You see it on the news occasionally: crime rates, especially violent crime, keep dropping year over year. That's the good news. Unfortunately, property crime may have found a floor, and with the current economy, some are expecting a rise in theft, especially home break-ins, according to census.gov.*
But what about the victims of property crime? Even if the numbers are dropping, it still happens across the country and on a fairly regular basis. Out of each 100,000 people, 1,000 or so will experience a break-in and theft in their home in a given year. What are the costs, and how can we allay them?
First, we have to look at how much a robbery is going to cost you in terms of your wallet. Thieves look for several things when they break into a home, all for different reasons:
• Home electronics such as televisions, game consoles, computers, and MP3 players. These can be resold in other states by "falling out of a truck."
• Personal documents such as Social Security cards, passports, and birth certificates. These can be used for financial fraud later on, or resold to establish a fake identity.
• Personal effects such as jewelry. Jewelry is rarely sold as-is: more often it's melted down into the raw materials and sold that way.
• Firearms. Moving guns on the black market can be risky in terms of jail time, but those looking for a gun and not looking for any questions (or background checks) are willing to pay a pretty penny.
• And, of course, any cash or credit cards you may happen to have lying around the house.
Simple property losses, that is, the value of the items that have been stolen, can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It all depends on what's stolen and whether or not it can be replaced.
But the costs don't stop there. It's likely your home will be damaged when broken into. Again, this varies widely. The thief may pick the lock on your back door, causing no damage, or he could throw a rock through your back window.
Then there's the damage the thief may do to the house. Thieves have been known to bash in walls, rip down paneling, smash furniture, and rip out pipes to check for hidden stashes of cash or jewelry. If they know they've got the time and nobody will hear them, why not? They don't care if your house floods.
Unfortunately, even after the thief leaves, your financial troubles are far from over. If your homeowner's insurance will cover the cost of the repairs and at least some of the items lost, you may be facing a premium increase when your policy is up. Again, this varies on the severity of the incident and what's lost, but you may be seeing as high as a 10% increase.
And really, the problems are just starting.
Paperwork and Time Lost
As many homeowners learn the hard way, a break-in involves far more paperwork than you thought possible. You'll have to fill out police reports and verify the accuracy of the officer's statements. You'll need to describe each item stolen in as much detail as possible. You'll need to fill out insurance forms to collect on your homeowner's insurance. If firearms are stolen, that will just add to the paperwork, since police will need even more information.
The worst part is that you'll go through all of this knowing that recovery is unlikely. If a thief has stolen your items and left no obvious clues, he's unlikely to be caught.
Then you'll need to find a general contractor -- and possibly other contractors -- to repair any damage to your home. And, of course, you'll need to work with your insurance company to make sure that their work is covered. You might even find yourself in court with your insurance company depending on troubles with your coverage.
And even then, you're still not done. You'll need to cancel any credit cards in your home, even if they haven't been stolen, since the thief may copy the information down for credit card fraud later on. If personal documents were stolen, you'll need to place monitors on your credit report to prevent credit cards and mortgages being taken out in your name. And if fraud does get past these precautions, you'll be the one responsible for cleaning it up: a thief doesn't care if he's destroying your credit rating. This process can last literally years; homeowners may turn around three years later and discover a bunch of credit cards in their name they've never opened once debt collectors start sending nasty letters to their house.
Even after all this is settled, you'll still find the most troubling loss of all is...
Loss of Peace of Mind
The worst part of it all is that the thief has no respect for your personal property. For example, antique heirloom jewelry will be melted down and sold in bulk without a second thought. The risk of being caught with easily identifiable pieces is simply too great for a thief, as it can show culpability for a crime.
Similarly, family photos stored on a computer will be summarily erased. Anything you've stored digitally will be destroyed. Thieves don't care about your feelings: they just want to sell your things for profit.
Perhaps the worst of all is the fact that you no longer feel entirely safe in your own home. Worry and stress after a break-in are extremely common among victimized homeowners. They're concerned another break-in will occur, or that the consequences of the break-in they've just suffered will somehow damage them financially or professionally. This feeling can linger for years with some, and is sometimes strong enough that it forces the homeowner to move simply for peace of mind.
This is why we recommend a monitored home security system for homeowners. It helps protect your peace of mind and it stops many of these problems right in their tracks. It may even help reduce your homeowners insurance, depending on your risk and your policy.
If you are interested in finding out more about today's monitored home security systems
, call and speak with a professional at Protect Your Home. Protect Your Home has more than 150 installation centers throughout the nation. In many cases, next-day installation can be scheduled so that you don't have to wait long to have the peace of mind that comes with 24/7 monitored home security.