worse than coming home to find your house has been ransacked, your belongings
smashed and strewn across the floor, your television, computer and other
valuables gone. In the wake of this property destruction there is also
a personal toll: gone is your sense of security replaced by a sense
Unfortunately, your odds of having this experience are very good. In
the United States, the FBI has calculated that a burglary occurs every
8 seconds. Three out of four homes will be burglarised within the next
20 years. The statistics for Canada are not as dire but are certainly
cause for concern, particularly in urban areas. It seems we all know
someone who's been robbed.
If you arrive home to find signs of a burglary, leave the premises immediately.
Your first impulse may be to stay and assess the damage but there's
a good possibility that the intruder or intruders are still there. If
you stay you risk turning bad luck into a tragedy. Leave at once and
call the police from a neighbour's house and remain there until the
police have searched your home.
If you turn to leave but find yourself face to face with an aggressive
intruder remain calm. Women should try to be especially controlled;
statistics show 40% of rapes begin as robberies. Running or screaming
can trigger a pursuit reflex. Although your heart may be pounding, tell
the intruder without appearing intimated to take your belongings and
leave. The purpose of their break-in was likely robbery and if they
can do that without being hindered they should not have cause for violence.
Another good reason not to call from your own home is that by using
your own phone you may be destroying evidence. Crime seems to have it's
own learning curve; amateurs are often very careless. They may stay
in your home for a while, helping themselves to food, watching television
or even making a call. By doing so they've left fingerprints which make
the difference between an arrest and a repeat offense.
As the police search your home they can usually also determine the point
of entry. Knowing which area(s) of your home are vulnerable to intruders
can tell you where you need to beef up security in the future. These
are the most common points of entry beginning with the most frequent:
the front door, first floor windows, back door, garage, basement, second
floor and storage area. Consider adding an alarm system, outdoor lighting,
and more secure locks on windows and doors. If tree branches grow near
a window, prune them back.
Once police have determined that the intruders have left and have done
some basic assessments you will be asked to join in the investigation.
You will need to report which items were stolen and their estimated
value. If you took photographs of your valuables beforehand that helps
immensely. You will be able to avoid any problems and delays with insurance
settlements as well as providing police with evidence. (You shouldn't
count on getting your property back but photographs and serial numbers
greatly improve your chances.)
Being robbed can be a shock. It's important to talk about the possibility
of a break-in with your family before you are victimized. Plan to prevent
future occurrences by fortifying your home security: add stronger locks
to window and doors, keep your yard well lit and invest in an alarm
system. If it's feasible in your home, consider getting a dog-big or
small as long as he likes to bark at strangers on your property. Your
sense of security is worth more than any possession.