According to research by the FBI, over 1 million burglaries occur a year in the US. A break-in takes place every 26 seconds. That adds up to over 2 million break-ins a year, with more than half taking place in residential homes.
We've all had nightmares about someone breaking into our houses. It's unnerving to think about. Knowing what to do in the event of a break-in will increase your confidence and soothe your anxieties about protecting your property.
What To Do After a Break-In: The Immediate Steps
You've just walked into your home and noticed that things aren't where they should be. Panic sets in as you realize you've likely been the victim of a burglary.
Here's what to do upon the discovery of a break-in:
- How To Tell 911 About a Home Break-In
At the first sign of a burglary, your top priority is always your safety. If you're in your home when the burglar enters, don't immediately reach for the baseball bat and go face to face with the intruder - you don't know what weapons they may have.
Instead, try to find a safe escape route out of your home. Use a cell phone or a neighbor's phone to call 911 and inform them of your name, location, and the nature of the crime.
If the burglar is still in your home and you can't escape safely, find a place to hide and lock your door. Listen to the movements of the burglar. When they are far enough away that you can call the authorities, quietly call 911. Make sure to give them your location inside the house in addition to the information listed above. If you have any information on the intruder's appearance, car, or any other identifying information, inform the dispatcher of that.
- How To Keep Track of Evidence After a Break-In
Before you assess the damage, wait for the police to arrive. They will investigate your home to ensure there is no immediate danger before you enter. Once they secure the scene and permit you to enter, it's time to start looking for evidence.
Start by calmly checking each room in the house. Open drawers, check closets, and look in every corner for anything that seems out of place.
Take pictures of any damaged items or places where missing items used to be, as they can serve as evidence if you make an insurance claim. It's also helpful to keep track of everything stolen or damaged by making a list with the name of each item and its location.
If you have a home security system, pull up the footage to see if you can gather any additional evidence from it. Search for anything that might help identify the criminal, such as distinct tattoos.
- How To File a Police Report
Once you've gathered all the evidence you can, you'll want to file a police report. The officers present at the initial response might be able to help get you started. If not, you can make the report in person at your police station, over the phone, or sometimes even online.
Be prepared to fill out basic information like the date and time of the break-in, and present the evidence gathered in the report. If you don't hear any updates within a few days, follow up with a phone call to the station's non-emergency phone number.
- Does Insurance Help After a Break-In?
If you have homeowner insurance, you can make a claim and possibly receive compensation for the damages. Each insurance company's policy is different, but most will cover the cost of broken doors, locks, and windows, as well as the cost of damaged or stolen goods. Most policies do have limits on the amount of money you can restore from stolen and damaged property.
When filing an insurance claim, evidence is key. Present all the evidence you have to prove which belongings were stolen or damaged. If you have identifying information on the stolen item, such as a serial number, receipt, or bank statement with the purchase, include that.
Even if you've never experienced a break-in, it's a good idea to regularly keep a list or spreadsheet of that type of information in case of emergency. This measure can make dealing with the aftermath of a break-in easier.
Dealing With Stress After a Break-In
Aside from the physical damages, a break-in can be traumatic.
Here's how to protect your mental health during this challenging time:
What To Tell Your Kids After a Break-In
If you have kids, they're likely very shaken by the break-in and may struggle with feelings of being unsafe after the event. Let them know that this is normal, and tell them if anything of theirs was taken or damaged.
Answer any questions they may have, and do your best to address any lingering concerns. Reassure them that police officers are working to catch the intruder and that your family will be able to replace certain items.
It's a wise idea to have a family plan in the event of a break-in or other life-threatening event. Take this time to review your emergency plans with your children. Inform them of any resources they can rely on to keep them safe, such as a home security system.
If they still seem significantly rattled after the break-in and haven't returned to their normal self after a week or two, consider taking them to see a counselor.
Getting Your Confidence Back After a Break-In
Don't be afraid to allow yourself time to heal after this traumatic event. You may want to take some time off work to recover with your family members and figure out the next steps in preventing future burglaries.
Remember that what happened was not your fault and that you deserve to feel safe in your own home. Consider seeing a counselor yourself if you're experiencing lingering anxiety after the break-in.
How To Minimize Worries After a Break-In
If you're concerned about the possibility of a future break-in, take this time to invest in or upgrade a home security system. Security cameras, video doorbells, and an alarm system can help you feel protected and ease your worries about future incidents.
How To Protect Your Home From Burglaries
Aside from security systems, here are some other actions you can take to prevent your home:
Put the Most Important Items in an At-Home Safe
Protect your most valuable items from intruders with a home safe. Even if a burglar does make it into your home, a safe ensures that they won't have access to your most precious possessions and important documents, from family heirlooms to your Social Security card.
There are several options for choosing a safe, so start by determining what you need from your safe. For example, if you want to keep an eye on your safe when you're away, a smartphone-controlled safe like our iCube safe is a good option. With an in-app catalog feature and 8 pre-drilled bolt holes for easy installation, the iCube will also send you a smartphone notification if your safe is ever tampered with.
Alternately, if you want a safe hidden from plain view, our Biocube In-Drawer safe fits right into a pull-out drawer for an extra layer of concealment. If a burglar opened the drawer, the Biocube would be exceedingly difficult to remove with its ⅛ inch-thick walls and tamper-proof doors. Before depositing your valuables, take a minute to secure the Biocube to the drawer through the 4 pre-drilled bolt holes.
Lock Your Doors and Windows
One of the easiest ways to protect your home from a break-in is by locking your doors and windows. It's a lot easier to break into an unlocked home than a locked one, and the burglar might choose to move on to another home if they can't enter yours quickly.
While it's important to lock all your doors and windows, keep an extra close eye on entrances on the first floor. Install peepholes in your front and back doors along with a deadbolt for an extra layer of protection.
Build a Community in Your Neighborhood
You won't be at home all the time, but your neighbors might be. Keep an open line of communication with your neighbors regarding safety concerns. If you see something suspicious, say something. Your neighbors will appreciate your concern and will likely do the same for you.
Home Burglary: Aftermath
The thought of a home invasion is frightening. With the right security devices (like a safe), you can take steps to protect your own home, property, and loved ones.
How To Make Break-In and Theft Claims on Home Insurance | Forbes
Easing Your Children's Fears After a Break-In | Child Development Institute