4 Steps to Take After Your Home Has Been Burglarized

What would you do if you came home and found your house was broken into and your property stolen? For millions of Americans every year, this nightmare is a reality. In 2010, there were 2,159,878 burglaries in the United States, equivalent to nearly 700 break-ins per 100,000 people, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Most victims in this situation find themselves totally unprepared and at a loss for what to do. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to regain control of the situation, improve the odds of recovering your property, and prevent your home from being broken into again.

Call the Police

Call the police when you spot the first sign of a break-in. The intruder may still be on your property and pose a threat to your safety. Seven percent of all home burglaries involve violence against household members, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

You also need to call the police to get your case on file for insurance and legal purposes. A police report and investigation increases the strength of your insurance claim as well as your odds of retrieving your property. The police also need to record crime scene evidence which can help convict suspects if they are caught. Don’t touch anything before the police arrive so that you don’t accidentally destroy evidence such as fingerprints.

When the police arrive, they will want you to file a report. Take pictures to document what was stolen, and provide the police with a list of everything that was taken and its approximate value. As a preventive measure, it’s wise to take an inventory of valuable items ahead of time in case you are ever robbed.

Call Your Insurance Company

You should also copy your list of stolen items for your insurance provider. To maximize your odds of receiving reimbursement for stolen items, contact your insurance provider within 24 hours. They will need your police report to process your claim, so make sure you have already filed a police report before calling. Your insurance provider will probably send an adjuster to review the crime scene, so in order to avoid disrupting the evidence, you may wish to stay somewhere else until they arrive, if possible.

Review Your Security Camera Footage

If you have security cameras installed on your property, you should review them to see if there is any additional evidence. If you’re fortunate, you may have captured footage of the burglar breaking in, walking through rooms, or rummaging through items. You may also notice more clues, as well as additional information about which items were stolen. Provide copies of any relevant footage to the police and to your insurance provider.

Evaluate Your Home Security

After the police and your insurance adjuster have finished reviewing the crime scene, you can begin cleaning up. You should also conduct a review of your home’s security with an eye towards preventing future burglaries. Once burglars have successfully broken into a home, they often return in the future, so it’s important to make sure you secure any vulnerabilities that enabled the initial break-in. The National Crime Prevention Council provides a home security checklist you can use to review your home security and identify any vulnerabilities that need to be fixed.

Having your home broken into is a traumatic and disturbing experience, but taking these steps can help you recover and restore your life to order as quickly as possible. Filing a report with the police, calling your insurance company, and reviewing your security footage will maximize your chances of getting your property returned and bringing those responsible to justice. Reviewing your home security can help prevent future burglaries and restore your peace of mind.

 

Posted by Roy Rasmussen on RISMedia

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10 Ways To Protect Your Home While On Vacation

Heading out of town for the summer? Don’t make it easy for burglars to find out.

Keep your home from being a target with these easy tips.

The season of long weekends and beach getaways is upon us, and the last thing any homeowner wants to imagine when they’re soaking in the sun or taking a dip at the lake is a burglar snooping around their empty home. While there is no use in being paranoid about your belongings while you’re away, home security shouldn’t be taken lightly. And it’s the right season to be wary: The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that household burglary rates are highest in the summer.

So whether you’re getting away for the day or weekend or taking an extended vacation, put these 10 summer holiday safety tips to work and make your home less of a target for robbers this season — or any season.1. Beef up security systems

  1. Sure, you’ve set the alarm and have motion-activated lights outside, but there are some additional things you should consider doing to protect your home. For instance, install a heavy-duty lock strike plate on your door; it’s the weakest part and where thieves may try to break in. You can also add sash pins to double-hung windows to make them more secure.

    2. Make your home look lived in

    One big clue to burglars that you’ve gone away during the summer? An unkempt lawn. Be sure to mow it before you leave — or hire someone to keep it trimmed while you’re gone — so your home looks well cared for. The same precaution can be transferred to winter months — if you’re expecting a big snow, have someone on retainer to shovel your walk and driveway.

    3. Don’t keep your windows open

    String lights can be a great way to illuminate a deck or outdoor space during summer months, but don’t run electrical extension cords through your windows. If your windows don’t close and latch, you’re sending burglars an invitation to invade.

    4. Don’t fall for door-to-door solicitations

    A common way to scope out what kind of goodies you have in your home is by posing as a charity asking for donations. If someone comes to your door, don’t open it, or ask for an ID that links them to the charity — and don’t let them see inside.

    5. Use the latest tech

    Take advantage of a devices like FakeTV, which mimics the flickering light of a TV to make it look as though you are home. Other home automation devices, like Wi-Fi-enabled security systems or plug-in devices that allow you to turn lights on and off remotely with your cellphone, can also help ward off thieves.

    6. Keep your valuables out of sight

    That shiny new laptop, your favorite jewelry, or basically anything valuable you’ve forgotten to stash out of sight could tempt burglars. Before you head out of town, do a quick walk-through in each room and hide all valuables.

    7. Make a record of valuables

    It’s a good idea to take pictures of your stuff — particularly big-ticket items such as laptops and TVs — and keep serial numbers in a safe place. Should the worst happen, you’ll have a record of what was taken and be able to confirm your things are truly yours if they are recovered by police.

    8. Do your packing out of sight

    Sure, you have to make room for the bikes, load up the boogie boards, and stash away some snacks, but be smart about where you pack up the car. If possible, keep your car in the garage or out of sight, advises Heather Dodson, a real estate agent at Team Leung in Greensboro, NC.

    9. Be smart about boxes

    If you’ve bought new gear to bring along on your summer vacation, don’t leave the empty boxes on the curb for everyone to see. Instead, break down the cardboard and put it in your container for recycling or trash pickup.

    10. Don’t publicize your vacation plans

    It’s hard to fight the allure of Facebook and Instagram. But it’s probably not the best idea to share your travel plans online with your 500 closest friends. Your Facebook profile might not be as private as you think — and it’s better not to take the risk.

    Posted by Ginny Gaylor on Trulia

Status Update: Posting Details About Moving Poses Social Media Risks

Most people are eager to tell everyone they know about their upcoming move, and announcing it through social media is usually the quickest and easiest way to do it.

Sharing such important news via social networking may also get your friends interested in helping you with moving and getting settled in your new home.

But that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind and allow the entire world to view all your moving details.

Find a middle ground by using privacy settings before posting  times and exact addresses, or simply keep that information out of anything you post.

Once you notify contacts about your move, or even your interest in exploring the possibility, people will likely come forward with helpful information, often before you ask for it. They might volunteer recommendations of movers or storage providers and, depending on how close you are to the person making a recommendation, the information could be more relevant or credible than reviews from third parties you don’t know personally.

Whether you ask your social network contacts for advice or not, just using these networks’ search tools can uncover vital information that may help you decide if you really want to move. You can find neighborhood demographics and crime reports, along with what people there do for fun.

The farther away you are moving from your current location, the more you might want to solicit advice from your contacts about your future locale. See if your friends can introduce you to others who are more familiar with the area and could help you get settled into your new home.

Once your move is underway, it’s wise to limit the details of your move updates to your closest friends and family. Security experts warn against publicly posting when you are not home, which can tip off would-be burglars of a possible break-in opportunity. That logic extends to the dates and times you will be loading and unloading your moving van. Typing in the keywords “visibility” or “privacy” on most social networks will generate links to information on how to adjust these settings.

If you are relocating to another city for work, it might make sense to publicly share the name of the city you will be moving to. Professionally-focused social media networks such as LinkedIn are ideal for this kind of update. But refrain from sharing the exact address of your new home, and when you expect to be moving in.

Whatever the reason for your move, once you’ve completely unloaded the moving van at your new location and started to unpack, the security risks diminish. As you get settled in, go ahead and update your city on your Facebook profile. It might result in different advertisements being served to you, since local businesses have the option of targeting ads by ZIP code.

Now that you are all moved in, enjoy your new location. You’re starting a new adventure with lots to share with your friends, connections, contacts and followers.

By Jackie Cohen of Realtor.com. To view the original article, click here.