Help! Burglars Broke into my House!

Hugh Vandivier
Written by Hugh Vandivier
Updated July 31, 2015
burglary burglar crowbar
On average, burglars can take only 10 minutes to rob your home. ©Thinkstock

You return home from work to find your door forced open. "Surely not a burglary!" you exclaim to yourself.

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As your disbelief melts into realization, stay calm and follow these steps:

1. Do not go in the house. You don't want to disturb the crime scene.2. Call the police.3. File a report with the officer.4. Document what’s missing or damaged.5. Check whether your neighbors saw anything.6. Notify your insurance agent and file a claim.

As you compile a list of what's missing, be sure to check online classified and auction sites as well as resale stores and pawn shops in your area. The website Stolen911 can help as you search for your stolen items. If you suspect that a place is selling something of yours, make sure it's on the report and notify police to handle recovery.

Burglary by the numbers

• Thieves strike twice as often during the day, usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.• July and August see the most break-ins, and February the fewest.• Burglars spend and average of 10 minutes inside a home.• Their most common entry point is the back door.• From the most recent data available, the FBI reported close to 2 million burglaries in 2013 (the most recent year data was available). That’s one burglary every 16 seconds.• Reported losses amounted to an estimated $4.5 billion in 2013. Average loss per break-in was $2,322.

Most stolen items:1. cash2. electronics3. firearms4. jewelry5. prescription drugs

Where they look first:• dresser• nightstand• under the mattress• medicine cabinets• master bedroom, living room or dining room

Take steps before a break-in occurs

Document your valuables

• Take a video camera or smart phone and walk through your house documenting items in each room of your home.• Note any distinguishing marks, make, model and serial numbers.• Keep the video on a thumbdrive in a safe and secure place, like a safety deposit box.

More: 7 Ways to Protect Your Home from Theft

Lock it up

You can buy a fire-proof home safe for a little as $24. Just be careful where you put it! Leaving it in your office or bedroom provides easy access for theives to pick it up and take it with them. Hide it in the basement out of sight.

Put eyes on it

Current pricing on home surveillance set-ups makes installing your own system a much more afforable option. One kit runs about $200 with 10 days of storage that you can watch remotely for about $9 a month. If you feel more secure with a professional installation, check Angie's List.

More: Should I install security cameras?

Getting alarmed?

Home security systems can provide peace of mind for you and your family. Angie’s List members report paying an average of $739 for an alarm system installation, and many members paid between $600 to $850. For those homeowners looking to ditch the extra cost of an antiquated home phone, some systems no longer require a landline.

Either through improper setup or improper arming, false alarms can end up costing you. Many communities are now issuing fines to homes with repeat false alarms and escalating to hundreds of dollars for multiple offenses.

Podcast: Do I Really Need a Home Security System?

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