Home Burglary Checklist
What to do after a burglary—and how to make sure it never happens to you again.
Step 1: Call the Police
When you discover your home has been burglarized, your first instinct will most likely be the correct course of action: call the police. If your home is equipped with a security system, the police are automatically notified the moment an alarm triggers.
Unless you’re absolutely sure the burglar isn’t still inside your home, wait for law enforcement at a safe location (a neighbor’s house, in your car parked down the street, at a relative’s). If a burglary happens while you are still inside your home, get out safely as quickly as possible.
Once authorities arrive, provide them with as much detailed information as you can. Do not go back into your home until they tell you it is safe to do so.
Step 2: Remain Calm and Touch Nothing
In times of distress, it’s easy for instinct to take over. In the event of a home burglary, your initial instinct may be to clean up the house or sift through your belongings. Try to resist this—you could end up compromising key evidence. Leave broken glass, furniture, or doors be as well, as they could provide insight to the police about the burglary.
Though a home invasion is frightening, it is important to try to remain as calm as possible. This makes it easier for emergency personnel or monitoring agents to effectively help you. It’s also easier to avoid disturbing anything if you can remain focused and level-headed.
Step 3: Take An Inventory
Make a list of missing items such as electronics, photographs, jewelry, purses, credit cards, wallets, cash, watches, and furniture. Take photographs and recordings of each room in your home to document stolen items and damages (broken doors, shattered windows, etc.). Carefully inspect each room even if you’re unsure it was entered.
Give copies of your list, along with photos of the missing items, to police to include in their report. Send to your insurance company to include in your claim. Remember to keep a copy for yourself.
Step 4: File An Insurance Claim
After you’ve taken an inventory of your belongings, call your insurance company. The claims agent will likely ask for details about the burglary, such as an approximate timeline of events, stolen items, and any damage to your property. This is where your list comes in handy. You’ll also want to provide the police report and photographs of the house and any damage.
During the call, your insurance company will schedule a claims adjuster to come to your house. Until the adjuster arrives, try to leave everything as is so they can properly assess loss and damage. It’s not uncommon for adjusters to provide advice on precautions you can put in place to prevent future incidents, such as changing locks and installing cameras.
Step 6: Speak with Your Neighbors
Once the police have taken their report and you’ve made the necessary calls, it’s time to go knock on some doors and talk to your neighbors. Let them know what happened so they can be on the lookout for any suspicious activity around their own home, as neighborhoods that have already had break-ins tend to be revisited by burglars.
Speaking with neighbors might also provide more information on your home’s invasion. They may have noticed someone around your property, or have security cameras that recorded something of note. It never hurts to ask—you may get more information that you thought you would.
Step 7: Secure Your Home
Once you’ve straightened up your home and things are somewhat back to normal, it’s time to enhance your home’s security to make sure this never happens to you again. If you have a security system, consider adding devices or upgrading your plan for additional monitoring coverage. If you don’t have a security system, seriously consider installing one. According to a study, 60% of burglars will not attempt to break into a home with visible security in place.