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What To Do After A Home Invasion

Hanna KielarOctober 03, 2019

If you’re reading this, you might be familiar with the gut-wrenching feeling of finding your home in disarray after a break-in. According to the FBI there were roughly 1.4 million burglaries in the United States in 2017. And if you’ve experienced a burglary firsthand, knowing what to do next can feel overwhelming.

This article will look at what steps to take after a home break-in and how to deal with the stress of such a traumatic event.

Contact The Police

It seems obvious, but the first thing you should do if you come home to a break-in is to call the police. But how you contact them depends on how recent the break-in was. If you’re unsure whether the criminals have left or not, call 911 and an officer will come check your home for you. If you know your home is empty, find the number to your local police station (not 911) and begin a victim’s report. Don’t worry, a police officer will guide you through the process and come to your home to further assess the situation if necessary.

Take Inventory

After a break-in it’s important to take note of what seems to be damaged or missing. It can be hard to remember the exact location and value of everything, but do your best.

Try not to touch anything. The police will need to examine the scene for evidence and insurance companies like to know precise details. For that reason, also be sure to take pictures of the scene.

Notify Your Insurance

After you’ve contacted the police and taken a brief inventory of your home, you’ll want to notify your insurance agency. They’ll help you file a claim and record missing and damaged items. Depending on the severity of the break-in, the insurance agency might send an adjuster to your home to assess the damage.

Don’t panic if you feel underprepared the first time you call. An agent will work with you and help you update your claim later on. Bryan Ochalla from QuoteWizard says, “They should detail and explain what you need to do to get everyone involved started on your break-in and theft claim. If that's not the case or if you feel at all confused or unsure after your chat, don't be shy about asking questions.”

Give Yourself Time To Recover

Don’t expect to recover from a home break-in overnight. It takes time to process an invasion of privacy like this. As stated by Maru Quevedo at ASecureLife, “The emotional toll brought on by a home break-in might linger for days, weeks or even months – and that’s perfectly OK.”

If the experience is causing you considerable anxiety, consider speaking to a therapist or doctor, or reach out to a trusted friend for help. There’s no shame in taking care of yourself after your world has been turned upside down.

Talk To Your Neighbors

If you don’t know your neighbors very well, most neighborhoods today have Facebook pages that make it easy to communicate. Either way, reach out to your neighbors and let them know what happened. They might have helpful video footage to identify the burglar or know more details about the event. Plus, it’s always a good idea to give them a heads-up that dangerous activity is afoot in the neighborhood.

Find Weak Spots In Your Home

Aside from any obvious signs of a break-in, look for other weak spots in your home security. Do you have a spare key hidden in an easily accessible place, like under the doormat? Do your door jambs need to be reinforced? When was the last time you actually locked your windows?

You should also make sure your door locks are up to current safety standards and your garage door (if you have one) is secure.

The police can also help you identify how the burglar entered your home if it’s not easily apparent, especially if you don’t have video footage of the break-in.

Invest In A Security System

One of the most common responses to a home break-in is to invest in a security system that’ll help secure your home. There are endless options for home security these days, so there’s no reason to leave your home vulnerable to an invasion. From traditional formal installation to simple DIY kits you can purchase online, companies are making it easier than ever to safeguard your home.

Smart security also adds convenience because you can be notified via smartphone the instant that trouble arises. Even something as simple as a smart doorbell can help secure your home and ward off bad guys.

Take Things One Day At A Time

When you discover a home break-in, it can be a jarring emotional event. But taking the right steps to report and respond to the crime can help you recover. Remember to care for your well-being as you move forward and secure your home to prevent future events.

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    Hanna Kielar

    Hanna Kielar is an Associate Section Editor for Rocket Companies focused on personal finance, recruiting and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.