After a Burglary

The shock of coming home and discovering you've been robbed can blind you to the fact that you could be in danger. "The thief might still be inside your home, armed and dangerous," says Morton Feldman, executive vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Chiefs of Police. "The best policy is to back right out of there, go to a neighbor's home and call 911." There are other ways you can protect your family after a break-in and help prevent another one. The right steps will also boost the odds that the police will nab the thieves and recover all or some of your valuables. Never use your own phone to call the police. Thieves sometimes make phone calls from the house they rob, leaving prints on the receiver and a traceable redial number. Burglars have even been known to watch television, take naps, and raid the refrigerator. So don't move or touch anything until the police arrive. After the police secure your property, you'll be asked to provide a list of what's missing and, if possible, receipts. You'll also need that list for your insurer when you file your claim. Once the police determine the point of entry, quickly repair any damage and beef up security at these locations. Then give your entire home a thorough security check and make any necessary changes now. According to Feldman, most robberies are crimes of opportunity. Protect your home by installing 1-inch-long dead bolts that meet ANSI Grade 2 standards on all entry doors. Supplement the sash locks on your windows with locks that must be opened with a key. Second-story windows should also be secured. And be sure to eliminate branches or trellises that give access to second-story entry points.
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