Now What?: A Guide to Coping After Burglary

When something feels like home, it should be sacred, almost like a sanctuary.  It is secure, it is safe.  But not until someone violates your space and breaks into your private world.

At the mention of burglary, people automatically think about monetary loss.  They think about the victim and how devastating it must be to lose everything you worked so hard for.  But what a lot of people do not realize is how violated a victim feels after a burglar breaks into the one place he thought was the safest — his home.

In an article for the Los Angeles Times, psychologist Mory Framer described the many layers of emotions that a burglary victim goes through: feeling of being violated, helplessness, anger, sadness, fear.  He said most victims cannot deal with the realization that an intruder has invaded their most sacred space. These intrusions are taken very personally by victims because to them, the home is an extension of themselves.

Homes are like castles to a lot of people.  So imagine how heart-breaking it must be to have that last bastion of security breached.  The fear that it may happen again is the reason why victims have trouble putting themselves to sleep, getting themselves to trust people, and make themselves believe that everything is going to be okay.

When burglary victims tell their story, they usually get responses like:  “thank God you weren’t home” or “thank God there was no confrontation.”  But while you are unharmed, the feeling of being violated does not go away.  According to most experts like Framer, there is no timetable for recovery and the best way to cope is to just let all the bad emotions take their course. Here are some of the steps that you can do to increase your home’s security and to avoid being a target of burglaries (again).


Report the Incident

Letting the police know immediately after the incident just happen or if it is still occurring will heighten the chance of stopping the burglar. Though not all break-ins would be stopped, the police will at least get a record of it and your insurance agent would take notice about the valuables that would be covered. If you’re away and your house have been broken into, don’t touch anything that the burglar might have touched and wait outside for the police to arrive.


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Safeguard Your Home

While you let yourself heal, there are practical and easy things you can do to make sure you won’t have to go through that ordeal again.   According to FBI statistics, more than 2 million home break-ins are recorded every year, 30 per cent of which were through an open window or an unlocked door.  Home intrusions happen every thirteen seconds and homes without a security alarm system or surveillance equipment are 300 percent more likely to be broken into.

Burglars mark their target through a simple selection process — homes with easy access, greatest amount of cover and escape routes.  This process is even made simpler by homeowners who fail to take simple precautions.

According to a 2009 study by the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, installed surveillance cameras or a home alarm system discourages a would-be burglar from breaking into his target residence.  It also showed that neighborhoods where burglar alarms are densely installed have lower incidence of home burglaries.

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Showing the same results is a study by Cromwell-Olson-Avary about offenders’ perception of risk in criminal activities.  It found that nearly all surveyed convicted burglars, 90 per cent of them, said they would avoid homes with alarm systems.  Seventy-five per cent said they would think the planned attack over once they see even just alarm signs or decals.

A research team from the University of North Carolina also interviewed 400 convicted offenders to inquire about their decision making process when choosing a target and carrying out the attack.  Results of the study show that 83% of those surveyed took time and steps to determine whether a potential target has alarms or has a security system installed.

The importance of having security and alarm systems around the house cannot be denied but it seems majority of Americans see these burglary prevention techniques a little too lightly.  Based on FBI statistics, only 17% of homes in the United States are equipped with a security system.

So before you become part of the statistics and be one of the more than 2 million burglary victims yearly, do yourself and your loved ones a favor — secure your home and never let intruders and criminals brutally take away your possessions, your sacred space and your peace of mind.


Move to A Safer Haven

If the ordeal of having your private world violated becomes too tormenting and the hassle of never letting your guard down is taking everything out of you, maybe it’s time to look for a new place.  True, you would have to make adjustments here and there but there is no way that you are compromising your safety.

One of the most secured places to live is a condominium.  Unlike a regular gated and guarded subdivision, a condo takes pride in its many layers of security — from the main entrance, through the gate of a community, up to the lobby of the condo building, a security guard is on duty 24/7.  They also make rounds regularly to assure tenants that they have nothing to worry about.

As times get more and more dangerous, real estate companies have made it a requirement to install security cameras and alarms all over the place.  There are surveillance cameras and alarms in every common area, along streets and pathways, above hallways, and practically everywhere.

A good condo unit should be able to guarantee every owner or buyer a good night sleep, something that is very hard to get these days.  Having a condominium unit should be an assurance that you are living in a crime-free community.

So if you are planning on getting one for yourself, make sure that you put on top of your requirements a good security system when you look for condominiums for sale.   And as safety precaution, take simple yet necessary steps to protect your unit.  As soon as you move in, check all door and window locks.  If possible, install an extra lock or a deadbolt on your door.  If you decide to go for keyless entry, choose a reliable brand.  If you have balconies, make sure entrance is securely locked.  You may also add alarms and even covert spy cameras for monitoring.

These are just some of the few and easy steps you can take to make sure you won’t have to go through hell and back by being a victim of burglary.