Are you prepared if your house were burglarized?

My girlfriend returned home last week to find that her house had been burglarized. She had only been gone an hour!

Her back door had been smashed in and everything was taken. They had gone through every drawer and closet and even flipped over all the mattresses.

TVs, computers, wedding rings, check books, credit cards, passport… everything was gone! (They missed her iPad that was in the magazine rack. Let that be a lesson to you kids.)

She was so smart because she took the kids out of the house before they realized what happened, and they went for a playdate at their friend’s house for two days while the parents got the house sorted out. I don’t think the kids know they were burglarized. She didn’t want to scare them, which was very wise.

So my question is: Would you be prepared if your house was burglarized?

  1. Do you have insurance on everything – including computers and jewelry that might fall outside your regular homeowner’s policy?
  2. Do you have a list of everything in your house so insurance can replace it? Does anyone have this? Creating this list feels overwhelming. A friend said she thought Clark Howard suggested to videotape everything. It’s easier than making the list plus you have photographic evidence of your stuff. This sounds more doable.
  3. How would you get cash if your checkbooks and credit cards were off the table? (They took a cash advance off her husband’s work credit card but I am wondering about leaving yourself cash in a safety deposit box?)
  4. Do you keep your passport and other important papers or jewelry in a safety deposit box? Safety deposit boxes don’t seem to be in vogue anymore but they may be cheaper than carrying insurance on items such as jewelry you rarely wear.
  5. What would you tell the kids? Would you have the presence of mind to get the kids out of the house before they figured it out? (Her kids are little. I think my big kids would have figured it out.)

81 comments Add your comment

Jeff

September 22nd, 2011
4:55 am

Based on the alarm commercials, paying a lot to an alarm company increases the peace of mind for women. Is that true?

Insurance, an alarm, a well hidden-quickly accessible gun (along with proper training and no fear to use it), and a full sized dog help also.

MomsRule

September 22nd, 2011
6:11 am

Jeff – re peace of mind for women – I have to answer YES! We have had our security system for 11 years now and I love it. I don’t mind the monthly monitoring fee at all as it does provide me peace of mind. I know several people that have security systems and pay their montly monitoring but rarely actually turn the system on. I don’t under this practice. We use the system everyday. Not only do I sleep better but I am more comfortable leaving my boys home alone.

Once I came home to learn that the police had been to the house after being notified by the alarm company that someone had opened the front door. Obviously the “intruder” was scared off as nothing was out of place. So, yes, it brings me a good deal of peace.

Just a few weeks back I was napping but woke to a police officer at the door. It seems my youngest, while setting the alarm, accidentally triggered the “panic” alarm. Oops! But it was nice to know that had something been wrong the feature was effective at bringing assistance.

We have insurance on most everything and I would have no problem withdrawing funds directly from the bank. You don’t need a checkbook or credit card to get at your money.

Videotaping everything has long been recommended by insurance companies.

I wouldn’t hide being burglarized from my children. I see no value in lying to them. If you really did lose everything you certainly aren’t going to get it all replaced in two days so how do you explain all the missing items? More lies?

I don’t have a safety deposit box. I would prefer having a fire safe bolted to the closet floor. (on my to do list)

Van Jones

September 22nd, 2011
7:25 am

Back in college I worked for an alarm installation company and they PUSH, PUSH, PUSH the monitoring service like crazy because it’s a cash cow for them. They spin it like the cops knock 5 seconds after the alarm sounds,however, the realities are different. If the initial noise of the siren does not scare the burglar off then the 10-15 minute wait for the cops certainly won’t. Talk to your police dept and see how low on their prioity list these calls are – because of the unbelievable high percentage of false alarms. Jeff hit it on the head… a well hidden-quickly accessible gun (along with proper training and no fear to use it).
But if it makes you feel safer then, by all means, do it!

Reality Check

September 22nd, 2011
7:45 am

You have a girlfriend? That’s hot.

RJ

September 22nd, 2011
8:16 am

My home was burgalarized. We were as prepared as anyone could be. We have an alarm system, however it didn’t scare away the criminals. The cops were called, but it took them nearly 30 minutes to get there! The reason we were given is that there had been cutbacks and they had less than 200 officers to cover several cities in our county. Sad but true. What they stole was replaced. There’s only so much you can do to protect yourself. I do own a gun and have no problem in using it to protect myself.

Mark

September 22nd, 2011
8:16 am

Why is it on those alarm company commercials they ONLY ever show a white guy (decked out in all black with the wool cap) breaking into the houses? I’m just sayin….

thewindwhistler

September 22nd, 2011
8:28 am

That is almost a great question. I almost like it. There is one sure fire way to keep burglars out. That is a burglar alarm. I set mine when I leave the house. It makes a horrific noise. It cost me around $10.00 at Walmart. I have never been” burgled”, that is a new term for those victims of burglary. I never advertise I have assets. Burgleds say that they feel invaded when burgled.

oneofeach4me

September 22nd, 2011
8:33 am

@Jeff ~ I actually have more peace of mind with my .38 and my TWO BIG dogs (one is an APBT and the other is an APBT and Pointer mix). An alarm may scare some burglars off… but best believe my dogs will scare them all AND chase them down the street! However, whatever gives you peace of mind.. to each their own.

Lori

September 22nd, 2011
8:34 am

Can you ever REALLY be prepared to be burglarized? Especially if you are home. I don’t care about my stuff, but my problem is the split bedroom plan of my house. How do I get to my babies down the hall??

shaggy

September 22nd, 2011
8:38 am

Sure.
1.) LARGE, LOUD alpha dog that WILL tear you up has and the run of the house…plus a smaller, number 2 dog that provides moral support. We don’t let anyone get too familiar with alpha, except us, and he WILL (read trained) bite and run up the body, to the throat. If he ever gets one, I will not feel sorry for the scum that lays in a pool of throat blood, just inside my door. I will give alpha extra milkbones and LOTS of praise.
Don’t give me the whine of “what if he bites a kid or something?” He won’t, and is great with kids…when he’s not guarding HIS house. If a stupid teen punk happens to target us…go back to the throat bite thing…teach your kids to respect other people’s property…or else.
2.) Layer 2 – adequate calibre firearms and pepper spray, strategically placed (concealed) for self defense. Wife and boy are trained and I must say, pretty good shots…good grouping in the bullseye with both pistol and rifle.
3.) Neighbor watch – We make sure our neighbors know who is welcome, and everybody else is not…it’s that simple. We do the same for them.
We tell them when we are going to be away, and they tell us.

Pretty cool huh?

Yeah, TV makes...

September 22nd, 2011
8:40 am

…you think that only white guys rob houses, only white women get PMS, but a whole lot of black AND white people have problems with erectile dysfunction…

But, back to the topic du jour – I came home from work one day many years ago as I had to leave town unexpectedly on business – when I arrived home I walked in on my home being BUGLARIZED (not burgled). Anyway, as I came in the front door, the perp ran out the front door. We lived on the main street of Avondale Estates at the time and I ran out to the sidewalk and saw the BLACK guy walking away – at that moment he turned around, saw me, and took off. I went back in and called the local police, whose office was about 1 block away. Took them 12 minutes to get to my house (go figure). I was able to give a description of what the perp was wearing but nothing ever came of it – fortunately, nothing was taken as I interrupted before he could take the stash that was filed up in the living room,. though the house was somewhat ransacked…

DB

September 22nd, 2011
8:41 am

We have a fireproof safe in the house that I keep difficult-to-replace things in, along with a DVD video of the house (but it’s a bit outdated, I need to do another one), and passports, SS cards, birth certificates, car titles, insurance papers, etc. For example, I put all the sterling out on the dining room table and photographed it, to verify the number of pieces.

You don’t have to do everything at once — just do a little bit gradually.

I have an alarm system, but I have to admit that I’m not consistent about arming it, because the motion detectors pick up the movements of the cat and dog in the house. We’ve been thinking about getting a new system, but it’s kinda far down the list, right now.

Yeah, TV makes...

September 22nd, 2011
8:42 am

…actuslly, I came in the BACK door…my bad..

shaggy

September 22nd, 2011
8:43 am

Oh, I must add that the only pepper spray we use is bear spray…stops a grizzly charge at 30 feet, so I guess a punk would love that little surprise.

misawa

September 22nd, 2011
8:43 am

Unless your home has been burglarized before, you aren’t prepared. Sure, there are steps you can take to make the after effects a little easier on you, but it doesn’t even begin to cover the mental and emotional strain that comes from the stark realization that your home is no longer the safe domicile you think it is.

Having a firearm available – not locked away in Gringott’s vault with the ammo on the other side of the house – is good. Having a plan is better. My wife looked at me like I was crazy the first time I suggested to her that we walk through what we would do if we suddenly saw a person at our back door that shouldn’t be there. We went through the motions, decided the best place to go to, figured who grabs what kid, when to dial 911 or press the panic button on the alarm, what to do if (gulp!) one of us doesn’t make it or is severely injured, etc.

The point is most families walk through a fire drill. Why wouldn’t you do the same for a potential home invasion?

STP

September 22nd, 2011
8:44 am

After living in my home for 11 years,incident free,they broke in last year. Televisions,video games,passports,you name it,were all gone. My daughter was the first to discover the burglary after coming home from school.

We had no alarm system all this time but thankfully,our homeowner’s insurance was able to replace All the stuff we had.
We immediately got an alarm system. It makes us feel better when we leave the house to go somewhere or when we sleep.

I had the serial number to my laptop and the police were able to match it with the weekly schedule they got from the Pawn shop. They got the culprit and his accomplices and they are due to go to trial soon.
Pawn shops are required by law in GA, to submit returns to the Police on a weekly basis, I believe,of all the stuff sold to them. So it helps to have serial numbers of All your electrical portable
stuff.

I am thinking of buying a gun or two to protect myself and my family in the event that we are burglarized whilst actually at home.

My kids know, obviuosly.

There is no point in hiding the realities of life.

DB

September 22nd, 2011
8:45 am

Observation: People are quick to say they have guns and know how to use them — but most burglaries take place when you aren’t there. What good are the guns, then? I don’t mind guns, and am pretty handy with one, myself — but I’ve just been amused by those who have said, “I have a gun!’ as if that is going to deter a burglar if you are at work or the grocery store.

shaggy

September 22nd, 2011
8:46 am

DB, read number 1 and 3 of my first post.

oneofeach4me

September 22nd, 2011
8:47 am

@Shaggy ~ I would like to add number 3, being that I do it for my neighbors, but they are just too far up their own buts to notice when the neighbor on the other side of them was being robbed in broad daylight!!! Go figure.

shaggy

September 22nd, 2011
8:49 am

oneofeach4me,

Sorry you have such useless neighbors. That is an important layer of security that should work both ways.

oneofeach4me

September 22nd, 2011
8:50 am

@DB ~ that is what the dogs are for. The gun is for protection of my family… not necessarily my material things.

Spacey

September 22nd, 2011
8:53 am

I came home from work one day to find our back door kicked in.
We didn’t loose much, but learned a very important lesson about the cameras!
There were a few videos and pictures that we had not downloaded and saved.
Even if we had just saved them to the computer, they would have taken that if they had found it! You have to get the pictures off your camera and upload them to a site that will save them.
Lastly, we did not have the serial numbers for our television or cameras. The easiest way to do it is to take pictures of all the serial numbers and email them to yourself. Then you can just forward them to the Detective on your case.

oneofeach4me

September 22nd, 2011
8:53 am

@misawa ~ you make a really good valid point. I have never really thought about a “invader” drill. It’s a great idea especially when the kids are young. I am going to have to talk to hubby about this one!

shaggy

September 22nd, 2011
8:54 am

oneofeach4me,

Hell yes on the dog thing. In about 2 years, our beloved alpha will have an “assistant in training” to make the inevitable retirement easier for him and us.

Techmom

September 22nd, 2011
8:59 am

A couple hundred pounds worth of dogs is our alarm system. Our house is wired but we’ve never paid for monitoring b/c I think we’d just set it off more than anything. Now that our son is 16 and close to getting his license though, I’ve actually considered figuring out how it works just so I can set it at night to be sure he isn’t sneaking out. :)

We’ve never had any attempts though there was a string of car break-ins in our neighborhood a couple of years ago. Teenagers were going through unlocked vehicles in the driveways steeling iPods, GPSs and stereos. I constantly have to remind my husband to lock his doors since there is a garage door opener in it (duh! can’t get much easier than that). I try not to worry too much beyond simple safety measures though; I figure if someone reallys wants my stuff, they’re going to figure out a way to get it; alarm system or not.

JOD

September 22nd, 2011
9:02 am

@shaggy – Nicely put.

We have a plan and a back-up plan for if someone breaks in while I am home alone or with the kid, or when Hubs is home. We are both trained to shoot, and wouldn’t hesitate to do so. The NRA has great classes for those who aren’t comfortable around guns, which is a must if one is in your home. Next purchase will be a shotgun – much more intimidating than a pistol.

No video file of the house yet, but we are planning to do that soon.

@Jeff – Does an alarm help me feel safe? Yes, because then I know if someone is coming in the house unexpectedly. I wouldn’t be able to hear someone coming in from different areas of the house. Does monitoring matter? Not really. I am home alone most of the time, and can only count on me to take care of business if something happens.

Actually, DB makes a good point...

September 22nd, 2011
9:06 am

…burglary, defined, is stealing while no one is home or at the office; robbery, on the other hand, is stealing by force or threat of force, when people are present…

So ,yes, most burglaries occur while the home is unoccupied…if the home is occupied, you are being ROBBED

JOD

September 22nd, 2011
9:06 am

Looking at just the posts so far, it’s a sad commentary on our society to see how many have been the victim of a serious crime like burglary.

And, Shaggy makes a good point, too...

September 22nd, 2011
9:11 am

…”
I will not feel sorry for the scum that lays in a pool of throat blood, just inside my door”

Iif your dog gets the would be robber/burglar out in the yard during the attempt to “escape”, make sure he drags the perp back in the house, otherwise you will be on the hook for letting your dog attack and could face legal charges yourself for any injury inflicted on the perp – and in most cases, the perp will get out of jail before you do for having a vicious dog…

jarvis

September 22nd, 2011
9:15 am

On #’s 1 and 2. I have both a list and insurance that includes everything in my house….and then some.

Speaking of, I’ve been meaning to make a claim. I can’t think of the last time I saw my Matisse.

oneofeach4me

September 22nd, 2011
9:20 am

@shaggy ~ that is what we did with our mix. She trained our now Alpha. She is 5 and he is 2. We got him at about 4 months and he has been her shadow ever sense.

oneofeach4me

September 22nd, 2011
9:24 am

@Actually, DB makes a good point… ~ her point was to those saying they have guns.. which will do no good in deterring a “robbery/home invasion/armed robbery” when you are not at home. Which she is correct, and you are too in that not being at home just makes it burglary. However, the rebuttal to her point was “that is what the dogs are for”, they are the deterrent for the perp.

shaggy

September 22nd, 2011
9:28 am

And, Shaggy makes a good point, too…,

His protection zone is inside the house…break a window, force a door, and the punk will get A LOT of bite coming their way.
Outside the house, he is well behaved and still focuses on us, however it would take someone messing (read touching and wife/boy making alarm sounds) with my wife or boy to set him off. Then, it would be the same end of story for the punk. Teach your punks….er kids, to respect other people’s property and space…or else.

shaggy

September 22nd, 2011
9:31 am

JOD,

Get that shotgun. Load it buckshot-slug-buckshot-slug…. That load pattern will take down a full grown grizzly bear.
Not for intimidation, but that is the worst sound a punk in your house will hear….a shotgun chambering a round…if it’s my house, it will probably be the last sound the punk hears.

Genie

September 22nd, 2011
9:31 am

Two years ago a guy came into my apartment while I was there. I don’t know what force of nature or god or whatevrr was looking out after me but I actually had my pistol in my hand when he just opened my unlocked front door and walked in. I was taking the pistol out of my bag and putting it in a drawer in a bureau in the living room like I do every day when I come home. Later I take it and put it in a drawer by my bed. I am a woman and live alone in a marginal neighborhood. I cannot tell you how scary it is when this happens …and he sees you and you see him. The last thig he saw in his life was my gun going off. I am so proud of myself for not hestitaing, but I write this coment for two reasons. 1. Don’t think that something like this can’t happen to you. 2. When someone is shot it’s not like it is in the movies. He writhed on the floor for a long time while I watched him die and while I waited for the police. They gurgle and moan and ask you for help. He even asked me to turn off his car in the parking lot. I asked him if he was going to rape me or kill me and he said he was going to rape me. I kicked him in the face

JOD

September 22nd, 2011
9:36 am

Repeat after me: “I feared for my life, and for the lives of others.”

In all seriousness, this is a good time for everyone to be sure that their homeowners’ policy is set for replacement/rebuild instead of market value. That way, your replaces what actually is stolen (or burns down) instead of the depreciated ‘worth’ of your property.

shaggy

September 22nd, 2011
9:36 am

Genie,

shaggy takes his hat off to the lady. Happy you were so lucky and courageous. It is a terrible thing to have to do, and should be the last choice, but when it’s time, you never shoot to wound.

JOD

September 22nd, 2011
9:39 am

@Genie – Holy crap! So glad you took care of yourself, and thanks for sharing.

@shaggy – That’s brutal. I always heard load buckshot and end with a slug, but that ought to do the trick. The intimidation factor is a perk, but a shotgun would be nice since you don’t have to be as precise to get the job done while scared out of your wits.

DB

September 22nd, 2011
9:42 am

@Genie: I’m so sorry, that must have been extremely traumatic for you. I’m glad you were able to defend yourself. As for the guy on the floor — I have to admit: I hope he was in a LOT of pain, for what he was planning to do.

JJ

September 22nd, 2011
9:45 am

DOGS. Actually, Dog….I had to put one down last week. The big one, with the big mean bark. The little one has a good bark, and probably will attack if someone broke into the house.

However, I don’t worry about it. If they want in bad enough, they will get in. If they want my TV they can have it. Actually, if they can CARRY my tv, then more power to them. I don’t have any fancy electronics or gadgets so a burglar would be very disappointed in my possessions. All my fancy, expensive jewelry is hidden, my daughter doesn’t even know where it is.

But, I’m not going to worry. I have insurance. Material possessions can be replaced. The jewelry would be most upsetting for me, since I have a lot of my grandmother’s jewelry and that cannot be replaced.

Now I do worry about someone breaking into Mom’s house. She’s 81 and lives alone. My grandmother was broken into and attacked when she was 67, and that’s always been in the back of my mind. Mom has an alarm system, and keeps it activated, even when she is in the house and she keeps her doors locked at all times. This is a direct order from my brother, the cop. Several of her neighbors have been broken into, but not her.

Me, my front door is very seldom locked. The only time it is locked, is when daughter is home for the night. If she is out, the house is usually unlocked. I go over the neighbors and leave the house unlocked. I’ve gone shopping on weekends, and left the front door unlocked, and the sliding glass door on the deck is wide open. No stairs on the deck, and the cats like to go outside when it’s nice. My dog installed a doggie door in the screen, so they can get in and out……

But, I don’t worry, and I don’t borrow that worry of being broken into.

Lori

September 22nd, 2011
9:45 am

Question for the gun fans, since this is a “Mom Blog”. What if you have small children. I can’t leave a loaded gun laying around my bedroom. I have told my son over and over NEVER to touch a gun and to immediately find an adult if he ever sees one in someone’s home. But you can’t predict how a small child will react to finding such an interesting thing. So, if I have a gun, it would have to be kept somewhere inaccessible. So when someone storms into my house, how exactly do I get to it before they get to me??

Lori

September 22nd, 2011
9:46 am

Oh yeah, and the vicious Alpha dog thing is sort of off the table too, since I have a small child and a baby. We have the more tame golden retriever type!

Genie

September 22nd, 2011
9:47 am

Thank you to all. God bless

JOD

September 22nd, 2011
9:56 am

@Lori – There’s no simple answer. For older children, teach them to respect guns, meaning DO NOT touch until you learn to use them, and then only touch at a range. I have a preschooler, so that means the guns are accessible to adults, but not to her. Right now we have a fireproof safe in the bedroom, and that’s where Trusty stays, fully loaded. The key is to have a plan, no multiple plans: what you will do and when. For example, if intruder comes in through X, I lock kid in Y, get to gun and go to Z, etc. Really – plan it out and talk about it.

Sylvania

September 22nd, 2011
9:57 am

Bear in mind that a tornado can wipe out a person as much as a burglary. A couple of thoughts:

Jewelry insurance typically costs around $1.50 per $100 of value. That means my ruby ring with an appraisal of $25,000 (I paid much less) would cost $375 yearly to insure. No way I’m paying this, and that’s just for one ring. For $70 per year I rent a very large safe deposit box that houses my jewelry, our passports/birth certificates/etc, and my husband’s coin collection, among other things.

Video-taping is a wonderful idea, but listing high-cost items ($500 and up) and taking their picture should be done. When video-taping clothing, for example, the video tape had better show the label of that $1,000 suit, or you won’t get near that much at payout time.

If I’m a burglar, I’m thinking I’ve hit the mother lode if I see a safe in a house. A safe bolted to the floor can be unbolted. If I’ve got time on my hands, that safe is coming with me come hell or high water. They only way I’d ever feel secure keeping my valuables in a safe is if the safe is way to big for anyway to get out of the house.

I guess guns are a deterrent, but they don’t do you much good if you’re not home when the house is burglarized. The burglar will just steal the gun, too.

Lori

September 22nd, 2011
9:59 am

Reality in my house is all the doors are in the center of the house, and I’m at one end and the kids are at the other. There is no way to grab the kids without confronting an intruder. But I’m not sure owning a gun would make me feel more comfortable. I also have an alarm system and a dog that barks at everything, but I guess I go back to my original comment…Can you ever REALLY be prepared.

shaggy

September 22nd, 2011
10:07 am

Lori,

For both alpha dogs and guns, the key is training.

The alpha dog came first, and IS the boy’s friend. Both of them wouldn’t have it any other way. “I pity the fool” that makes him alarm, The dog sure won’t hurt the boy…just the punk.

Once the boy (and the wife) had grown up enough, the gun safety and markmanship training begins. Then, (I know I will get slammed for this.) go hunting, so the kid knows just what the power of the gun is, and the first living thing they shoot is not human. It made a mark on me as a young lad, and it made the same mark on him, so I don’t worry too much about him….er, and my wife too.

RJ

September 22nd, 2011
10:10 am

@Genie, I’m so sorry this happened to you. My child was home alone when my home was burglarized. I can’t go into detail without still falling apart; all I did was run to the drugstore up the street. She hid but it was quite traumatic for her

RJ

September 22nd, 2011
10:16 am

oopps…I hit enter by mistake.

Anyway, @DB, you’re right. But my neighborhood was being cased. These some criminals had just hit a neighbor down the street two days before hitting us. They probably thought noone was at my house. Another neighbors home was burglarized at 10am in the morning. The mom was there with her kids. They hid in the closet. Most of the time nobody is home, but that’s not always the case.

We learned that most of the crimes were being committed by teenagers. They were being put out of school and had nothing better to do. What makes matters worse is many of them lived in some of the nicest neighborhoods and had no real reason to steal…it just gave them a high I guess.

Van Jones

September 22nd, 2011
10:24 am

Lori, great questions that only you can answer. Here is what we do:
1. Gun is in the closet, up too high for the kids, out of sight behind clothes. Our kids do not climb furnature, much less closet cabinets.
2. If they did somehow manage to get the gun it is in a Blackhawk Serpa holster that adds another layer (albeit rather small) layer of confusion.
3. Glock semi auto withOUT a round chambered. If the kids somehow got the gun and got it out of the holster I know none of them are strong enough to chamber a round (or have any idea what that means or how to do it).
4. We do our best to educate our kids on all dangers in life.
Only you know your kids so only you can make your plan. Hope this helps.