Best practices after a burglary – Police reports, insurance, safety, etc.
Per the excellent advice of Gideon Parker in another thread, I’m starting a forum topic about what to do AFTER a burglary. (There are already plenty of threads about how to prevent one; this thread is about what to do if it happens anyway. There are already plenty of threads about identity theft etc. too, which is also a concern after a burglary if they stole any of your files, so I won’t repeat that content here). Here’s some advice from personal experience:
- Take a deep breath. Take another one. And another. Pause. Realize that it is just stuff. Recognize and appreciate the fact that you are, actually, fine. This is just another experience in a long line of experiences.
- Touch nothing. The moment you recognize a burglary has taken place, get out of the house and call the police. Resist the urge to go all over the house and find out what is missing, etc., until after the police have dusted for prints, taken photos, and finished their report – not to mention ensured that the burglars are gone.
- Call the police first, and then immediately call your insurance company. They will likely have a service that can come right away to do any immediate repairs necessary to secure the property (in our case boarding up the door and window that had been smashed in)
- Take lots of photos and videos. Be aware that the police may have caused just as much damage as the burglars and that, too, is covered by insurance. If their fingerprint powder ruined your carpet, carpet shampooing and/or replacement is likely covered by your insurance.
- Ask the police for advice on removing the fingerprint powder from your furniture, carpet, and walls. Recognize that their advice will likely be useless and that fingerprint powder is never coming out. This is the part of the crime scene aftermath that none of those TV shows warn you about.
- Be prepared for STUPID comments from friends. A good friend, upon being told that you experienced a burglary, will say, “I’m so sorry that happened to you. How can I help?” A person who should likely be ejected from your social circle will say, “Did you have a light on? Was your alarm activated? Did you have deadbolts?” or other victim-blaming statements. Practice this response, “Why do you ask?” and then pause and stare at them. Kind humans will recognize their error and perhaps recognize that the victim-blaming is a pathetic attempt to feel a sense of control over the uncontrollable. The burglary is solely the fault of the burglar.
- Practice compassion for the burglars. Really. Whoever burglarized you probably has a far worse life than you do (and in my case, an even worse life when he realized that the stuff he or she stole was actually worthless). As that famous quote says, “Resentment is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die.” If you’re on this forum you were likely smart enough to have insurance and you’ll move on with your life. The burglar is still skulking around trying to make ends meet by putting his or her liberty at risk.
- Practice compassion for yourself. It is possible you will blame yourself for not having secured things better or what have you, and this self-blame will make you do irrational things like not claiming everything that was lost, or not going back to your insurance to add on to the claim when you realize that the fingerprint powder is never coming out of the carpet. You paid for that insurance for years. Claim everything (and not a penny more – don’t let a burglar tempt you into committing insurance fraud.)
- Check your keys and access cards. In the adrenaline-filled moments after a burglary, you might not think about the fact that if the burglar took a set of car keys, office keys, or access cards to other facilities, they might burglarize those at a later time. Think about that and check that you still have all of them.
- Change your locks immediately and practice extra awareness for several weeks after the burglary. Skilled burglars apparently know that they have roughly seven minutes to grab what they want before the police will arrive (assuming an alarm system was in place). If, during those seven minutes, they saw some other things they want that they don’t have time to grab, they might come back in the following days to finish their work. They might also have stolen a set of keys to make it easier to break in.
- Have some chocolate. Chocolate makes everything better.
Looking forward to additional insights from the community.