What to do if you’ve been burgled (plus things to check RIGHT NOW)

The first thing the police officer said upon stepping into our house was: “I think I’ve been here before. A couple of years ago. How long have you lived here?”

We don’t really know anything about the previous tenants, but I guess we now know they got hit by burglars, too. And our neighbour in the back, who’s lived here for about 10 years, reckons this place has been robbed twice during her tenure

That’s not really any comfort, but you know what is? Being prepared

Just for reference, if you ever get robbed:

  • Don’t touch anything
  • Call the police and report it
  • Call your insurer, and fill them in
  • Pull out all your documentation, and begin the tedious process of paperwork

Expect to fill out a list of missing items for the police, including identifying numbers and details, which is really to no avail because the odds of your stuff being recovered are minuscule. Expect them to come and dust for prints, and to take your fingerprints, too, as part of the process of elimination. Expect a wait at the insurance office, and to have to fill out multiple forms, including an exhaustive list of missing items, complete with model and serial numbers, receipts, and/or photos and details of date and time of purchase.

Be sure to act quickly to deal with any security issues. T had to contact Microsoft to remove my Visa details, which were linked to his Xbox Live account. (He does get to keep the games he downloaded to that account, luckily.) I panicked when I logged into Dropbox on my work computer and found my folder empty. I guess whoever has my laptop wiped it, thus clearing my Dropbox at the same time. I restored my files and made sure to delink that computer from my Dropbox account.

We’ve had our claim processed, and expect to get a cheque next week. We had lower-tier insurance that doesn’t account for initial purchase value, but value with depreciation deducted, which was a decision made to keep premiums down. And I’m okay with that. I’m actually not sure that we’ll replace our instruments any time soon – there’s no major urgency in my view, especially as getting a good deal is paramount, and I hardly do mine any justice.

The good thing about electronics is they depreciate so fast that we don’t really lose out – in fact we’ll be getting better items, probably, for our money. The one thing that’s bugging me is that I really want a laptop with full numeric keypad on the right. It’s not a must-have .. but it’s something I’d really like to have and never have. Thing is, all the laptops out there with keypads either have huge, weird, awkward spaces between the keys, or the keys are super high off the board, and ergonomics aside, I just know all sorts of debris will get in under there and annoy the hell out of me.

As to what to do afterwards, when you’ve replaced your gear (and you might want to do these things too if you haven’t already, with your current belongings), I recommend:

  • Scanning all your receipts so you have a digital copy
  • Taking pictures of all your valuables
  • Record items, model and serial numbers, descriptions and value in a file (you could try downloading a form like this one). If in New Zealand, you could use this site to store those details safely and freely online.
  • Back up receipts, photos and info to the cloud (I have a Dropbox folder for insurance stuff)

For the diligent, if you have been robbed, it may be worth listing your items on StoleMe (though it costs a fee for every item, which is why I didn’t. I’m also sceptical about how useful that site can actually be, especially for common goods) or keeping an eye on TradeMe in case someone tries to offload your stuff through an auction.

Any other suggestions?

8 thoughts on “What to do if you’ve been burgled (plus things to check RIGHT NOW)

  • Reply queenlbee August 2, 2012 at 01:31

    I’m sorry to hear this happened to you, but I am blown away by the helpfulness of your post. Thanks!

  • Reply Kellen August 2, 2012 at 02:07

    Not really on topic – put for the numeric keypad, are you strongly opposed to just buying an external keypad that you plug in with a USB? That’s what we use at clients for work, and I actually like it more than the keypad that is part of my regular keyboard in my office, because I can position it exactly where it is comfortable for my hand to reach it. Also, that way you are not narrowing down your laptop choices based on that one odd feature.

  • Reply Money After Graduation August 2, 2012 at 02:13

    These are good tips. I really need to prepare for something like this because I am definitely not ready right now = If my things were stolen I would be SCREWED.

  • Reply Caitlin August 2, 2012 at 04:38

    Thanks for the detailed list on how to handle the situation. I am so sorry that you have to go through such a complex and time consuming process though! I hope they catch the crooks!

  • Reply lkrant August 2, 2012 at 08:35

    Theft and disasters have one thing i common, you do not expect to happen to you! A little preparation will make the disaster a little better. Was it bad enough to consider moving because of the history?

  • Reply Sense August 2, 2012 at 12:34

    Oooh great tips! I need to do the serial numbers one.

    Here’s to you never having to deal with this again!

  • Reply Budget & the Beach August 2, 2012 at 14:05

    Oh wow!! So sorry that happened. We had a string of burglaries in out areas just recently. It can happen to anyone. Good reminder to know what you have so it can be replaced.

  • Reply Link love (Powered by onion dip and cold winds) | Musings of an Abstract Aucklander August 11, 2012 at 23:09

    […] And thanks to My Personal Finance Journey for hosting the latest Carnival of Personal Finance, including my tips on what to do if you’ve been burgled, plus how to be prepared […]

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