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What to Do If Your Home Is Broken Into

Thursday, 13 August 2020

When someone breaks into your home, your privacy has been violated which can leave you feeling traumatized and overwhelmed. We recognize it’s not always easy to keep your mind focussed on the right way to do things in the moment. Do your best to stay calm after you discover a home burglary and follow these steps for what to do if your home is broken into. BIG will be there every step of the way to help you through the process of a burglary claim on your home insurance.

1.Don’t Touch Anything & Get to a Safe Place Immediately!

As you approach your home and discover things are not right, your first reaction might be to panic, run in and check areas where you store valuable possession for fear they have been stolen. It’s a natural instinct, but it’s unwise for a couple reasons:

  1. The burglar may still be in your home, which could cause greater threat to you and your family. Your life is far more valuable than items that might be stolen, so stay quiet and calm so that the intruder is not aware of your presence. Get to a safe location where you are protected.
  2. Your house is now a crime scene, so you don’t want to tamper with any evidence the police may find. If it appears the intruder tampered with your safe or stole valuable items, it’s best to write it down and leave it be until the police can investigate for fingerprints and other clues left behind.

If you are worried about not knowing which items are missing in your home when you call the police – it’s not even necessary to determine if items have been stolen before you notify the police of a break-in. Once you have left the site of the burglary, call the police from a safe location like your car or a neighbour’s home.

2.Call the Police & File a Police Report

Call the police as soon as you are safe to do so. If you have a home security system with alarm monitoring, the police should already be on their way, but it’s still smart to call 911 to give them as much information as possible to respond appropriately. Dispatch will guide you through the process and ask questions about your address, your name, and any information about the intruder(s). Do your best to document any details that you remember.

It’s recommended to file a police report within 24 hours of the burglary. Ask the investigating officer where you can get the police report. Obtain the case number and write down all names and badge numbers of the police officers on scene. Once the police begin the investigation, they may ask for home security camera footage if you have it. If you think of more items that are missing later on, make sure you notify them.

3.Make a list of Stolen Items & Details

Once the police arrive, you can start to look around and assess the damage and possible stolen items from the burglary. At BIG, we recommend creating a home inventory of your personal property to avoid the headache of trying to remember each item and its value. This will also make the process of your insurance claim easier because you already have a list of items to provide your insurance carrier. If you don’t have a home inventory, don’t worry! Start by looking for items such as: cash, passports, wallets, jewelry, firearms and electronics, which are commonly stolen items in a burglary. Also check your medicine cabinet for any missing prescription drugs. It’s common for burglars to steal drugs that can fetch them a high price on the street. 

It’s an incredibly stressful situation, but it’s crucial to write as many details down while the event is still fresh in your memory. Take photos of the crime scene for your insurance company to assess any damage. Write down any descriptive information about the intruder if you saw them – their age, appearance, clothing, etc. During the investigation, it may also be wise to stay with a relative or friend to avoid tampering with evidence.

4.Call Your Insurance Broker

It is best to call your home, condo, or tenants insurance provider within 24 hours of the break-in. If you need to file a claim with BIG, our claims line is available 24/7 at 1-866-670-0905. Your insurance company will require a police report for a claim to be filed. They will likely send a claims adjuster to investigate your claim. Staying at a friend’s place or relative’s home until the claims adjuster investigates will help to avoid tampering with the evidence. Find out what documents your insurer requires such as: a list of stolen items and value, receipts, product manuals or warranties. Make copies of these receipts and other documents so that you maintain your own records.

5.Repair Damage

After the investigation is complete and the claims adjuster has investigated your claim, it’s time to start repairing things so that life can get back to normal after the burglary.

  • Clean up broken glass and mess.
  • Board up broken windows or doors with plywood until a repairman can replace them.
  • Contact your bank to advice of stolen credit cards, debit cards or cheques.
  • Report stolen passports to Service Canada at 1-800-567-6868.
  • Contact credit-reporting agencies asking for a security alert to prevent burglars from taking out a loan in your name.
  • Speak to your provincial service centre to report stolen ID cards (health card, license, etc.)
  • Reset online passwords to prevent hacking and identity theft if your computer was stolen.

Keep records of any expenses related to repairs due to the burglary because you may be entitled to reimbursement from your home insurance policy.

6.Update Security in Your Home to Prevent Further Break-Ins

After a burglary, the best thing you can do for your own peace of mind is to improve your home security. This comes in many forms, but the best deterrents are a home security system and alarm monitoring, which can also make you eligible for a discount on your home insurance.  

There are many other ways you can help mitigate the occurrence of a break-in:

  • Upgrade door and window locks
  • Purchase motion-sensor lights outside your doors
  • Install a dummy security camera (or a real one, for that matter!)
  • Put your interior and exterior lights on timers to simulate you are home while away
  • A “beware of dog” sign might also deter intruders
  • Avoid posting photos of your home, vacation or valuables on social media. A study in the UK shows that 78% of ex-burglars used social media to target properties.


If you have recently been a victim of burglary, we can only imagine how vulnerable you must feel. Our BIG team is here to help you through the claims process and help you recuperate losses for damage to your home and stolen items. If you aren’t sure about the coverage you have on your house, condo or tenants policy, contact your broker today to find out does home insurance cover theft. It’s never ideal to need to make a claim, but our trusted brokers can make sure your home and your personal property are protected and help you each step of the way.


By: Amy Legault