What to Do After a Break-in
Your home is your sanctuary, so dealing with a break-in can leave you feeling violated. Before you charge into your home to serve up your own justice, take a few deep breaths and err on the side of caution.
Making the wrong move could make an already cruddy situation worse. Find out what to do after a break-in to get back to your normal life.
As soon as you realize your home has been burglarized, get out and call 911. If you notice the intrusion when you arrive home, don't go inside. You don't know if the person is still in there or how they'll react when confronted.
Avoid touching anything if you're inside your home. This could destroy evidence that could lead to an arrest. Waiting at a neighbor's house or in your car is a safe option until the police arrive and clear your home.
If you have roommates or family members living with you, contact them to see if they're home. Tell them to get out as well. If they're not at home, tell them to stay away until you notify them that it's safe.
Once the police determine your home is safe, you can go through the list of missing items with them. They might collect evidence, interview neighbors or review any security camera footage you might have. Work with the police to document everything possible. Taking photos of the damage and determining missing items before things get moved can also be beneficial.
The aftermath of a home break-in can be time-consuming and ongoing. You'll have to deal with your insurance company and possibly the legal system. These steps can help you determine what to do after a home break-in.
Your insurance company should be one of your first calls once you handle the immediate issues. Calling them right away gets things moving with your claim, and it can help you determine what additional steps you might need to take. Plus, you're usually expected to file a claim in a timely manner, so you don't want to wait too long. It's typically best to wait until you have a police report in hand and an inventory of everything that's missing.
Burglars can leave broken glass, smashed locks and damaged personal items behind that you need to clean up. Looking at the mess reminds you of the violation of your property, so cleaning it up quickly can make you feel a little better in your home. Ask a neighbor or friend to help if you're feeling overwhelmed.
Keeping your home secure is also important in the aftermath. If the burglar broke a window or picked a lock, your home is at risk for another break-in. Have those areas fixed right away to secure your home and prevent another home intrusion.
This could also be a good time to upgrade your home security. Research locks to ensure you get one that's as secure as possible. Adding a home security system and surveillance cameras can also make your home less of a target for burglars. Other things that can help include trimming landscaping that blocks windows, planting thorny bushes under windows, installing security bars on windows and adding outdoor lighting.
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The burglar may have taken credit cards, financial statements, Social Security cards or laptops with account passwords saved on them that give them access to financial accounts. Notify your bank, credit card companies, lenders and other financial institutions about the break-in. They can cancel your old cards and watch closely for suspicious activity on your account. You can also freeze your credit, which means the credit bureau won't share your credit information with third parties. This could prevent the burglar from using info they found during the break-in to obtain a new credit card or other accounts.
Keep in touch with the police department and investigators assigned to your case. Stay updated on the case so you'll know if they find or arrest a suspect. You might need to testify against the person or participate in legal proceedings.
Finding support from friends and family can help you get through the emotional aftermath of a break-in. If you're feeling extremely overwhelmed, working with a therapist could help. They can help you work through the trauma and teach you strategies to cope with it.
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