What should you do if you come home to find it's been ransacked? Don't panic; be organized and strategic.
There are three main actions you should take, in the following order:
- Report and check
- Clean up
- Plan ahead
Your goal here is safety first and then catching the bad guys. The following tips will point you in these directions.
- If you're sure your house was robbed before you make entry, do not enter until the police come.
- Call the police, then check to make sure all occupants are unharmed, starting with the most vulnerable, if the crime took place while you all were present.
- If you come home to what appears to be a burglary/invasion, immediately call the police once you know you've been robbed.
- Leave the home and seek a safe place like a neighbors or your running car.
- Don't linger outside; the burglar/s could still be inside.
- Don't assume that the intruders will get away with it because there's no sign of them. Your stolen property may still be recovered.
- Do not touch anything until the police arrive.
- If you're sure the burglar/s are gone and nobody is hurt, do an inventory of stolen belongings. Create two lists: one for the police and one for your insurance company.
- Don't wait longer than 24 hours to file a police report; prompt reporting is necessary for an insurance claim.
Burglary and home invasions can have long lasting emotional and traumatic affects on a person. Your goal here is a fresh start so the impact of the robbery doesn't take over your being. If your home or apartment develops a "black cloud", then moving may be your only consolation.
- After the police are finished, clean up. Promptly remove furnishings or appliances that are no longer functional, as these will otherwise serve as reminders of the violation.
- Alter the rooms where the robbery occurred so that they're not as much of a conditioned stimulus for fear or anger: repaint the walls, rearrange the furniture, get new curtains.
Being proactive is the most effective way to avoid being chosen as a victim or to reduce the impact of a burglary.
- Before being robbed, take photos of valuables; list their model and serial numbers.
- Ask yourself what you can do to deter another invasion.
- Assess your house and pretend you're a burglar. Where are the weak points? Are there areas you'd be able to easily enter?
- If you don't have a home alarm system, get one. If you already do, find out why it didn't stop the invasion. Consider upgrading it.
- Change all locks.
- Get shatter-proof window screens.
- Enroll the entire family (save for preschoolers) in a self-defense program. Don't assume a gun is your only or best defense.
- Discuss with law enforcement, locksmiths, your insurance company and security professionals ways to improve your plan.
- Live happily ever after.