7 Steps to Take After Your Home Has Been Broken Into

Unfortunately, break-ins are surprisingly common crimes. In the US alone, there are almost three burglaries every minute. Most of these occur during the day, which is when you and your family are likely out at work or school. 

Coming back to your home and discovering that someone has broken in can be incredibly distressing. Your home is where you’re supposed to feel safe and comfortable, but a break-in can ruin all of that. However, there are steps that you can take to mitigate the pain of this event.

1. Call the Authorities

It’s difficult to think clearly when you’ve just discovered that your home has been broken into, but now is the time to act. The sooner you take practical steps, the more quickly you can move on from this. 

With this in mind, you should act immediately once you’ve discovered that your home has been broken into. The first thing you should do is to call the police. Explain what has happened and an officer should arrive soon so that you can make a police report. 

If the police are involved immediately, then they might be able to find the perpetrator. However, don’t get your hopes up. Often it’s very difficult to recover your possessions this way. Calling the police will help your insurance claim though, so it’s always recommended.

2. Don’t Disturb the Scene

Your initial instinct will likely be to clean up the mess left behind by the break-in. It’s natural to want to make your house a home again. However, this isn’t a good idea. If you go around touching things and tidying up, you’re removing any evidence of the break-in. 

Remember that this is a criminal activity, so this evidence is important to the police. Your home insurance provider will also want evidence of the break-in. But what can you do instead?

3. Take Pictures

While it’s painful, the best thing to do is to preserve the scene as much as possible. This helps when it’s time to claim on your home insurance, as you’re providing evidence of what has happened. 

It’s not practical to keep your house in that state forever, of course. Instead, go around taking pictures of your home. Include broken doors and windows, open drawers and cupboards, damaged items, and even empty spaces where your property has been removed. You could also capture a video of you walking around the house so that you’re less likely to miss anything.

4. Cancel Stolen Cards

If you had any cards in the house that are now missing, contact your bank or credit card immediately and cancel them. The sooner you do this, the less opportunity a burglar has to use your cards. If some money has been taken out, you may be able to work with your bank.

Mobile phones, tablets, and laptops may have bank account details and login information on them, so you should also inform your finance provider if these have been stolen. While you’re at it, if your mobile phone has been stolen, then contact your phone provider to stop your account. Change any important passwords as soon as possible.

5. Make an Inventory

This comes hand in hand with taking pictures of your property in that it will help you with your insurance claim later on. Collect evidence of any items that have been stolen from your home or damaged, such as receipts, photographs, or valuations. If you can estimate the value of these items, it will smooth the process. Whatever you do, don’t dispose of damaged items that may need to be inspected.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell what has been taken, especially if the house is a mess and you’re missing small, valuable items. These are also the most likely things to be taken. If your house has been broken into, look for:

  • Purses, wallets, cards, and money
  • Computers and equipment
  • Jewelry and watches
  • Electronics, like cameras or tablets

These items are most likely to be stolen from your home. If you have a shed or workshop, check on your tools and they can also be targets for theft. 

Another concern is your identity. If a burglar takes your passport or driving license, then you should contact the providers so that replacements can be made and your previous copies can be made invalid. If someone tries to use your identity using these items, there’s a chance that they may be caught through this action.

6. Contact Your Insurer

As soon as you know what’s been impacted and you have an inventory, call your insurance company with a list of the stolen or damaged items. You should do this within 24 hours. Make sure that you’ve given the police all of the necessary information so that the insurance company can process your claim.

If they want to investigate the claim in person, it’s best to stay somewhere safe so that you don’t clean up and tamper with the evidence. Depending on your family situation, you may want to stay with a trusted friend or family member to help distract your children from what has just happened.

7. Repair, Resecure, and Recover

Once the insurance company says that you can tidy up your home, then go ahead. It may be nice to have friends and family to help, as this can be a difficult task, especially if there has been a lot of damage. As well as helping you to recover, this clean-up may result in you finding something that belongs to the burglar. If so, report it to the police right away.

Once the house is tidied up, you should secure it. Call a locksmith to replace any broken locks and possibly replace them with more secure ones. Take other measures as well, such as installing an alarm system and cameras to deter burglars. Look for weak points in your security system, which were likely taken advantage of. 

Recovering from a break-in can be a lengthy and difficult process, but you and your family can get there with help. Consider therapy to help you to feel more secure. 

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