Expert Roundup: What To Do After A Burglary

Do you know what to do when you discover your house has been burglarized? Hint: Don’t take matters into your own hands; call police.

Every month is Crime Prevention Month for us, but the nation celebrates it in October. So we’ve assembled a “roundup” of law enforcement and security experts to chew over the best ways to prevent and handle burglaries, a homeowner’s worst nightmare when they come home from work or from vacation. Here’s how our experts answered:

What’s the first thing a homeowner should do after discovering a burglary?

Ed O’Carroll:

Captain in the Fairfax County Police Department and former patrolman and crime prevention officer.
“Leave the home as soon as you realize you’ve been burglarized. Don’t search the home, because the burglar may still be inside or nearby. Go to a neighbor’s and contact the police. Law enforcement will look for the suspect. We have bloodhounds, and we’ve been successful in putting the dog at an exist or entry point to figure out where the guy has run. Resist the temptation to clean up glass and move things back where they were, because you’re disturbing the best evidence that law enforcement can collect.”

James R. Holmes:

Forty-year police veteran and spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department.
“If you suspect you’ve been burglarized, do not enter the home. Call your local police right away.”

Jeanne MacKenzie:

Veteran detective and public information officer for the Tulsa Police Department.
“Call the police and don’t clean up. There could be evidence — fingerprints, footprint treads on a door a burglar has kicked in. So, don’t touch anything. Wait for the police to get there and collect the evidence correctly.”

Jeffrey Zwirn:

Security and protection consultant and author of “The Alarm Science Manual.”
“Homeowners suspecting burglary must leave the house immediately and call 911. It’s counter-intuitive, because most people want to see why the house is a mess, what’s going on. So people instinctively go deeper into the house and become a victim themselves. Some people even chase burglars, then later wonder, ‘What was I thinking.’”

Have you ever been burglarized? What did you do, and what do you wish you had done? We’d love to hear your story.

Don’t miss the answer to our next roundup question: Whats the best way to decrease holiday burglaries? And check how our roundup answered our last question: “How do homeowners unknowingly invite break-ins?


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