What to Do After a Burglary
Being the victim of a burglary is a fear that many homeowners and renters have. While burglary statistics vary depending upon the state you live in, overall burglary rates continue to climb each year.
In this tough economy, it is particularly important that people take extra precautions to secure their homes. Should you be the victim of a burglary, it is important that you follow certain procedures to ensure the safety of yourself and your family.
What You Should Do First
If you enter your home and find that it has been burglarized, the first thing you should do is leave. Regardless of how tempting it might be to go through your home to try to determine what is missing, you need to resist that temptation. Always remember that the burglar(s) could still be inside your home and it would be dangerous for you to confront them.
As soon as you have left your home you need to call the police. Make sure you are a safe distance away from your home before you place the call. If possible, go to a neighbor's house. At the very least, get back in your car and lock the doors.
In addition to the safety issue, it is also important that you avoid touching anything in your home, and this includes the phone. While it might seem odd to think of a burglar taking the time to use your phone, such things have happened before. You certainly don't want to mess up any fingerprints that the burglar may have left behind, so remember to use either your cell phone or a neighbor's phone to call the police.
Call Your Insurance Agent
Provide your Agent with the following:
Date and approximate time of Incident
Police Agency Notified
Agency Report Number
Any details regarding incident
List of Items stolen. To include approximate values.
Helpful documentation (bill of sale, receipt, owner's manual, pictures, anything showing proof of ownership)
Pictures of the scene may be helpful to the adjuster; however, take special care as to not interfere in the police investigation.
Make reasonable repairs but do not throw away any damaged items/material
Beef Up Your Home Security
After you have cleaned up the mess and taken stock of your belongings, you will undoubtedly want to take extra steps to reinforce the security of your home. One of the most obvious things to do is have an alarm system installed. These can be somewhat expensive, however, and they are not necessarily within everyone's budget. Fortunately, there are other things you can do in an effort to make your home more secure.
Make sure all of your windows are securely locked and that they cannot easily be tampered with. If you think you have some locks that might not stand up to someone trying to forcefully break through them, consider upgrading your locks. For lower level windows, it is always a good idea to leave mini-blinds and curtains closed, particularly when you are going to be away from home for a while. If burglars can't look inside to see what you have, then they will be far less likely to be motivated to find a way inside your home.
Use landscaping to your advantage. Try not to let the shrubs around your house grow out of control. If they get too tall or too full they make great hiding places for would-be burglars. Keep them trimmed so that no one can hide in them without easily being spotted. You might also consider planting some thorny shrubs as an extra defense. If you plant shrubs with thorns around your house, particularly under windows, you will be more likely to successfully keep burglars out of your home.
Another great idea is to put timers on your lights. Timers are very inexpensive (usually no more than $5 or $10) and they allow you to cycle your lights on and off during times when you are not home. Burglars will typically avoid homes that are lit up because they assume that someone is home, so this is an excellent way to keep your home secure.