About a year ago my home was burglarized, and to this day I still haven't regained my sense of security. They stole a laptop, a cell phone, a number of precious possessions that can never be replaced, and many other items that they were able to grab and easily stow. I pray that none of you ever have this same experience, but in the event that you do, here are a few tips on how to recover after a burglary.
Have a security assessment done by professionals. I've had good luck with ADT. Take whatever precautionary measures they recommend to either fortify your home or to upgrade the security measures that you already have in place.
Get your neighbors involved with you in a neighborhood watch. Get to know them and let them get to know you. Be familiar with who should, and should not, be going out of the residences around you and phone the police when you're aware of any suspicious activity.
Take care to keep the delivery of any ultra-valuable items, such as flat-screen TVs, from prying eyes by keeping the delivery low key and the view of the valuables obstructed as much as possible. Instead of disposing of the item packing in your own trash bin, take it to a nearby dump or public disposal area.
I know that this is a controversial position, but we are living in dangerous times where thieves don't value your life any more than they do that of a bug. Get licensed with your local law enforcement authorities to carry a firearm. Purchase one and learn how to use it. Make sure that it is stored securely in your home when not in use, especially if there are children living with you.
Be aware of suspicious phone calls, strangers loitering near your home, and unfamiliar vehicles parked or circling in the area. On the day of my burglary I noted a strange vehicle parked across from my house and had an uneasy feeling about it, but I ignored the feeling, and within the 20 to 30 minutes that it took to run my errand and get back the perpetrator had time to break in and clean me out.
Talk about it
The feeling of violation and loss of security after your home is invaded in this way is something that I can't describe to you in words. Different people process it in different ways, but in all cases it helps to talk about it with someone, be it friends, family, or professionals.
Get a dog
I'm not a dog person, but I can see how a dog - a really big one - could have been an effective deterrent to someone trying to enter my home with evil intent. Have the dog professionally trained on the appropriate way to respond to intruders.
File your insurance
Your insurance company will reimburse a percentage of the value of your stolen items and also is an excellent source of information about security precautions to put in place for the future.
Even though I'm still struggling with the aftermath of my own burglary, I can tell you that with the passing of time that things do indeed get better.
There is no 100% foolproof method to protect yourself from robbers and thieves, but a little bit of proactivity will increase your odds of not having to fall victim to this sort of crime again.
CrimePrevention.gov: Helping You to Recover
YourLocalSecurity.com: 5 Ways to Cope with the Emotional Aftermath of a Burglary
*Photo: West Midlands Police via Flickr
[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 07/01/2014 (no longer published there).]