Lessons From Our Experience Being Burgled

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You never really appreciate what it is like to have a crime committed against you until it happens. You can sympathise and empathise but, as with all experiences in life, you don’t really understand how it feels until it happens to you.

We returned home to find people in our house. I didn’t see them straight away but there was a distinctly ‘wrong’ feeling as soon as we opened the front door. Then there was banging towards the back of the house and we knew there were people in there. Rather stupidly my instinctive response was to run to the back of the house shouting, I was so angry! Jeff came sprinting after me, grabbed my arm and pulled me back (thank goodness for logical thinkers!) and we went back out of the front door in time to see the burglars pile into a car and roar off. I won’t bore you with the details of the following days but we learnt several lessons, which I would like to share with you. That way, if a similar thing should happen to you the following days might be a bit easier than ours were.

1) Insurance, Insurance, Insurance

Because we no longer own our own home and don’t need homeowners insurance it was easy to not get around to getting renters insurance. Big mistake and a hard lesson learned. It doesn’t matter how tight money is, if you have items that would be impossible to afford again try to afford to insure them. It does seem like year after year of paying for nothing but one day you might be thankful for it.

2) Keep a record of what you own

Of course I don’t mean you should list every last belonging, but you should have a list of larger purchases, electronics, jewelry, keepsakes etc. Along with this you should list makes & models, serial numbers etc and try to keep the receipts – they are invaluable in proving how much you actually paid. If you have items that were gifted or are family items, consider getting them valued and take photos of everything too.

3) Print out your record – Don’t keep it on your laptop

When your laptop disappears under the arm of your neighbourhood burglar you’ll suddenly realise how much info was on it. Go through your laptop / tablets / computers and think about what you could not replace if it was gone. Then copy those items to a flash drive. Keep the flash drive far away from the electronics and if you’re unlucky enough to have your electronics stolen those precious photos of your child’s birth won’t be gone forever.

4) Don’t automate too much

If you have password remembering software to save you the trouble of remembering and logging in all of the time – make sure you don’t use it to auto-fill your bank details or government websites. Thieves can access and download this data before you even discover you’ve been burgled.

5) Clear out your history

In the same vein, set your electronics to delete your internet history every day or when you log out. This will stop thieves being able to see which sites you visit and maybe work out where you bank etc.

6) Keep your documents apart

We kept our passports, medical cards, IDs, birth certificates etc in one place so we knew they were all together, easily accessible and as a consequence they were very portable and easily removed.

7) Remember it’s not a big thing for your local police

Don’t be surprised when a report is taken over the phone & you are asked to come into the station the next day. For you it is a horrible violation of your personal space and should be investigated immediately and thoroughly. I have no experience of rural police but the urban & suburban forces appear to deal with this so frequently and have so little hope of solving it that they barely want to take the report. A CSI team will not be thundering their way to your home, leaving no stone unturned until they track down the burglar because a flake of his skin showed he had a rare disease and was consequently easy to track down.

8) Afterward – be mindful of everyone’s feelings

This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s easy for some parents to become so wrapped up in dealing with the loss that they forget that their kids may be harbouring feelings of fear or guilt that they are not expressing. Talk with them, even if they seem ok, reassure them and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings with you. If replacing items is financially difficult consider putting a few new toys / books etc near the top of the list. You may not be ale to replace the TV or stereo anytime soon but if the kids have some new or replacement items it will help them to feel happier and settled again more quickly.

9) Look after yourself

Just as you need to be there for the kids, remember to look after yourself and your partner too. If you feel uncomfortable in your home and moving is not an option, think about what you can do to ‘reclaim’ it. Decorate, swap rooms around, choose a scent that you’ve never used before & spray it in every room – anything you can do to make yourselves feel better will help. Some people find they don’t want to leave their home for fear of what they will come back to. I felt this way but forced myself to go out. You still get a horrible sinking ¬†feeling when you open the door and pause to listen when you go in, ¬†but at least you’re not letting it spoil more of your life than it has to.

10) Have a plan

Trust me, when your entire working life is on your uninsured, stolen laptop it can be a shock to the system. So, just incase, have a binder of important emails, deadlines etc. See who would be willing to lend you their laptop or even just allow you some time on theirs. If you can just get an auto responder set up for emails and a message out on social media, it will give you some breathing room and inform your contacts of the situation.

and remember

They are just things. We can live without a tv & stereo. The kids are all in one piece – even without tablets, phones, x-boxes or PlayStations. I can work on the computers at the library and I get to come home to all of my family. That’s what is really important, everything else will just work itself out.