February 25th, 2015
Hopefully this never happens to you. Many home robberies are unfortunately done by local, bored teenagers who live within a certain radius and who were watching your home for an hour or two, or by semi-professionals who have been watching your home for a week or more.
Once a house has been targeted, the burglar parks his car around the block and walks to your front door. He (or she….but we’ll stick to “he” for easier readability) may even have a professional looking hat or badge and a clipboard. He’ll go right up and ring the front doorbell. If someone comes to the door, he’ll pretend to be selling something door to door or have a story that he’s looking for a different house. If there’s no answer, he’ll typically head around to the back of the house, looking for a way in without attracting too much attention. First try to force the back door.
Most burglars don’t bother picking locks because they know they’ll be able to quickly gain entry by cruder methods. If he can’t get in through the back door, he’ll try a window or possibly the garage door. While burglars would prefer to work in the cover of darkness, they also do not want to confront anyone, and generally choose to operate during the day when the house is more likely to be unoccupied.
Unfortunately, hey don’t much care if your alarm goes off. They know that most neighbors won’t pay attention, if they are home at all. The police or security company won’t arrive in time. The burglar is usually in and out within eight minutes or less. He’ll go straight for the master bedroom, looking for jewelry, money, and drugs. If he finds a gun or laptop computer or something else that’s relatively small and of high value, he’ll grab that. He may take a quick sweep through other areas of the house, especially the living room, dining room, and den. He will never go down in the basement, up in the attic, or into any confined area for fear of being trapped there should the homeowner or police arrive. That’s also why he also prefers single story homes.
Whose home is the most targeted? Unfortunately, townhouses often have poorly secured sliding glass doors and small enclosed back yards, and homes in cul-de-sacs as they’re not patrolled as regularly.
First, call the police. Immediately. Don’t go into your home. Wait outside or at a neighbors. If the burglar or burglars are still inside, you could get hurt if they got startled.
Additionally, the police will write up a report that you will need for your insurance claim.
Once you get the all clear, start to inventory what is missing. You should probably write it down in a notebook as you’ll find more stuff missing as time goes on. This way, you’ll have a written record that will help you with the replacement value.
Check on your pets. Hopefully they didn’t get out, but if they did, look on local sites such as Next Door, or perhaps your neighborhood has a Yahoo group. Let them know if a pet is missing and that you were robbed. Someone may have seen something that will help in the capture of the thief.
If a door or window was broken, you will want to tape cardboard or nail some wood over it to protect it from weather until you can get a handyman or glazier in to repair it.
Call your insurance agent as soon as you can to get a claim opened. Different companies have different policies about time limits for your claim. Try to get inventory done as quickly as possible but also as thoroughly as can.
If you haven’t already, place a hold on all three of your credit reports. The thief may have gotten information like your social security number and may try to open up lines of credit in your name. We wrote how to handle that in our blog post What to Do When Your Identity Is Stolen.
You will be astonished by some of the stuff they took and didn’t take. Remember, if it was a crime of opportunity by an amateur, they’ll probably take your pillow case to put the stuff in. And they may not have enough knowledge to know that amber jewelry is worth more then the marquisette jewelry.
They will take all of your electronic equipment, and that includes the disk you use to back up your computer and your pictures. So, make sure you back up your backups somewhere that can’t get stolen.
If you etch some identification onto the electronics, there is a good chance it could get traced. Jewelry could get traced if it’s unusual enough.
And often, you’ll feel anger. Talk to friends about it. Don’t keep the anger inside. It may feel like confusion at first, but don’t think you’ll just be ok.
Have you ever had your home burgled?