We've Had a Break-In! What now?
Discovering that you're the victim of property crime is a very scary and unsettling experience. People who find themselves in this situation are often unsure how to respond. During a time when your emotions will want to overtake logic, consider this checklist of things to do:
- Call the Police
- Take Inventory
- Call Your Insurance Company
- Quickly Repair Damage
- Check for Security Weaknesses
- Let Your Neighbors Know
- Take it Easy
Wait for the police to arrive before going inside. We occasionally hear reports of owners who discover an intruder is still present as they are assessing the damage done to their property. These encounters can be very dangerous and we urge you not to put yourself at risk. Let the police do their job and be sure your home or business is safe before you enter it.
Take thorough pictures before touching anything. Be sure to get pictures of the point of entry and write down everything about the break-in. What did they take? Is there any damage? Did the intruder leave anything behind? Go through your security footage if you have a camera system. Depending on your system, your video recordings may re-record over old footage, so be sure to do this soon. Make copies for yourself and the police. Have the police give you the incident or report number before they leave: your insurance representative will ask for it.
Your agent will help you to know which items and damage are covered by your insurance plan. Provide any records you've kept such as receipts, photographs, and serial numbers of major purchases. This is one preparation you can do BEFOREHAND. Well prepared people have a better chance of getting larger insurance reimbursements. Also, this same information will aid the police in identifying your property. If your insurance agent thinks the home invasion may raise your rates, ask him if additional security measures, such as security cameras, would bring those rates back down again.
Thieves can be messy. Repair any damage from his break-in-point immediately. The unfortunate reality is that an intruder will often target your home again, usually within a week. He'll use the same entry point if it's available, so be sure to repair that damage quickly. Is there a weak door jamb? Fix and secure it as quickly as you can. Is there a broken window? Replace broken panes or board up your window in the meantime.
Intruders usually target ground level entry points such as a front or back door. If the intruder broke a window, you can repair it, but you may be nervous he will simply break it again. You can reinforce weak points like this with glass break sensors or security cameras. You can install a camera directly outside or even inside, pointing towards the window. Additionally, go through each of your perimeter doors. Are the locks up to date? Many thieves know how to overcome old locks, even deadbolts. Update all of your perimeter doors with high security deadbolts, and talk with a locksmith about other security measures you can add.
If a thief targeted your home, he targeted your neighborhood first. Talk to your neighbors about the break-in. It is not uncommon for a thief to come back and he may have been scoping out your neighbor's homes at the same time as yours. Consider implementing a neighborhood watch, or if nothing else, agree to be alert and pay attention to each other's homes and property. Let thieves know that your neighborhood will not be an easy target.
Going through something of this magnitude is hard on you and it will take time to recover. If you can, take a personal day off work to take care of things. Be easy on yourself during this time. The feelings unearthed by a home invasion are intense and you may find it helpful to talk with a counselor. It could take some time to feel safe in your own home again. This is normal. Take time to process your feelings and recover.
Stay tuned for more safety tips brought to you by Lake Arrowhead Security.