My Home Was Burglarized…Now What? Steps to Take After Becoming A Victim and How to Keep It from Happening Again
Having your home burglarized is high on the list of fears that homeowners face. Unfortunately, for many it will be come a reality, and it can be devastating. Not only do you lose your belongings through the theft itself, but you also lose your peace of mind and sense of security in your own home, and that can cause extreme anxiety in an already stressful situation. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare won’t make going through a burglary easy if or when it does happen to you, but it can help you have a sense of control and make it a bit easier to put one foot in front of the other and move forward.
So, if your home is broken into, what should you do first?
- If you are home at the time of the burglary, chances are, the potential thief will run. This does NOT mean that you don’t need to call the police. Just because nothing was taken from you, the burglar could simply hit the home of one of your neighbors who isn’t as lucky. If you hear or see someone trying to break into your home, or the home of someone else, immediately call 911 and report the incident. It could stop the burglary before it happens! If you come home and suspect your home has been broken into (broken window, door ajar, etc.) don’t go inside. There is always a risk that the suspect could be inside. Instead, get back into the car, lock the doors, and call the police, OR head to a neighbor’s home to call 911 and wait until help arrives.
- Once inside your home, avoid touching surfaces. While it’s tempting to go through all of your belongings and see what was taken, fingerprints are valuable evidence in prosecuting burglary, and due to their fragile state you could be destroying your chances of “catching the bad guy” unintentionally. Instead, let the police do the work of collecting evidence and assisting you in assessing damages and taking inventory.
- Once the police have what they need, assess your situation. If your home sustained damage that can’t be quickly and easily repaired (like broken widows or doors) you might need to arrange for lodging until you can get them fixed. Even if your home didn’t sustain damage, some homeowners need a couple of nights away to recuperate and mentally regroup before sleeping in their own home again.
- Call your insurance company. The earlier you let your provider know what’s happened, the sooner than can get the ball rolling toward your compensation and benefits by sending an adjuster out, collecting necessary evidence and records from police, etc. Waiting around can not only make it more difficult to get your claim handled in a timely manner, but it can also allow time for details to get muddled, information to be lost, etc. and that can make it harder to get your claim.
- Finally, decide how to keep yourself from becoming a victim again. Look for weak points in your home and beef up security in those areas. Change out door locks, add lighting to make it harder for a criminal to hide out near your home, trim back shrubs and trees, etc. Investing in a security and alarm system is a great way to make yourself less likely to fall prey to a thief, and it can even get you a discount on your homeowner’s insurance premium. Bonus!
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that homeowner’s coverage is only helpful during a fire or natural disasters. Theft and vandalism are covered (at least in part) by most providers, and your insurance advisor can walk you through exactly which benefits are available to you if you have found yourself the victim of a robbery. Carroll Marshall Insurance walks through life with our clients, and our goal is to make coverage as easy and smooth as possible during stressful circumstances. We want to help you get the coverage you need. Call us!