No one wants to go through the experience of coming home to find that your home has been broken into and that valuables have been stolen. Most of us are aware that the first thing you should do upon discovering you’ve been robbed is contacting the police. Beyond that, the fear and shock caused by your home becoming a crime scene can make it difficult to think clearly about what to do next.
The most important element is the safety of lives. If you arrive home to the scene of a break in, try not to enter your home alone. If possible, you should contact the police from inside your vehicle or a trusted neighbour’s house, and then wait for law enforcement and a local security company to arrive so you can re-enter your home with them. This is to protect you and your family from possible harm if one or more perpetrators are still on the premises, as well as keep you from accidentally destroying evidence which can help identify the criminals.
Secure Rite shares some key steps on what to do once you are back in your home after a break in:
1. Take photos and make a list of what’s missing
Once the police says you can, perform a walkthrough of your house and make a list of everything that is missing. You will need this list for the police report (incident number) and to declare losses for insurance.
Be as descriptive as possible when you create your list. This task is much easier if you have previously created a personal asset inventory you can refer to while doing your walkthrough. If you don’t have an inventory, try to be as specific as you can with brand names and item descriptions.
If possible, take photos or shoot a video of every relevant bit of visual evidence. This includes any damage done to doors or windows and any areas of your home where objects were taken from.
2. Arrange for emergency repairs to re-secure your home
Depending on how the thieves broke into your house, you may need to arrange to re-secure your residence. If one or more windows were broken to gain access to your home, call an emergency glass service to replace them. If your door was jimmied or broken through, or if you think the robber got a hold of a spare door key, get an emergency locksmith to come to replace door locks and cut new keys.
It’s a good idea to ask the police or a security company if there are any other measures you should take in the first day or two following a robbery. The officers have seen dozens if not hundreds of burglaries, and can often give you valuable information about re-securing your home.
Keep all of your receipts for any locksmith or glass repair services you get. Many insurance companies will cover these costs as part of your burglary claim.
3. Contact your insurance company
Your next call should definitely be to your insurance company to firstly inform them of the break-in and secondly to understand what information they require for your claim process.
Insurance claims will usually require a case or incident number from the local SAPS to process anything. They will also need the list of stolen items you created during your initial walkthrough.
4. Make your space comfortable again
Once the police and insurance company have all the information they need, it’s time to get your home back in order. Cleaning up and restoring order can help you address the uneasy feelings of anxiety caused by the robbery. Do what you need to do to make yourself comfortable in your space again.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to family and friends to help you during this time. A robbery is a very personal form of violation, and it can help to have someone you trust to assist with the clean-up, or even just be a sympathetic ear while you process the event.
5. Improve your home or business security
While some people believe that adding security features to their home after an incident takes place is pointless, there is no time like the present to beef up your home security. Remember, if your home has been successfully burgled, they could be back before you know it. Security features will make your home less attractive to potential thieves and therefore greatly reduces the chances of a repeat incident.
Home security includes perimeter features and reactive features. Contact a local security partner like Secure Rite for a full assessment of your needs.
Here are some popular home security options:
- Security cameras
- Door reinforcing
- Window reinforcing
- Exterior lighting and motion sensors
- Alarm systems
- Armed Response
Make sure you let your insurance company know about any home security measures you put in place; adding security features may result in a discount on your homeowner’s insurance premiums.
Crime is a very real reality in our world and break-in events happen daily. Contact Secure Rite for a free assessment of your home or business needs. Our wide variety of security options will be all you need to keep you, your family and your belongings as safe as possible.