After a Break-In, Do This First

After a Break-In, Do This First


Coming home to find that your home has been robbed is a terrible experience. You may become overwhelmed with intense feelings of violation, fear, or anger. Those emotions can make it hard to think about the practical steps that need to be taken next.

That’s why we’ve put together this simple checklist. Although we hope you never need it, at least you will be prepared.

Call the Police

The first thing you should do is call the police. The sooner you place the 911 call, the sooner help will arrive. You’ll need to give your name, address, and a brief description of what happened. Try to stay calm.

Wait for Help

If you arrive home to see a window broken or an exterior door open, don’t go inside. Your first instinct may be to charge in and assess the damage. However, there’s a possibility that the burglar is still inside.

If possible, wait at a neighbor’s house. It’s also important that you do not start trying to fix anything or put your home back in order before police arrive to investigate.

Secure Your Pets

If you have pets at home, you should secure them as soon as possible. During a break-in, your pets will probably be terrified. If a door or window was left open, they might have run outside.

Talk to Your Insurance Agent

Your insurance agency will likely go over a list very similar to this one with you. They can advise you on what to document and the information you’ll need to gather.

They’ve dealt with this kind of call before, and it can help to have a calming voice on the other end of the line telling you how to proceed.

Start Documenting

When the police arrive, make sure to note down names and badge numbers. Once they’ve made sure the criminals are no longer at the scene, they’ll investigate.

You’ll need to do your own documentation as well. Photograph everything and write down as many details as you can. This will be helpful for the insurance claim.

It’s totally normal to continue noticing things that are missing hours or days after the fact. When my home was robbed a few years ago, I did not realize that my guitar was missing until the following day.

The shock was so overwhelming that it was difficult to focus. Just keep photographing and writing things down as you notice them.

Notify Your Bank–And Your Neighbors

If you believe that the burglars might have gotten your credit card or bank information, put in a call to your financial institutions. They can freeze your accounts and issue new cards, if needed.

You should also let your neighbors know what happened. This isn’t to get sympathy or stir up drama. Thieves often target neighborhoods repeatedly, so your neighbors need to know what happened. They may also be able to help with the investigation if they noticed a suspicious person or vehicle nearby.

Clean Up

Once the police and the insurance company give you the all-clear, you can start cleaning up. This can be an emotional process, especially if the thieves were careless or violent.

Many “professional” housebreakers are fairly fast and efficient, checking for easily pawned items like firearms, electronics, and jewelry while leaving the home largely untouched. However, you may have to deal with broken glass, splintered wood, or other hazards as you clean up. Wear gloves and sturdy shoes.