After a Break-In, 5 First Steps to Take

By Betty Wang, JD on June 17, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

After a break-in, what first steps should you take? Unfortunately, home break-ins happen often, and while there is no surefire way to stop them, there are crucial steps you can take if your home has been broken into.

Your home should ideally be the safest place for you and your family, and it is often very traumatic and devastating when it's burglarized. Not only is there often property damage to deal with, but there's also the stress of being a victim of crime.

Here are the first things that you should do if your home has been broken into:

  1. Call the police. If you suspect that your home has been burglarized, call the police from your cell phone outside the house. It's important to make a police report so there's a record of what happened; but also remember that your home is now a crime scene, and it may be best to stay outside until you get further instructions from the police.
  2. Don't tamper with evidence. While you may want to immediately start investigating what has been taken or tampered with, don't. There is a high probability of forensic evidence such as fingerprints or a stray hair being left behind after a burglary. The more the scene is preserved as it was, the more effective the investigation will be.
  3. Trace back your steps. Did you let anyone into your house recently? A friend of a friend who you didn't know too well? Or a plumber, perhaps? Maybe you were rushed in the morning and may have forgotten to lock your doors? Retrace your steps and give the police as much information as you possibly can, again to ensure a more effective investigation.
  4. Visit local pawn shops or even online. Most, if not all, of the time, burglars will want to make a profit off stolen goods. The quickest way to go about this is usually the nearest or any pawn shops in the area. You may also want to look online as well, at sites like Craigslist or eBay -- especially if the items stolen were more unique goods with identifying features that you know about.
  5. Be proactive about preventing future break-ins. Always think ahead. If you know why the break-in happened -- whether it was because you don't have a home-alarm system installed or because you displayed attractive items in your window -- make sure that these features are not in place anymore and updated for a more secure home in the future for you and your family.

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