Though having professional residential security systems decreases the chances of being robbed by 300 percent, the FBI estimates 2.2 million homes are burglarized each year. Most people believe it could never happen to them, and chances are, it won’t. It’s better to be prepared, however, just in case you come home one night and find the family’s heirloom diamond necklace has been whisked away.
Following is some advice from law enforcement professionals about what to do (and not to do) if you’ve been robbed.
1)Call the police.
The longer you put off this first step, the less likely it is you’ll recover whatever was stolen. If you have burglar alarm systems, the security company will contact the police for you. If not, contact them immediately.
Unless you’re absolutely certain the burglar has left, it is best to the leave the premises to make this call. Use your cell phone or go to a neighbor’s house to call if necessary.
2) Gather all the information you can
If you saw the burglar, try to remember everything you can and write it down immediately. The next few hours will be hectic, so details could get fuzzy during this time. The police will want to know the sex, age and race of the burglar as well as what clothing they were wearing and which direction they went.
Also, assess your surroundings. Officers will be trying to determine how the burglar entered, what was taken, if there were one or more participants, and if they left on foot or by car. Any information you can give them to help answer these questions will be helpful.
3) Take pictures
Photos are just as important before the crime as afterwards, so take pictures of your home now, just in case. If the robber takes that heirloom diamond necklace, a photograph will help police hunt it down.
Take photos after the burglary as well, but be careful not to disturb anything in the process. Unfortunately, your home has become a crime scene and police will need to comb through all the evidence to conduct a proper investigation.
Police warn, however, you should never take a picture of the burglar. Though a photo would help in the investigation, it’s not worth your life.
4) Contact your insurance company
The company that handles your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will want to see the police report. In addition to the policy report number, the insurance company will ask the same questions that the officers asked. This is another good reason to write down any details you remember and keep it handy.
5) Make any necessary repairs
If the burglar broke into a window or busted down a door, you’ll want to have this repaired immediately. Sometimes, burglars will return to the same house if they had to make a quick getaway and know they left valuables behind.
Burglars have been known to take spare keys, so be sure to take an inventory of yours. If you find some are missing, experts suggest changing the locks immediately.
6) Reach out to neighbors and family
Let the neighbors know your house has been robbed. Burglars have a tendency to work a neighborhood for as long as they can, so the more people who are watching out for the perpetrator the more likely he or she will be caught.
Being robbed is an emotional experience. Your sense of security will be shaken, and it may be hard to relax for a while. Once you’ve contacted the police and insurance company, and you’ve ensured your home is secured, call a friend or family member. You will appreciate the support they can provide until things get back to normal.