How to Cope With the Aftermath of a Burglary
Coming home to find your house broken into—or worse yet, being home when the intrusion occurs—can be a terrifying and trying ordeal. No one expects to be the victim of a burglary.
Though you’re likely facing a whirlwind of emotion, it is important to take the necessary steps to address the crime, contact police, recover possessions and heal psychologically.
You’ll also want to take preventative actions so that you don’t fall victim again.
Scene Preservation and Possession Recovery
The signs of a burglary are often obvious:
- The intruder’s entry point is visible.
- The home is ransacked in a quest for valuables.
If you come home to a burglarized house, it is important that you don't move or touch anything. You should avoid entering the house, if possible. Call the police immediately. If you are inside the house during a burglary, leave as soon as it is safe until the police arrive.
Upon arrival, the police will survey the home, ask you a few questions and look for visible clues left behind by the intruder(s). To help the police catalog missing items, scan your home to see if you can spot specific items that are out of place or absent.
Next, you’ll want to call your insurance carrier, credit card companies and bank to inform them of the burglary. Even if the burglar left behind your credit cards and bank information, they could have easily copied the numbers down. That said, monitor your credit for some time after the burglary. Your bank can advise you further on this matter.
To recover your possessions, make a list of the items stolen and their serial numbers (if you’ve previously recorded this information). This will be valuable to the police department in their search for the culprit and your belongings. Please note, though, that recovering stolen possessions is a task that often does not see full fruition.
Coping With Psychological and Emotional Damage
In addition to stolen items, burglars also steal your piece of mind and sense of security. Billie Corder, Ed.D., a psychiatrist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine comments on the trauma many victims feel: “The majority of victims say they will never have the same feeling of security and inviolability that they had in the past.”
It’s normal to feel violated, fear and anger. After the police have cleared the scene, the best thing to do is clean up. Invite a friend or relative over to help—the emotional toll is easier with someone to comfort you. Though cleaning the mess is an emotionally trying process, the sooner it is completed, the sooner you can begin to heal and move on.
Some struggle with the idea of a stranger going through their belongings while others struggle with the thought that it could happen again. To ease your mind, it is a good idea to change all your locks after a break in. You may also want to consider a home security system to thwart any future intrusion attempts.
Reevaluate Your Home Security
Proper installation and ongoing evaluation of your home security system is key. Don’t try and take things into your own hands. Best home security vendors will assess your property, walk you through potential vulnerabilities and advise on technologies to eliminate the possibility of a repeat scenario. Contact a local security professional to discuss your options.
If you already have a security system in place, reassess it to ensure that all entry points are covered and that none were overlooked in the initial set up. Also, be sure to set your alarm and lock up every time you leave the home or turn in for the night. Make sure you know how to use all of the available functionality of your security system. If you do not, or need a refresher, contact your local security company right away. Proper and consistent use of the system is just as important as installation.
For more information about the steps and procedures to take in the aftermath of a burglary, contact us.
Have you ever been the victim of a break in? Share your experiences below.
Image Source: West Midlands Police via Flickr