Not only does it create an enormous inconvenience and substantial financial loss, but a burglary can also be a traumatic affair. Having your home broken into is a severe violation of your privacy, and you may have trouble feeling safe long after you’ve replaced the stolen goods.
But even though burglary is a big deal, you’ll quickly overcome the hurdle and move on with your life. By remaining calm and systematically working through the appropriate steps, you can mitigate the migraine that a burglary entails.
Here’s what you should do if you come home and found your house has been broken into.
Ensure Everyone Is Okay
While it may appear that the thieves gained entry into your property when no one was home, that’s not necessarily the case. Ring around your family members or housemates to check whether any of them were home at the time, and double-check everyone is safe and well.
If somebody was present during the event and has sustained an injury, assess the situation and call 000 if need be.
A burglary is a shocking occurrence that affects everyone in the home. Take the time to reassure your co-inhabitants that you’ve read up on what to do post-burglary and will take appropriate action.
Before you move onto the next step, you want to ensure your home is safe to inhabit again. Remove any obvious hazards, such as sharp glass shards scattered by the front door, so nobody injures themselves.
Take a Breather
There’s no point in moving forward with the following steps if you’re still in a state of shock. Otherwise, you’ll be in too much of a panic to focus properly, inevitably missing crucial details or forgetting essential steps.
Give yourself time to come to terms with what’s happened, whether that be a few minutes or the entire afternoon. If nobody has been injured, there’s no need to leap into action straight away.
Nonetheless, you’ll need to clean up the mess before reinhabiting your home, so don’t delay for too long. As soon as you’re feeling calm and composed enough to proceed, move onto the next step.
Assess What’s Missing and Take Detailed Notes
Once you’ve given yourself sufficient time to relax, start sifting through the scene to determine what’s missing.
Take detailed notes of each stolen item, either with pen and paper or a spreadsheet on your laptop/phone, to compile a comprehensive list. Add an approximate replacement value to each item – you can sift through your receipts to find a precise price later.
Take photos of the empty space where the stolen items once sat as well as any signs of forced entry, such as broken locks or smashed windows. The more in-depth documentation you can gather, the easier it’ll be to report the burglary to the police and your insurance company.
Also, take note of the time and date you returned home and when you last left the house. This information gives police a timeframe of when the intruder gained entry into the home.
While you’re wading through the damage, try not to touch or move anything. The police may want to dust the scene for fingerprints – that’s especially true if they already have a suspect in mind.
File a Police Report
Call the Police Assistance number in your state (remember, 000 is only for emergencies) and ask to file a report. In Australia, property crimes can only be reported in person, so you’ll need to set a time to visit your local police station.
Most will arrange for you to come the same day, although some may request you arrive at a later date. The case handler can advise over the phone whether you can start cleaning up the mess.
When you go to make the report, be sure to bring all the documentation you’ve gathered on a USB thumb drive or your phone.
Even if you believe the police won’t succeed in retrieving the stolen goods, it’s still worth making a report. Habitual burglars do frequently get caught, and you’ll be providing crucial crime data to help keep other residences safe.
Clean Up the Mess
Now the police have given you the go-ahead, it’s time to start cleaning up the mess. Return knocked-over items to where they once stood and sweep up any break-in-related debris.
Once you’ve restored the aesthetic order of your home, it’ll be easier to put the burglary behind you.
Contact your Insurance Company
If you have home and contents insurance, your provider may compensate you for the stolen items.
Give your insurance company a call or check their website for more information on how to proceed. Much like filing a police report, you’ll need detailed information on each stolen item. Your insurance company may ask for evidence you owned them, so it’s always wise to hang onto receipts.
While home and contents insurance can prove invaluable at times like these, it’s crucial to keep your expectations in check. You won’t necessarily receive full compensation for the total value of the items lost in the break-in.
Talk it Through
Burglary is a stressful experience, but most people recover rather quickly. A home invasion, however, can lead to long-lasting emotional trauma, potentially prompting severe mental health conditions like anxiety and PTSD.
If you or a householder is suffering severely, consider seeking psychiatric help. Counselling may be covered under your health insurance plan or employee assistance program.
In either case, you might not feel comfortable residing in your home immediately after the event. There’s no shame in asking a friend or family member if you can stay with them for a little while.
Safeguard your Home
A sure-fire way to regain a sense of safety is to strengthen your home security setup.
Install sturdier locks on the windows or doors the burglar broke in through, and consider investing in burglar-proof screens.
The best way to ward off potential intruders, however, is through a wireless alarm system. These high-tech solutions automatically activate upon detecting motion in your home, forcing would-be burglars to flee.
Throw in a few CCTV cameras visible from the outside, and no burglar would dare attempt to force entry into your home.
Contact your local security professionals today to learn how to fortify your home against intruders.