourself before you view the footage. It can be difficult for some people to view a recording of their home being violated.
- Talk to your neighbors. Even if the police have already spoken to them, they may have remembered something. Ask them about any unusual people or cars. Alert them so they are aware that their home may be targeted next.
- Contact your insurance carrier. Make this call as soon as possible, no later than the next day. Some companies require notification within 24 hours of a break-in so don’t procrastinate. Home insurance companies may have different procedures for claims. Have a copy of any preliminary police reports, names of the officers who responded and your list of damaged and stolen property handy. Calling your insurance company quickly can also help with repairs as many insurers will cover the cost of emergency repairs.
- Call your bank. If there is any chance that a burglar accessed your financial records, call your bank and the issuers for all your credit cards to get new account numbers.
- Protect against another break-in. You might be thinking the old saying “lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice” will apply to burglaries, but you would be wrong. Thieves will believe your home is an easy job and they also know you have recently purchased new belongings to replace what was stolen. If you haven’t installed any security equipment yet, do so as soon as possible. Fully evaluate your home’s security and upgrade where it is needed.
In addition to the financial loss from a break-in a robbery can cause emotional distress. It may take a while before you feel completely safe and secure in your home again. If you or a family member is suffering prolonged emotional distress, seek help. There are many support groups and mental health providers who specialize in victims of crime. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek help, there are people ready to help you heal. Over time your sense of security will return.
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