- Immediately following a break in: Call the police immediately. You must file a police report within 24 hours in order to file an insurance claim, and if you report it quickly, there is a greater likelihood of the police catching the culprit. If you get a look at the intruder, make notes while you’re waiting for the police, so that you will be able to clearly tell them details like the person’s sex, race, age, clothing, height and which direction he or she went. You can look around to see what’s missing, but don’t touch anything if you can help it, and consider going to a neighbor’s house until the police arrive. Once the police give you the go-ahead, you‘ll be able to begin reclaiming your home, by cleaning up broken glass, boarding up windows, discarding broken or unusable furniture, and covering damage to make the house feel more like your home again.
- The next day: If you haven’t already done so, call the insurance company and file a claim. You’ll need to provide the number from the police report to do this. Now is the time to take pictures documenting damage and loss, as well as collecting receipts, serial numbers and other pertinent information, so that you can provide the claims adjuster with this information when he or she comes out to the house.
- In the coming weeks: Identify your home’s weak spots to prevent a future break-in. Reinforce your windows, install deadbolts and install motion detecting security lights to make your home a safer place. Now is the time to decide on a new home security system, as well, enlisting the help of experts to protect your assets. Visit pawn shops in your area, to see if you can recover any of your belongings; sometimes items show up weeks later, so keep checking back for things that are important to you.
- In the long run: Having your living space violated has a much more far-reaching impact than the simple loss of belongings. If you or a family member experiences ongoing feelings of anxiety you may want to consider counseling to help cope with the emotional and psychological repercussions of a break-in. After all, it’s your home and it should feel like it.