It’s a horrible feeling to arrive home to find that somebody has been in your house, going through your things, and just taking what they want. It’s an extreme violation of safety and privacy, and the violation is intense.
Knowing what to do if such a terrible occasion occurs can be the first step into restoring a sense of calm and control. First, always remember that you are the victim. People who are the victims of crime often feel as though it was a personal attack, or that perhaps they did something wrong to “deserve” it, and that is by no means the reality. The truth is that criminals are opportunists, and if it hadn’t been you who was the target, it would have been someone else. You are by no means at fault for the incident.
Step 1: Leave your home and call the police
It’s very tempting to start to look around to assess the damage after a home robbery, but this is not safe. Although most robbers will leave the minute they hear someone else around, in rare instances they may hide somewhere inside. Take your family outside to a safe space – sit in your vehicle with the doors locked or go to a neighbour’s – and call 911.
Step 2: Resist the urge to touch things
Follow the directions of police officers and do not touch anything until they have gathered any evidence they feel will help with the investigation. Often they will dust for fingerprints, which means that you have to be careful to not disturb the scene until they have finished. Fingerprints can be easily destroyed by just the smallest of touch. Also, make note of anything that is not yours and may be the intruder’s for police.
Step 3: Ask your neighbours if they noticed anything
As soon as possible, while memories are fresh, let your neighbours know what happened so they are aware a home robbery occurred nearby, and also ask if they noticed anything out of the ordinary. Any descriptive information, including sex, age, race, clothing, identifiable marks, and the direction they went after leaving your home, is useful.
Police will begin an incident file and will want to speak with any potential witnesses. If any neighbours happen to have video surveillance, ask them to please provide that to police.
Thieves tend to use the same patterns over and over, so the more detail that can be provided about how long you were away from your home, whether or not another vehicle was parked nearby, and how the thieves managed to get in, are valuable for police to cross-compare with other incidents.
Step 4: Begin to take a detailed inventory of missing items
Hopefully you have a detailed home inventory available to help you determine what exactly is missing from your home. You will need a thorough description of each item, and, of course, photographs are extremely helpful. If you don’t have photos, you can find them on the internet or even draw pictures. The make, model, and serial number of electronics will also assist police.
Take photos of damaged property, such as a broken window or door from how the intruders entered your home. The police and your insurance broker will want to know about anything you need to repair or replace.
It’s also possible you may not notice a missing item immediately after a home robbery, so be sure to keep the police and your insurance broker up to date on anything additional you may find is gone.
Step 5: File you home insurance claim
Now that you have a thorough police report, you can file your home insurance claim. Make sure to call within 24 hours of the incident. A claims advisor will work with you through the claims process, and there is a good chance you may be able to recoup the majority of your losses. Depending on the type of incident, they may want to send a claims adjuster directly to your property, which is why it’s important to not start cleaning up entirely until you have been given the ok by both police and your insurance provider.
Step 6: Make sure you and your family are ok
While the details are being worked out, it’s a good idea to take children and pets to a different location for a few days. A home robbery is extremely traumatic, even for our fur babies, and so you may want to keep the most sensitive members of your family away until they can feel safe again.
Step 7: Begin your clean up
Ask friends and family who you trust to assist with putting everything back together. Cleaning up after a robbery is an emotional, difficult task, and you will want support around you.
Step 8: Better safeguard your home
Although there’s nothing you can do to completely protect your home from thieves, there are a number of steps you can take to increase your security.
- Have your locks changed and upgraded in case the thieves managed to get their hands on a set of keys. This will also help increase feelings of safety.
- Improve the locks on your windows and repair any that are broken. Teach your family that it is important to not leave windows and doors unlocked when you are not home.
- Consider adding video surveillance. Systems are far more affordable than in the past and will provide alerts to your phone should something unusual be happening at your home. Plus, you will also be helping to protect your neighbours as well.
- Place motion-detector lights at points of entrance to your property.
- Store important or irreplaceable documents and items away from your home, such is in a safety deposit box.
Calgary Police Services suggests having a nightly ritual for home security that all members of your family are aware of. This helps everyone sleep better at night.
There’s no assurance like good home insurance
Lane’s Insurance is a leading Alberta insurance broker offering the very best in home insurance coverage for complete peace of mind. We work for you, not the insurance companies, and therefore can provide non-biased, expert advice and a number of different options from Canada’s most respected home insurance providers. At Lane’s, you will be partnered with a specialist who will be your personal contact. Even though we may not be your provider, we are always your source for good information.