The first thing to do after a break-in is to call the police, plain and simple. This may sound like the obvious thing to do, but a lot of people go inside their homes or apartments before knowing that it is safe to do so. Most people are in such shock and disbelief when they discover they have been victimized, and this is when thinking clearly and rationally is more important than ever.
Your personal safety is more important than anything else, and waiting for the police is essential. While the offenders are usually long gone before their victims return home in most cases, there are times when they are still there. The only way to be completely sure is to let the police walk through the entire property to make sure it is safe to go inside.
Once the police give the all clear, the next step is to assess the extent of the damage and loss. The police will also begin their investigative procedures which may include taking pictures, dusting for fingerprints or simply asking a few questions.
It might be a good idea for you to take pictures of the damage as well. This will help when you file a claim with your insurance company. Your photos may also be helpful if the offender is ever caught and brought to trial, and they will provide excellent evidence to support the prosecution’s case.
In addition to taking pictures to record the condition of your home or apartment after a break-in, conducting an inventory is essential. This involves going through every square inch of your home and listing items that you know are missing or destroyed. Additionally, you will want to inventory all of the physical damage that occurred as a result of the break-in as well.
Most homeowners insurance policies cover property damage as well the replacement of valuables that were lost or stolen. This can include damage to anything in the home from furniture and appliances to broken doors and windows. After you have taken an inventory of the condition of your home and your valuables, the next step is to contact your insurance company.
While most insurance companies will send out an adjuster to evaluate the condition of your property, some will just require you to fill out some paperwork or answer questions. Having copies of your pictures, police report and inventory on hand will help to solidify your claim and eliminate annoying processing delays.
You should never start to clean up after a break-in until all of the investigative work is completed. How long this takes will depend on your insurance company and the police investigation. The police usually finish their investigative work in a couple of hours, but sometimes the insurance companies take longer. If you start cleaning up and putting your home back in order, you can run the risk of eliminating evidence that can be used to support your claim.
Becoming the victim of a home invasion is a unsettling experience that often does more psychological damage than anything else. Damage can be repaired and valuables can be replaced, but it may take a while before the emotional scars heal.
Following these steps will help you to not only protect yourself and your family, they will help you to create a claim that is solid and hard to challenge. As difficult as this process can be for many, these practical considerations can make rebuilding your life a lot easier and trouble free.