It is not a scenario that most people want to think about. The idea of someone breaking into your home, invading your privacy, and putting your safety and the safety of your family at risk is the ultimate nightmare for most people. Unfortunately, according to the DOJ, more than 3. 5 million households were burglarized between a four-year period in the early 2000’s.
What makes this statistic more terrifying is the fact that in more than a quarter of these burglaries, at least one family member was home. And in more than 260,000 of these incidents, the person who was at home during the burglary became a victim of a violent crime. These statistics clearly show that burglary and home invasions are a legitimate fear for homeowners. The following are some tips that can keep you and your family safe if you find yourself in this heart-wrenching situation.
Although this is a situation where emotions can run high, you and your family will be safest if you can keep a cool head. Avoid the temptation to want to confront the burglar. If at all possible, exit your home and then call 911.
If you are unable to safely exit your home, but your home has a security system, press the emergency alarm notification so that your security company knows that you need immediate assistance.
If you’re trapped on a second level and cannot get out without encountering the burglar, stay quiet in a safe hiding space until you are certain that the assailant has left your home. If possible, use your cellular phone to dial 911.
If You Encounter the Burglar
This is another situation where keeping a cool head is essential. Do not make sudden movements, do not look at the intruder in the eye, and do not do things that can be interpreted as aggression. Keep your hands plainly visible, preferably at shoulder level. Comply with the burglar’s demands as long as they do not put you or your family’s life in jeopardy. Nothing is worth losing your life over.
If Your Life Is in Danger
In life-threatening situations, the goal should be for you and your family to escape without resorting to violence. In most violent altercations, the criminal has the upper hand. You can attract attention by screaming, making loud noise, or breaking things.
When you are face-to-face with the burglar, make a mental note of their appearance. How tall is he? How is he built? What is his eye color? What is his ethnicity? Does he have tattoos? All of these things can later be given to the police so that you can make a description.
Recovering from a Burglary
Even if you are sure that the burglar has left your home, do not return to your home until law-enforcement officials arrive. Resist the urge to want to confirm what items have been stolen. You can do this once the police get there.
When you get inside the home, don’t touch anything. You could inadvertently destroy evidence such as fingerprints that are extremely powerful tools for prosecutors.
Until law-enforcement officials arrive, find a safe place to stay. It could be at a neighbor’s home, it could be in your car, or it could be in a restaurant down the street.
Cleaning up and Getting Back to Normal
When you finally get back into your home, take inventory. Itemize the things that were taken and provide a complete list to both law-enforcement agents and your insurance company. Take photographs of any property that has been damaged. This includes doors that have been kicked in and windows that have been broken. Also, take note of the make and model of any electronic devices that were stolen.
In the days following a burglary, your home will likely feel like a very unsafe place. Your children may do better if they are with friends or relatives until the home has been put back together.
The process of cleaning up and replacing stolen items can be very traumatic. Ask friends and family to help you as they will not only provide physical support, but they will also provide you the emotional support you need. If during the cleaning process you come across an item that does not belong to you, do not touch it. Immediately call law enforcement as it could be a clue.
Preparing for What’s Next
There is nothing that you can do to 100 percent guarantee that your home will not be broken into again. However, there are a lot of things that you can do to minimize the chances of you suffering another burglary. All of these things require you to be proactive and educate yourself on home security options.
Survey Your Home Security System
While it’s never your fault that your home was burglarized, taking an honest appraisal of your home security system may help you to prevent a future burglary. How was the burglar able to gain access to your home? Are there inexpensive ways that you can help to protect your home from another attack?
Do not be afraid to avail yourself of the expertise of law enforcement officials. They can conduct a survey of your home, and it won’t cost you a penny. Pick their brain on things that you can do, like install a security system, security cameras, or even get a guard dog.
Serialize your expensive electronic items. Many people do not know that most police precincts will do this for you free of charge.
If you did not have a security system prior to the break in, get one. Having a security system in your home takes your risk of being a burglary victim from 1 in 3 to 1 in 250, so it is an investment that is more than worth it.
Finally, be patient with yourself. It may take some time to recover the physical things that you’ve lost. And it will take even longer to recover the sense of peace in your own home. But note that with a little effort and with a little time, your home can feel like a secure place for you and your family to be in once again.