Break-ins can take a major physical and emotional toll. But the best way to put your life and home back in order is to act decisively. Here’s a quick list of steps to take after a break-in—scroll below for more details.
What To Do If Someone Breaks into Your House
1. Call the police
As soon as you suspect someone has broken into your home, call the authorities. If you’re home during a break-in, don’t panic. Lock the door to the room you’re in and quietly call 911. State your name, address, and that you suspect someone has broken into your home.
If you’re outside or not at home, you don’t need to go inside your house to make the phone call. Get in your car or go to a neighbor’s house and call the police from there.
Once the police have arrived, file a report so that the burglary goes on record. That extra step increases the chances of the burglar getting caught, and it’s also helpful for filing a claim with your insurance.
2. Document stolen and damaged items
The best way to ensure an accurate police report is to document everything. Write down all of the items that have been stolen or damaged, and go over your list with the police. Take pictures if you can, and go over any footage from your home’s security cameras too. Make a copy of relevant footage, and send it to the police and your insurance company.
What’s the difference between a burglary and a robbery? Technically, they’re both theft. If you’re burgled, that means you weren’t present—like a break-in to your home while you’re on vacation. If you’re robbed, that means you were present and something valuable was taken from you by force, intimidation, or threat.
3. File an insurance claim
Next, file a claim with either your homeowners insurance or your renters insurance so you can be compensated for your losses. Give your insurance provider the same list that you gave to the police of things that were stolen or broken in your home.
Your insurance may send over a claims adjuster who will come to your home and confirm the value of your claim, so don’t make any immediate repairs on your home, and leave everything as is. The adjuster will likely ask you specifics about the break-in and the value of any stolen or damaged goods, so be prepared to defend your claims to the best of your ability.
4. Repair and recover
After everything has been documented and you’ve sent everything over to the police and your insurance company, you can start to put your home—and your life—back together.
Let your neighbors and your landlord know about the incident. Clean up any messes, like broken glass or graffiti. And if there’s major damage to any entryways, replace them and consider installing window bars, a sturdy security door, or a smart lock to make a future break-in more difficult.
This is also a good time to fend off any identity theft attempts. In the weeks after the break-in, monitor your Social Security number with a free credit report, and look at your bank and credit card statements for suspicious activity. Alternatively, you can use an identity theft protection service to monitor your identity for you.
Other than that, take it easy on yourself.
“The emotional toll brought on by a home break-in might linger for days, weeks, or even months—and that’s perfectly OK,” ASecureLife site manager Maru Quevedo reminds folks. “Moving forward from such a traumatic experience isn’t easy. But if you’ve taken all the steps to make your property more secure than ever before, you’ll start to feel safe again in your home.”
Utilize security cameras
Security cameras can be a big help after a break-in. After giving the footage over to the police, review it yourself to see how the criminal entered your home, figure out your home’s weak points, and improve your security setup.
Security cameras can also deter burglars in the first place. Most burglars cite outdoor security cameras as a sign that they should move on to the next house.1 Install one at the main entry door of your home to send a clear message to would-be intruders.
Invest in a home security system
If you don’t already have a home security system installed in your home, consider purchasing one. Not only do they offer peace of mind—whether you live alone or are a family of four keeping watch—but they can alert you when they detect forced entry or a window breaking.
There are two major options for home security systems. You can go for a professionally monitored security system, like ADT, where a professional installs the alarm system and monitors your home from a monitoring center. Alternatively, you can choose a DIY alarm system, like Frontpoint or Ring. If you go the DIY route, you’ll install the system yourself, and you can typically choose between professional or self-monitoring. We recommend professional monitoring because you can’t always respond to alerts on your phone. And if you’ve just had a break-in, having a professional behind your system can be especially reassuring.
Break-ins can take a huge emotional toll. But by taking decisive action after an incident, you can be compensated for stolen belongings and get back to normal sooner rather than later.