It’s true. Only 13 percent of burglaries are ever solved, and only 15 percent of stolen property is ever recovered. When you consider that a burglary occurs every 15 seconds in the U.S., it’s not difficult to see why law enforcement can scarcely keep up with the demand, but that doesn’t mean you have to become a statistic. There are ways in which you can maximize your odds of recovering your treasured goods in the event of a robbery, but it’s going to require a bit of planning. And sure, it may be no fun to plan for a burglary, but you’re only tempting fate if you fail to take preemptive action.
Keep a Detailed Inventory
First and foremost, your valuables should all be meticulously catalogued. Keep a log of names and serial numbers, along with photographs and even receipts if possible. The more details you have, the better. In the event of a burglary, you want your stolen goods to be easily identifiable, thereby ensuring the maximum chance of recovery. Certain items can even be registered for additional protection. For instance, if you keep bicycles in the garage, register them with the National Bike Registry.
File a Police Report Immediately
When a burglary occurs, time is most definitely of the essence. The longer you hesitate, the less likely your property will be recovered. The first week is especially critical. So get in touch with police right away, and provide them with all pertinent information. If the authorities fail to follow up with you, then take the initiative yourself (more on that later).
Set Up Surveillance
Anonymity is a burglar’s secret weapon. These crooks go to great lengths to remain undetected, because once their faces are seen, the jig is up. The mere presence of security cameras can act as a powerful burglary deterrent, but even if the bad guys do infiltrate your perimeter, you can help bring them to justice by recording the footage to an external DVR. There are a wealth of affordable security camera kits available, and if you can afford it, more is always better. Place at least one camera outside, and install cameras throughout the home in areas where valuables are kept.
Recently we commented on a story in Arizona that involved a burglar, a stolen laptop and a GPS device. Basically, the thief made off with the laptop and other valuables, completely unaware of the discreet GPS device concealed inside the laptop case. Police located the thief at his home a few hours later, where they promptly arrested him. Small GPS devices are revolutionizing home security by creating a trail of digital breadcrumbs right to the perpetrator’s front door. Certain computers, phones and tablets can even be optimized with GPS software.
A few days after the burglary occurs, start perusing your local pawn shops in search of your stolen property. You may have to visit a few neighboring cities. If you find something that belongs to you, quietly exit the shop and contact the police. Check the local Craigslist classifieds as well, and visit websites like Stolen911, which document recently stolen property.
In cases like these, you have to be persistent. Sadly, police deal with burglary situations every day, and it just doesn’t have the same emotional effect on them that is has it on you. For them, it’s just another day on the job, so don’t expect the police to report to you with frequent updates. Be proactive, and make sure to keep up with the local news. If a major burglary ring is suddenly foiled in your neighborhood, you may be able to find out if your situation is related, and if your valuables have been recovered.