What to Do After You've Been Robbed

It's hard to relax, knowing criminals have been in your home.
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A robbery or burglary is a violation that leaves you feeling victimized and just plain awful. You may have trouble sleeping or find yourself jumping at every noise, and just generally feeling anxious or angry. That's a normal part of the healing process, but it can take a toll on your well-being. Here are some ways to reclaim your peace of mind.


Recovering and Repairing Your Property

Always report a break-in.

You arrive home and discover that your house has been burglarized. Or worse, you were home when the break-in occurred. The first thing you should do is call 911. That may sound like common sense, but many robberies aren't reported because victims think it's pointless to contact the authorities. But there is a point: You may be able to recover your stolen property and save someone else the misery you've endured. Plus, you won't be able to file an insurance claim without a police report. More on that later.

If you can tell from the outside that your home has been burglarized, absolutely do not go in until the police arrive. There's a chance a burglar is still on the premises. Wait in your car and lock the doors, or wait at a neighbor's house. If you're certain the thieves are gone (perhaps you saw them flee) and you're waiting inside your home for the police to arrive, don't touch anything. Investigators may want to take photos or fingerprints. Once the police leave, you can start putting things back in order.


If you want to pursue an insurance claim, you'll need to file a police report within 24 hours of discovering the crime. Provide your insurance agent with a list of everything that was stolen and how much these items are worth. This practical step will also help you begin to process and confront what has happened. If a door or window was broken during the burglary, you should board it up until a repairman can fix it properly.

Addressing the Emotional Impact

Restoring order to your home tends to be an easier task than restoring your sense of security and emotional well-being. You've become a statistic, and that can be very unsettling. The first step is to confront the fact that it happened and acknowledge that you feel vulnerable and scared. Talking to friends and family members is important, especially during the immediate aftermath of the crime.

Realize that everyone has their own recovery time. You can't rush the process -- you have to let it take its own course. There are, however, steps you can take. Being proactive about the future is helpful in recovering from an emotional trauma. Take self-defense classes, have an alarm system installed, get a shatter-proof screen door or change the locks throughout your home. All of these measures help you feel less vulnerable. If you find that you aren't improving and your daily life is perpetually affected, consider talking to a counselor or therapist.


Lots More Information

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  • Carter, Mia. "How to Handle Emotional Trauma from a Burglary." Suite101.com, December 9, 2008.http://psychology.suite101.com/article.cfm/how_to_handle_emotional_trauma_from_a_burglary
  • Carter, Mia. "What to Do After a Burglary into Your House." Suite101.com, December 7, 2008.http://homemanagement.suite101.com/article.cfm/what_to_do_after_a_house_break
  • "Coping with Trauma." Villanova.edu, 2010. http://www.villanova.edu/studentlife/counselingcenter/infosheets/psych_topics.htm?page=trauma.htm
  • "I've been robbed! What to do in case of burglary." Expatica.com, April 14, 2006. http://www.expatica.com/fr/essentials_moving_to/essentials/ive-been-robbed-what-to-do-in-case-of-burglary-29308_10444.html
  • "Robbery." Ncvc.org, 2010. http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32367
  • "What to do if you become a crime victim." Crimepreventiontips.com, 2010. http://www.crimepreventiontips.org/what-to-do-if-you-become-a-crime-victim/index.html