A home break-in can leave a homeowner with feelings of violation, fear, anger and loss. The emotional stress and trauma may take a long time to heal but you have no time to be emotional if you are faced with the aftermath of a burglary. Understanding what to do after discovering a home break-in can keep you safe and help the authorities in dealing with the burglar and the chances of recovering the stolen items.
1. Don’t Enter the House; Dial 911
If a homeowner returns home to find that their home has been burglarized, immediately exit the home and dial 911. Wait outside the home, preferably in a safe place such as a locked car or at a neighbors home where you can see if the police arrive. You should avoid a deadly confrontation with the burglar in case he or she is still inside your home.
2. Dont Search the Home or Touch Anything
Your house is now a crime scene. Dont touch anything inside until the police say so. Touching anything could erase evidences left by the burglars.
3. Make a List of All the Stolen Items Including Damages to Your Property
After the police give you the go signal, it’s time to walk through your house and make a list of the stolen items with detailed descriptions and their monetary values. Search for photographs or proofs of identification such as serial numbers of the lost items. Provide your police department with a copy of your list. You may also need the list for your insurance claim.
4.Inform the Police of Your Crime Suspects
Try to recall any recent events or visitors in your home as well as suspicious activities in your neighborhood.
5. Review How the Burglary Happened and How to Prevent Its Recurrence
Investigate how the burglar was able to enter your home and strengthen your home security accordingly. If you don’t have a monitored home security system, it’s time to get one. Were your door and windows strong enough?
It usually takes about 8-12 minutes for a burglar to get in and out of your home according to crime statistics. Four minutes are allocated for the entry and exit while 8 minutes are for searching and gathering items inside the house. To accomplish the tasks on time, there is a search pattern followed, at 2 minutes each, assuming that there is no alarm signal.
1. The master bedroom is the first stop expected that it is where cash, jewelry, or other valuable items are kept. The burglar will search your dresser, under your bed, the bedside table or closets. The safe practice would be to put your cash and valuables in a bolted safe because 2 minutes would not be enough to break your safe.
2. The next stop is the bathroom, particularly your medicine cabinets to look for any narcotic prescriptions.
3. Then, it’s the living room, family room or kitchen. So, keep your electronic gadgets and computers in a locked drawer or cabinet after using. Picking on the locks without knowing what’s inside would be wasting valuable time.
4. Six of the eight minutes has been used up. If the burglar has gathered what he or she thinks are enough items, it’s time to call a partner to help him or her carry the loot. The partner usually provides the getaway vehicle.
Homeowners should realize that burglaries are crimes of opportunity. Make it appear that it’s more difficult for them to gain access to your home within their planned time frame. Don’t tempt burglars with opportunities of selling your valuables by keeping them out of sight of strangers who may enter your house. Burglars are wary of surveillance cameras and the access time is definitely much shorter if the security alarm has been triggered.
How do burglars successfully accomplish their break in? Based on police advisories and interviews with anonymous burglars, one of the most important considerations for a burglar is the effortlessness in getting in and out of the house. A burglar plans to spend only between eight to twelve minutes to accomplish the crime.
Choosing the next target
The next target is usually chosen by scoping the whole neighborhood disguised as a repairman or installer on the way to work, a flyer poster or any other kind of service providers that can serve as cover why a stranger is walking in your neighborhood. Burglars are attracted to houses with:
1. High fences and trees or shrubbery near the windows which can provide the needed cover from neighbors, passersby or police patrols while they are trying to open your door or windows.
2. Open curtains or blinds on windows or glass doors that offer a good view of what’s your house.
3. Playground structures or toys in your yard because they are signs that a young mother lives in the house. A burglar equates the presence of a young mother to jewelry and electronic gadgets.
The burglar will try to post a flyer on your door to get a closer look and to check if you have a burglar alarm or a surveillance camera. He or she may also knock on the door to see if the house is occupied. Most burglars will skip houses which are occupied or which has a security system.
Some burglars will risk a break in even if the house has a security system if the door is not locked, they found a spare key, or if it looks like the door can be opened with just a kick.
Failing to find a spare key, the burglar may smash any glass door or window. If they can’t enter your house in one to two minutes, they will most likely leave to find another target.
Since time is an important factor, the longer it will take them to enter your home, the less likely they are to make you their next target. A home security system with alarm monitoring will also prevent a burglar from staying long to gather enough valuables because the police will be arriving soon. It’s most likely they’ll prefer a less risky target.