You’d probably scream. Whether it be in shock or perhaps you’d scream the name of someone you think is home. Your first instinct would be to go inside and see if anything is missing, right? Or how about calling your loved one, children or relatives?

Did you know that doing any of those things is extremely dangerous?

1. The first thing you need to do before anything else is call 911. Why is this so important? YOU DON’T KNOW IF THE THIEF IS STILL THERE. One of the most dangerous things you can do is go inside your house and start walking around. If someone was bad enough to break into your house, would they think twice about hurting you if you get in their way? The safest thing to do is to go across the street and call 911. This helps us in a few ways…

1. It keeps you a safe distance away from any thief that may be inside or nearby
2. It allows you to see if someone is moving around inside or if someone runs away

2. Don’t touch or move anything
Sometimes you may know right away if your house was broken into. The front door may be forced open or they may be broken glass on the floor. What if the thieves got in through the basement or the back door? You probably wouldn’t notice that right away. If you’re already inside and discover your house was broken into, don’t touch or move anything. The first thing you’ll want to do is to find out what’s missing. You’ll begin touching stuff and moving things around. Doing this ruins any fingerprints the thief may have left behind. The Police won’t be able to collect any useful evidence if your fingerprints are all over everything. Don’t touch or move anything especially doorknobs, handles and windows.

3. If you have an alarm, call the alarm company (from a safe place)
You should call the alarm company to find out a few things
1. Was the alarm set off?
2. Where was it set off?
3. What time was it set off?
4. Were the Police notified to respond?
5. Was the alarm disabled by the thief?

The answers to these questions are very important to know for future safety. They’re also important for the Police when they’re taking their reports and conducting investigations.

4. Look for cameras
Walk around and look for surveillance cameras on houses near yours. You should tell your neighbors what happened and ask if you could look at the video footage. Again, ask if YOU could look at the footage. You may be thinking: “Aren’t the Police supposed to look at the video?” While the answer to that may be yes, it doesn’t mean they’re going to. If you do happen to see something useful on the footage, find out how to put it on a CD or DVD. You’ll need something portable to give to the Police. Don’t expect them to show up and watch the footage at your neighbors house.

5. Figure out what’s missing
You’ll need to think of everything that was stolen from your house. This information is needed for the Police report as well as the insurance company. It’s also important to know just in case anything can be tracked like laptops, iPhones, iPads, etc. You’ll need to cancel any credit cards that may have been stolen.

6. Check entrances and exits after the Police arrive (windows, roof, doors, balcony)
This may seem useless if one of your doors was forced open. You don’t know if the thief came in and left through the same door. What if they left through a different door or window that you wouldn’t notice? Again, this is important information for the Police to put on their report. It’s also important because you’ll need to fix any other broken doors or windows in your house.

7. Look for items left behind
Thieves usually break into houses to steal stuff. Why would they leave something behind? Something like this may be hard to spot because you’ll be focused on what’s missing. Thieves will sometimes leave things behind like gloves, socks or even blood. These clues can be very helpful for the Police to collect as evidence.

8. Change your locks
This may not sound like it makes sense if your house was broken into. What if you had a spare key inside your house? And what if the thief took it? If the thief was bad enough to break in, he’s bad enough to come back some other day and use a key. Have your locks changed to prevent any return visits.

Your house shouldn’t get broken into in the first place if you follow the steps in my upcoming book. We want to make sure we stay safe and help catch the thief if it does happen.