Your home is your sanctuary. It’s the place you relax, spend time with family and friends, and live your life. But a break-in can shatter that sense of safety and security. How do you pick up the pieces, literally and figuratively?
Let’s go through the process of what to do after a break-in.
- Leave home and call the police
The first thing you’ll want to do after a break-in is to leave your home immediately and call the police. You won’t know exactly when the burglary happened, and whether there’s an intruder still inside. You shouldn’t walk around inside—your house being broken into is enough to warrant a call to police.
You and your family will want to find a safe place outside your home to wait for police to arrive. Get into your car and lock the doors, or go to a neighbor’s home. While you wait, look around to see if there are any unfamiliar cars parked near your home, or on your street. It’s worth writing down a license plate number and vehicle description to share with police, if you see anything suspicious.
What if you interrupt a home invasion? Read more on how to survive a break-in.
- Don’t touch anything
Your first impulse after discovering a break-in might be to walk around your home and assess the damage and figure out what’s been stolen. Ignore this impulse, call the police, and get out of the house.
If you touch surfaces in the house, or clean up broken items, you’ll be destroying potential evidence. Fingerprints could be on doorknobs, objects, or furniture, or there may be other clues you won’t want to sully. If you see an object or clothing item that doesn’t belong to your family, don’t touch it. Share that information with police when they arrive.
- File a police report and contact your insurance company
It might not be obvious right away everything that was stolen. You could discover a few days later that a piece of jewelry or small electronic item is gone too. Keep a running list of what you discover is missing, and make sure you file a police report once the list is complete.
You’ll also want to inform your insurance company of the break-in. The company will want to see copies of the police report, your list of missing items, and any other official documents.
- Clean up
Once you’ve gotten clearance from police to do so, clean up your house and any damage or debris as soon as possible. If a door or window was broken, fix it sooner rather than later. Physical reminders of the break-in can cause further stress in the days to come, so regain a sense of control by putting things back in order.
It may take you and your family awhile to feel safe and secure in your home again. This is totally normal. Spend extra time with your children, and make sure you talk with them about what happened, and what measures are being taken to make sure a break-in doesn’t happen again.
- Prevent future break-ins
Lightning may not strike the same place twice, but break-ins can. Now that your home has been broken into, it’s important to take steps to make your home even safer, by stepping up your security measures.
Consider installing an alarm monitoring system. Replacing locks on doors and windows, putting up motion lights, and securing valuables in a safe are all good ideas.
Article Photo By: goatling, July 7, 2015 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.
In-Copy Photo By: Eastlake Times, July 7, 2015 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.