Read the handy guest article by Insurance Quotes for advice on what to do in the event that you find your home has been burgled while you were out. The article is aimed at a US market, but is equally useful for us South Africans!
The thought of your house being burglarized is probably what wakes you up when you hear a bump in the night and what makes you triple-check your locks when you leave your house in the morning. It’s frightening and violating to know that a stranger has broken into your home and gone through your belongings, and it’s a reality that about 2 million people in the U.S. face every year. If one day you have the bad luck of being one of these unfortunate homeowners, follow these tips on what to do if your house is burglarized.
If you arrive home and can tell that something’s not right — a window’s broken, a door’s wide open, or something else isn’t quite how you left it — don’t go inside. There’s always the chance that the burglars are still in your home and you don’t know how they’ll react if you surprise them. Keep a safe distance, and move on to step two.
Even if the burglars are nowhere in sight and you feel certain that the police won’t be able to catch them or recover your belongings, it’s important to report the burglary to the police. When you realize your home has been robbed, call
91110111 or 112 (for South Africa – from landline or mobile respectively) and have someone come out to your home. Not only can they double-check the premises for the criminals, but they will help you create an itemized list of what was stolen and provide suggestions of what you should do next.
Until the police have arrived and told you they’re finished with the crime scene (your house!), it’s critical that you don’t move anything. They may be able to dust for fingerprints, gather clues, or at least determine how the burglars were able to enter. This is your best hope of the criminals being caught; you never know what the police officers will find!
Once the police leave, you should call your insurance company. It’s important to call the police first because your claims representative will ask you for the police report number. You will have to provide an itemized list of damage and items that were stolen so you can be properly reimbursed. Many policies will cover repairs, such as broken doors, as well as the value of the items. Talk to your representative and patiently answer all of his questions, because they’re essential for getting the money for your losses.
If anything was broken when the burglar entered your home, you need to repair it as soon as possible to secure your home. Your insurance agent might even send someone out to make temporary fixes as soon as you call. Board up any busted doors or windows before you go to bed or leave your house so that no one can enter easily, and make arrangements with a contractor to replace or repair the broken pieces within a couple of days. You don’t want to allow a repeat crime to happen, and just as importantly, you don’t want to be reminded of the break-in for weeks to come.
Home burglaries often affect people very personally, making them feel violated and vulnerable. Do whatever it takes to get back your peace of mind. Install new locks throughout your home, invest in an alarm system, and follow advice on how to prevent your home from being burglarized again. Experts suggest varying your routine, leaving on the radio or TV during the day, and keeping your home well-lit. If you’re going away on vacation, have a neighbor check in on your home to collect newspapers and mail, because a pile of newspapers or an overflowing mailbox can be a clear sign that you’re away.