What To Do in the Crucial Three Hours after a Burglary

by September 5, 2013 09/5/13
Home Invasion Forced Entry

The first three hours after you’ve discovered that you were burglarized are very crucial. During these first hours, you have to pick yourself up, assess the situation and take care of your family. Here’s what you can do to recover from the incident and a few things you can do prior to stay ahead of the game if this ever happens to you.

Hour One: Check and Report

Immediately after the incident, or after you’ve discovered that you were a victim of burglary, call the police and immediately check if everyone in your family is okay and not physically hurt. Tend to the youngest members first, as they are very susceptible to nervous breakdowns and trauma. If anyone is hurt or too shaken, quickly get them the medical attention they need.

If you weren’t at home when the crime took place, call 911 immediately after you’re sure that you’ve been robbed. Some cases aren’t reported, as people think that there’s no point in contacting the authorities. There’s still a chance that your things can still be recovered, so don’t lose hope. Try not to enter your home or touch anything before the police arrive. Stay with neighbors or inside your car and lock the doors. Burglars may still be inside your house.

If everyone is well, not physically hurt and the area is clear, check which of your belongings were stolen or damaged. Create two separate lists for these items as the police and your insurance company will need these. Before an event like as this happens, it’s a good idea to take photos of your valuable items and keep a record of model and serial numbers. This can be beneficial when providing the report to police and your insurance agent. Be sure to file a police report within 24-hours of the crime, as you’ll need this in the event you plan to file an insurance claim.

The hardest thing to get over after a burglary is the emotional damage. Many victims feel violated and unsafe after their sanctum sanctorum is invaded.

People who’ve been burglarized used to believe that their home was the last safe place, but that security has been breached and they feel violated,” Psychologist Mory Framer told the Los Angeles Times. Framer is a psychologist at Barrington Psychiatric Center in Los Angeles, which has a division that treats individuals who’ve gone through trauma related with incidents like robberies or explosions.

Hour Two: Clean-up

Start healing emotionally by cleaning up right after the police investigation. It will be difficult, but it’s a necessary step for you to move on, especially if your home is ransacked. You’ll feel violated along with a nagging sense of being alarmed. Cover any damaged part of the house and remove any unusable furniture or appliances.

These things will be a reminder of the incident for the next few weeks, so getting them out of sight will help a lot. Consider rearranging furniture or repainting the room where the burglary took place. The simple act of changing the look of your place helps a lot in moving on and will signify that you are starting anew.

Hour Three: Plan Ahead

As a part of getting over the incident, prepare for the future. Check that your alarm system is working properly and do an assessment of your house. The key is to think like a burglar yourself. Look for weak points or areas where you can enter easily without anyone knowing. Focus on strengthening the security of these areas. Change the locks in your home, get shatter-proof screens or even upgrade your home security system. Others find it very helpful to take self-defense classes. It not only prepares you personally, but will help you heal emotionally. Being proactive about the future is a big step in moving on.

Editor-in-Chief’s note: We’ve put together a great resource article I’d recommend reading if you haven’t yet on Tips to Protect You and Your Family Against Home Invasions, many of the principles of assessing and strengthening home security are addressed in the article.

Also, call your insurance company and discuss improvements in your plan. Ask your agent how you can be better prepared in the future. If you were put in a bad financial state because of the incident, consider an emergency loan. Banks also offer plans and programs for these types of situations.

It’s okay to feel upset about what happened. Acceptance is the key and moving on is the next step. Family and friends will help you a lot in times of need, find time to distract yourself by holding small parties at your house with the people you love. Reconnecting with people around you will help you get back on your feet. If you find that the incident has affected your daily life, consider checking up with experts who can help you out. They can suggest activities or, in extreme cases, medication that can alleviate anxiety.

What are some tips you would offer to a friend in the wake of a home invasion or a burglary?

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Please join us in welcoming John Anderson as a contributor on ITS Tactical. John has been a writer since 2008 and works almost exclusively on home security, technology, green and simple living and business.


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BlackLion
BlackLion

Verify all of your windows are secure, especially windows with air conditioning units and windows that lead to fire escapes.

Avoid using traditional jewelery boxes. Consider re-purposing a common household-product container as a jewelery box, like an empty container of baby wipes. The container can be stored in a private bathroom (not utilized by guests) where it won't easily draw the focus of a burglar. Many women often don earrings and other articles of jewelery in front of a bathroom mirror anyway.

Maintain a list of serial numbers for electronics and any other applicable items. Keep a photograph of any unique article of jewelery, especially any articles with inscriptions. These documents can/should be presented to the police when filing a report.

If you are the victim of burglary, resist the urge to enter your home and investigate what property was taken. Do NOT touch anything until permitted to do so by the police. Although burglars often wear gloves, it is very important to preserve any fingerprints that may be present until they can processed by a police forensic unit. If any article belonging to the burglar was left behind, inform the police of this item.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" -Ben Franklin

BergmanOswell
BergmanOswell

Opie556: Perhaps use one of the hollow coins from elsewhere on the ITS Tactical site to hide the memory card in your couch cushions?  If you live alone, you know nobody's going to haul it out and spend it, and burglars have better things to do than to ransack a couch for pocket change.

Opie556
Opie556

To piggyback off of what Cliff said, another simple step would be to dedicate a digital camera card to photographing the items in your home along with close-ups of every serial number. Usually along with the serial number is a model number as well. Then store the card in an innocuous place in your home or at your workplace. Should you ever need the serial numbers they are accessible and you are able to give a complete record to police. Oftentimes the serial number or owner applied number is the only thing that helps get your things back. Also, in the absence of any forensic evidence or serial numbers your burglary case would likely be closed out before ever getting assigned to someone. 



Opie556
Opie556

To piggyback off of what Cliff said, another simple step would be to dedicate a digital camera card to photographing the items in your home along with close-ups of every serial number. Usually along with the serial number is a model number as well. Then store the card in an innocuous place in your home or at your workplace. Should you ever need the serial numbers they are accessible and you are able to give a complete record to police. Oftentimes the serial number or owner applied number is the only thing that helps get your things back. Also, in the absence of any forensic evidence or serial numbers your burglary case would likely be closed out before ever getting assigned to someone.

kevharde
kevharde

I can tell you that I've been considering several ideas lately. I still think that I live in a good neighborhood but well...there you go!

Kris_Q
Kris_Q

Rugrash kevharde Alarms can act as a deterrent, but they cannot prevent a burglary.  They provide a couple of important functions though.  If you arm your alarm, you know that all your doors are at least closed.  More importantly though, they make noise and immediately notify someone of a problem at your house.  That limits the amount of time that a criminal will stay at your house.  Usually to a couple of minutes rather than allowing them to search your house for a couple of hours.  That lessens the amount of property loss and reduces the likelihood that you will return home and still have a burglar in your home. Lastly, alarms provide some peace of mind.  Imagine coming home and finding your front door open.  Questions start racing through your mind like, "Did I close the door when I left?" "How long has that door been open?" "Is there someone still inside my house?"  When you use an alarm, you know the door was closed when you left, you know exactly when that door was opened and you can have appropriately trained people search for criminals before you enter your home.

Kris_Q
Kris_Q

@CliffYou might also consider sandwiching the numbers between the letter designations to prevent alteration of the numbers, eg. TX123456789DL.

JohnAnderson090
JohnAnderson090

Rugrash kevharde Thanks for sharing that. We've learned our lessons. Aside from protecting our properties, we're also accountable protecting our families and ourselves.

JohnAnderson090
JohnAnderson090

@CliffThanks for this great tip Cliff! It's always better to be prepared before any burglary cases.

bryanpblack
bryanpblack

@Funk462 Great tip and I couldn't agree more!

bryanpblack
bryanpblack

kevharde Thanks for sharing your experience, I'm glad that no one was hurt.

bryanpblack
bryanpblack

@Cliff Thanks for adding your suggestions and knowledge Cliff!

Cliff
Cliff

As a police officer, I can recommend a simple tip to up the chances of recovering any stolen property: Etch your driver's license into your valuable items when it is practical. Your DL number is not going to be a readily identifiable piece of personal information to a crook and there is much less risk using your DL number as opposed to something like your social. Furthermore, using your DL number makes it very easy for LE to look you up if the property is recovered. Often, when we break burglarly cases, we are stuck with huge piles of property all mixed together from many different cases. Much of this property goes unclaimed because there is no way for us to identify the owner. A good format here in Texas to make the number more recognizable as a DL number to LE looks like this "TDL 12345678", where TDL is a common LE abbreviation for Texas Driver's License.

Rugrash
Rugrash

 @kevharde Same thing here in Houston about a year ago.  We had an alarm (ADT) that went off immediately, but that didn't stop the quick smash and grab.  I then had about $4,000 worth of Rollac Shutters installed a month later.  That month without them was really tough to get through as I was sure they would return.

Rugrash
Rugrash

kevharde Same thing here in Houston about a year ago.  We had an alarm (ADT) that went off immediately, but that didn't stop the quick smash and grab.  I then had about $4,000 worth of Rollac Shutters installed a month later.  That month without them was really tough to get through as I was sure they would return.

kevharde
kevharde

Been there, done that...three weeks ago. Quick smash and grab but really freaked me out when I came home and found the front door open! Called the police and insurance company right away and then started looking around for what was not obvious. The notion Funk462  brings forth has been going thru my head ever since. Well the alarm is now installed (stoopid to take so long...it''ll never happen to us!) and other precautions have been taken. Thankfully live and learn! 15yrs here and never an issue....complacency is not a plan! 

kevharde
kevharde

Been there, done that...three weeks ago. Quick smash and grab but really freaked me out when I came home and found the front door open! Called the police and insurance company right away and then started looking around for what was not obvious. The notion Funk462  brings forth has been going thru my head ever since. Well the alarm is now installed (stoopid to take so long...it''ll never happen to us!) and other precautions have been taken. Thankfully live and learn! 15yrs here and never an issue....complacency is not a plan!

Funk462
Funk462

It's also a good idea to remain vigilant after a burglary because many robbers may target your house a second time since they know you will be replacing valuable items.  Like the t.v. or laptop the first time, well wait a month and they will most likely have a second one of equal or greater value that you can take once again.  If it doesn't look like you've done anything to secure your residence since then it is a tempting sight for would be criminals.  

Funk462
Funk462

It's also a good idea to remain vigilant after a burglary because many robbers may target your house a second time since they know you will be replacing valuable items.  Like the t.v. or laptop the first time, well wait a month and they will most likely have a second one of equal or greater value that you can take once again.  If it doesn't look like you've done anything to secure your residence since then it is a tempting sight for would be criminals.

m18perez
m18perez

ITStactical hide the bodies!!!

Cacoombah
Cacoombah

ITStactical Roger! Charlie Mike!

ITStactical
ITStactical

Cacoombah No worries. You sounds prepared. Hopefully others are too. Stay vigilant! ^MP

Cacoombah
Cacoombah

ITStactical solid logic. Sorry, was just being facetious.

ITStactical
ITStactical

Cacoombah What if you aren't home when it happens? ^MP

BergmanOswell
BergmanOswell

@Opie556: Perhaps use one of the hollow coins from elsewhere on the ITS Tactical site to hide the memory card in your couch cushions?  If you live alone, you know nobody's going to haul it out and spend it, and burglars have better things to do than to ransack a couch for pocket change.

JohnAnderson090
JohnAnderson090

@kevharde It's good to have that positive thought. Although, we can't really say when the danger will happen. So how'd you cope up?

Kris_Q
Kris_Q

@CliffYou might also consider sandwiching the numbers between the letter designations to prevent alteration of the numbers, eg. TX123456789DL.

JohnAnderson090
JohnAnderson090

@CliffThanks for this great tip Cliff! It's always better to be prepared before any burglary cases.

bryanpblack
bryanpblack moderator

@Cliff Thanks for adding your suggestions and knowledge Cliff!

kevharde
kevharde

I can tell you that I've been considering several ideas lately. I still think that I live in a good neighborhood but well...there you go!

Kris_Q
Kris_Q

@Rugrash @kevharde Alarms can act as a deterrent, but they cannot prevent a burglary.  They provide a couple of important functions though.  If you arm your alarm, you know that all your doors are at least closed.  More importantly though, they make noise and immediately notify someone of a problem at your house.  That limits the amount of time that a criminal will stay at your house.  Usually to a couple of minutes rather than allowing them to search your house for a couple of hours.  That lessens the amount of property loss and reduces the likelihood that you will return home and still have a burglar in your home.

Lastly, alarms provide some peace of mind.  Imagine coming home and finding your front door open.  Questions start racing through your mind like, "Did I close the door when I left?" "How long has that door been open?" "Is there someone still inside my house?"  When you use an alarm, you know the door was closed when you left, you know exactly when that door was opened and you can have appropriately trained people search for criminals before you enter your home.

JohnAnderson090
JohnAnderson090

@Rugrash @kevharde Thanks for sharing that. We've learned our lessons. Aside from protecting our properties, we're also accountable protecting our families and ourselves.

bryanpblack
bryanpblack moderator

@kevharde Thanks for sharing your experience, I'm glad that no one was hurt.

bryanpblack
bryanpblack moderator

@Funk462 Great tip and I couldn't agree more!

kevharde
kevharde

@JohnAnderson090  got pissed as hell then cleaned up the mess. Redoubled efforts to clean up areas of concern around the house and of course, installed the alarm system. I have other ideas but will take time and money.

Rugrash
Rugrash

@Kris_Q @Rugrash @kevharde That's why I have the ADT system and the cellular backup module in case the phone lines are cut.  Having my alarm go off immediately limited the amount of time that scumbag a-hole was in my home.  Having it at night helps me sleep better as well.  I even installed one of those garage door sensors that tells me, via a small receiver, whether or not its up (red LED) or down (green LED).  My original siren was located in my attic above my third floor and if it went off you really couldn't hear it on the first floor.  So I had a separate siren installed on the third floor and it's reeeeallly loud.  Other strategy we implemented was to get a cheap jewelry box with some costume crap from a flea market to act as a decoy.  My wife keeps her stuff elsewhere now.

ITStactical
ITStactical

@Cacoombah No worries. You sounds prepared. Hopefully others are too. Stay vigilant! ^MP

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