This is a blog post I never expected to write. But, since it happened to my family, it could happen to yours. (Though I hope it never happens to you!) This is one of those “better safe than sorry” instances.
It’s been 6 months since my family’s home break-in nightmare occurred. We were on vacation in Orlando, FL when my dad (who was taking care of the house while we were away for the week) called and told me that our house had been burglarized and our vehicles stolen.
To be honest, when my dad first told me the news, I went numb and froze up. I didn’t know what to say or how to respond. So, I handed the phone to my husband, who was able to think rationally and give my dad our vehicle information so that my dad could call the police and start the police report process.
What To Do First
What’s done is done. You cannot change it. Instead, you need to focus on your next steps with a clear head.
Account For Any Pets
If you have pets, have someone verify that they are ok and accounted for.
We had two cats in our house at the time of the break-in, and an added stress was that one cat was missing for a day or so after the break-in.
Police Report/Pictures of Damage
Have your caretaker call the police and have the police take photos of the damage. If you know what was stolen, (like vehicles), give the police that information, so they can begin trying to recover the stolen vehicles.
Try and Enjoy the Rest of Your Vacation
Try not to let the home break-in ruin the rest of your vacation. Easier said that done, I know. My family still had a few days left of vacation when we found out about the break-in.
I tried to make the best of our last few days, though I often got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I thought about the break-in, and dreaded what was in store for us when we returned home.
What To Do When You Get Home
Grab a notebook and go room-to-room, documenting what has been stolen. This is a process that may take several days, as it is not uncommon for you to discover months later, that you forgot to account for such-and-such that was stolen.
Don’t just assume that the thieves grabbed the high-dollar items. Some of our random stolen items included: a trashcan, vacuum cleaner, storage baskets, tools, jeans, collared shirts, steel-toed boots, etc.
Update Police Report
Update your police report with all the stolen items you can think of. Refer back to your notebook for this.
Contact Insurance Companies
Contact your homeowner’s insurance company and car insurance company and let them know what has happened. Have your police report number handy to give to the insurance companies.
Take Damage Pictures
Take pictures of any damage incurred. (For example, our back door was kicked in and TVs were ripped from the walls, causing sheetrock damage and door damage).
Clean Up the Mess
Clean up the mess the thieves made.
Our master bedroom was completely ransacked and everything from the dressers and closets was thrown onto the floor. Having a sense of humor helps when cleaning up the mess. I found it comical that the thieves believed we would hide our most valuable possessions in our sock or underwear drawers. Still, it’s hard not to feel violated when you know that someone has been through all your stuff.
Communication with Homeowner’s Insurance/Car Insurance Company
Keep in close contact with your homeowner’s insurance company and find out what their method is for stolen property reimbursement. (In my family’s case, we had to submit receipts and product manuals/warranties to get reimbursed for our stolen property.) *Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep your manuals/warranties etc. handy in case you ever need them to prove you owned such-and-such property.
In the case of stolen vehicles, most car insurance companies will offer you a rental car option, and then you will have to wait it out for a month or so to see if the police end up recovering the stolen vehicle.
My husband’s vehicle was never recovered, so he ended up receiving a check for the depreciated value of his vehicle. My Toyota Corolla was recovered, but deemed a total loss, so I also received a check for my vehicle’s value.
Replace Door Locks
If the thieves had access to your house keys, then you need to replace your door locks. If your vehicle was stolen, then you might also need to replace your garage door opener.
In addition to replacing locks, my family had to replace our whole backdoor, since it was damaged in the break-in.
Order New Credit Cards, Debit Cards, Checks
If you had checks or credit cards stolen, order new credit cards and open a new bank account.
Closely Monitor Bank Accounts
Our family had important documents stolen, so we have been proactive about preventing identity theft by using LifeLock and constantly monitoring our bank accounts/credit card accounts.
Reset Online Passwords
It’s also a smart idea, if you had any sensitive documents stolen, (or a laptop stolen like my family), to reset all your online passwords to prevent hacking and identity theft. Honestly, in this day and age, it’s a good idea to update your online passwords on a regular basis anyway. Your house does not have to be burglarized for your information to be hacked.
Home Security System
Last but certainly not least: Invest in a home security system! This is crucial for peace of mind after your home is burglarized. I hate that it took a home break-in for my family to take the leap and purchase a home security system, but I am so glad we have it now. I can sleep securely knowing that my house is being monitored, if anyone attempts to break-in again.
Having my house broken into while I was on vacation was a horrible experience, but there was a silver lining.
Losing my car forced me to purchase a much-needed family-sized vehicle, sooner rather than later.
Because we did not immediately run out and replace everything that was stolen, after our insurance settlement was completed, we were left with some extra money in our bank account. This allowed my family the opportunity to hire a fence company to replace our backyard fence that was practically falling over.
Have you experienced a home break-in? Do you agree with my steps to overcome a home burglary?