My house was broken into. What do I do?

If you're wondering what to do after your home was just broken into, you're likely not in a great place emotionally. However, what you do immediately following a break-in is crucial to putting your life back in order as quickly as possible. A burglary can be a frightening experience that may leave you feeling lost and vulnerable, but it is possible to start moving forward after this unfortunate event.

Call the police and file a report.

Are you thinking, "Should I turn to the police?" The answer is yes, and it is the first thing you should do. Calling the police and filing a report puts the incident on record, which is necessary for both insurance claims and if you ever want to potentially find the thief(s) and retrieve your belongings.

If you are not in the house when you discover it has been robbed, do not go into your home to make the phone call.

Also do not touch anything in your home before the police arrive, as you may destroy key evidence the police need for finding and potentially prosecuting the burglar(s).

When the police arrive, make a complete list of all items that have been taken, including a thorough description and the approximate value of each. You may even want to draw pictures and include any unique identifying marks. Make an additional copy for your insurance company. If you saw anybody exit your residence, write down any descriptive information you can, including sex, age, race, clothing, identifiable marks, and the direction they went after leaving your home.

Call the insurance company.

Whether you have homeowner's or renter's insurance, if you file a claim, there is a chance that you could recoup a decent amount for what was stolen. Call within 24 hours and make sure you have submitted all necessary information to the police, as the insurance company will need that information to process your claim. They will likely send over a claims adjuster to investigate the claim in person, so if that is the case, you may want to stay elsewhere until the adjuster can come out so you don't accidentally clean up or tamper with important evidence.

View video footage of the break-in.

Should you already have security cameras in place around your home, you may have the ability to view the video footage of the break-in itself. Emotionally prepare yourself, as it can be even more violating to actually see the burglar(s) break in on camera. Take this footage to the police and your insurance company as further documented proof. Use the footage to determine where the security weaknesses are in your home so that you can begin to figure out where you need to increase safety measures to prevent any future occurrences.

Clean up all signs of the break-in.

Once the break-in has been documented as needed, it's time to start physically putting your life back together. You can start by cleaning up all signs of the break-in-anything that's been broken, items that were strewn about, markings on your walls or floors, and so on. Board up broken windows or doors until repairmen can come to fix them. The sooner you can get your home back in order, the sooner you can move past the break-in.

Come to terms with the break-in emotionally.

Besides losing valuables and having a home turned upside-down, a break-in can also mean emotional troubles for you and your family. A break-in can leave you feeling violated and vulnerable to future robberies, and even with better security measures taken, it may take a while for you to feel completely safe in your home again. But to continue to live your life at home to the fullest, you must try to find comfort in your surroundings and do whatever it is you need to do to repair what damage has been done and move forward beyond this incident. Like with any other life tragedy, time will heal you, and a positive attitude will take you far.

Take measures to better safeguard your home.

You can take certain measures right off the bat to improve the safety of your home and your assuredness in those safety measures. As most break-ins occur through the front door (34 percent) or back door (22 percent), you should buy or upgrade door and window locks. You can purchase motion-sensitive lights for outside your doors, install a dummy security camera, or put your indoor and outdoor lights on timers. You can even put a "Beware of Dog" or home security company sign in front of your home (even if you don't have a dog or home security system, this can help deter burglaries to a certain extent). Our home security checklist can also help you find vulnerable areas of your home, and provides advice for making those areas more secure.

Two of the best deterrents to crime-and which may help you feel safest the fastest following your break-in-are a home security system and alarm monitoring. A home security system includes anything from door and window alarms to motion sensor lights, security cameras, and dog barking alarms. These are a great first step toward making you feel safer in your home.

To take it one step further, alarm monitoring brings an external company into the mix who will be as interested in safeguarding your home, family, and belongings as you are. Should a break-in happen when you're either there or away, the alarm monitoring will alert you and the proper authorities to make sure the burglary is prevented or stopped as best as possible. With these tools, you'll be much less likely to have to ask yourself, "My house was broken into. What do I do?"

If you were recently burglarized, we understand how vulnerable you must feel and how much you want to secure your home so this never happens to you again. Our best recommendation to make this happen is to get a home security system. To find the right one for you, check out the SafeWise System Finder, a tool that helps you compare home security service providers. Putting these providers side by side makes it easier to figure out which features and prices best suit your needs, and SafeWise is here to help. You can also call us at 1-888-662-9835 to speak to a security specialist for more information and a better understanding of your home security options.

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