I got the call from my husband early on a Friday morning. “We’ve been robbed.” It had happened in the early hours of the morning while he and the kids were sleeping (I was spending the night in Buffalo). He had fallen asleep watching football and woke up and went to bed around 3am. When he came downstairs at 6am, he started noticing things were missing, like his laptop which had been on the kitchen table. My son couldn’t find his Zune in the family room. It quickly became apparent that more items were missing.
It turns out we weren’t the only ones robbed. Four other houses on our street were hit but I have a feeling they made out best at our house. Besides the Xbox 360, Wii, 60 video games, camera, and camcorder, they took a few thousand dollars worth of tools my husband had in the garage. They must have made multiple trips to carry so many items out. We’re still discovering items that were taken since it’s hard to figure out what’s missing until you go to use it and it’s not there. (The police actually took pictures of the empty spots where things used to be.)
We did make it easier on the burglars. We had a habit of forgetting to lock the doors, but we’d lived in our nice suburban house for 21 years and there had never been a problem so I was never worried about security. We have no pets or security system to sound an alarm. We had so many items for the thieves to pick from. They left all the flat screen TVs, probably because they’re too bulky to carry. Everyone slept soundly with their doors closed so no one heard a thing.
Things I would have done differently in retrospect:
- Lock the doors more carefully (this is the most obvious).
- Install a motion detector light in the backyard, which is where they entered the house. We’re planning on doing that anyway.
- Make sure I have full replacement value on your homeowner’s insurance. We already do, but we have a $1000 deductible which will eat into the amount we’ll get from the insurance company. I’m fine with that since we’ve paid lower premiums over the years.
- Keep receipts longer. The insurance company will give us higher reimbursement for items we can prove were purchased in the last year. In some cases I was able to go to online retailer’s websites to print off copies of those receipts. I was amazed to find that Amazon had my purchase history back to 2002! I also plan on scanning receipts to make it easier to store them. I’ve noticed a lot of receipts that are printed on thermal paper fade severely after even a short time so it’s good to have an electronic version.
- Keep more product boxes. I’ve always gotten on my husband’s about saving all the retail boxes for items we buy, but they came in handy for the laptop he bought 6 months ago since it had the serial number, as did the box for the Xbox 360. The police compare the serial numbers to a list they get from the pawnshops each week. We could also store the serial numbers electronically so we could get rid of some of those boxes.
- Do more frequent backups and move backups offsite. I backed up my laptop before we went on our long trip and I’d been bugging my husband to do the same. He never got around to it. His laptop held lots of pictures of home projects he had worked on over the last few months which he lost. If we were ever to have a fire then the backups would also be destroyed unless we store copies elsewhere.
- Take pictures of our possessions occasionally just to keep track of what we have. If we were to ever have a fire or another burglary, it would make it a lot easier to identify all the missing items. I know I’ve heard this suggestion before but never made it a priority. You can bet we’ll be doing this.
Everything that was stolen was replaceable. We’re just grateful that no one got hurt. I’m hoping I can help one person out there to avoid what we are going through. It was definitely an expensive lesson for us.