You have been out and about running errands for hours and you just finished watching your daughter’s volleyball practice. Now, you are both headed home for a much-needed evening of take-out food and TV time on the couch. As you drive up to your home, something seems amiss; as you get closer your heart sinks as you see the broken window in the living room and the front door that is ajar.
Your home has been burglarized. In order to get through this harrowing experience and help ensure that it does not happen again, here are four things you should do.
Call the police
While your first inclination may be to run inside and see what is missing, you need to stay outside and call the police with your cell phone, or if you don’t have it with you, ask to use a neighbor’s phone. As SafeWise notes, touching anything in your home before the police arrive may destroy key evidence they will need to find the burglars and put them behind bars. Plus, there is always a chance that the crooks are hiding in your home, and you do not want to put your family’s safety at risk.
Document damage and missing items
Once the police arrive and secure the scene, then you can go in with them and point out everything that is missing. As Esurance suggests, make a list as you go of anything that is gone or damaged and take photos of broken windows or door jambs, ransacked rooms and/or empty silverware drawers. If you happen to have a list of serial numbers for stolen electronics like computers, locate them if you can and give a copy of the list to the police.
Call your insurance agent
Within 24 hours of the burglary, call your insurance agent to report what happened. Let them know that the police came to the scene, as your agent will need a copy of the police report. Your insurance company may also send over a claims adjuster to check out the situation in person; if this is the case, try to avoid cleaning up the scene and possibly tampering with evidence. If possible, stay in a hotel or with a family friend until all of the experts have gathered what they need from your house.
Take tangible steps to make your home safer
You and your children will understandably be shaken and scared by what happened. To alleviate this fear and reduce the risk of your home being burglarized again, tell your kids you will take serious steps to improve the safety of your home. Invest in extra-durable door and window locks and consider buying motion-activated lights for outside of your doors. Also, purchase a home security camera system that can be installed above doors and windows, and that allows you to remotely view your home security camera footage.
You will get through this
Being a victim of a burglary is a jarring experience. Now, it is time to focus on being a survivor. Follow up with the police and the insurance company to be sure they are doing what they can to process your claim and find the bad guys and focus your energies on improving the security of your home with a security camera system. While you will never forget being burglarized, you can rest assured you are doing everything you can to prevent it from ever happening again.