Posted on a South Burlington Front Porch Forum yesterday…
As many of you know by now, our house was broken into and burglarized during the day on Friday. Most of our technology/electronics/computers were stolen, along with many personal affects, most of our jewelry/ watches , and, any cash/coins that were hanging around– including what was in our kids’ piggy banks! At some point the burglars were interrupted and fled, as evidenced by the fact that our 2 televisions were disconnected, one ripped from its wall bracket, but left behind! Not a pretty scene to come home to right before the school bus arrives.
Now that things have settled a bit, we thought that the most helpful thing for us to do for our community would be to share what we’ve learned from this experience to help others better protect themselves. Heavens knows, we got A LOT of advice online from others’ misfortunes, so it only seems fitting to pay it forward !
First off, the burglars DID NOT get in through an open or unlocked window or door. These burglars BROKE OUR LOCKED WINDOW WITH A CROWBAR!!! We say this not to frighten you, but to highlight that despite being ” vigilant” about locking up our house, AND having had a neighbor call the police to report suspicious people and activity earlier that morning, we still got robbed !!! So, taking every precaution to secure your house and report suspicious people is paramount, but not fool proof . What we really want to impart to you is to PLEASE, PLEASE TAKE STEPS TO PROTECT THE THINGS THAT ARE DEAREST AND MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU. YOU WILL BE HAPPY YOU DID! Having your television or laptop stolen is awful, but losing your mom’s special necklace, or all of your family photos, or having your identity stolen and your credit ruined are MUCH WORSE and QUITE PREVENTABLE .
Here are a few things we are happy that we did, and others that we learned the hard way. We hope these are helpful to you :
1) Password protect all of your computers. Doing so will make it more difficult for the next person on your computer to access your frequently used websites, vital bank or personal information stored on it.
2) If you have any mac iproducts , activate the ” find my iPhone/ iPad/iMac feature ON EACH ONE. This may not lead you to your thief, but it WILL allow you to lock your items remotely or erase them remotely to protect their contents or things associated with your identity .
3) BACK UP YOUR TREASURED PHOTOS , VIDEOS and IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS on disks/drive/ time machine/ or memory sticks of some sort. I cannot stress enough how devastated we would be if we did not have backups of all of our photos of our kids and they had disappeared out the door with our laptop! Really, DO THIS ONE!
4) photograph and/or keep serial numbers of your valuables and electronics. It makes it easier to ID them and report them to your insurance company, police and pawn shops. Open up and photograph the contents of drawers that hold valuable stuff (jewelry, photo equipment, video recorders, passports etc). It will help you see what might have gone missing.
5) REMEMBER–one person’s treasure may be another person’s trash. What may be a treasure to you (old concert tickets , family heirlooms, baby things) is trash to a thief if it has no resale value. So BE SELECTIVE ABOUT WHERE YOU KEEP TREASURED ITEMS THAT YOU DON’T USE ON A REGULAR BASIS. I’m never going to lock up the jewelry that I wear every day. However, I did keep other priceless mementos in my jewelry box, which means that when the thieves turned my jewelry box upside down and emptied it contents into a bag, I lost some treasured sentimental things that surely ended up in their trash because they had no monetary value. STORE YOUR IRREPLACEABLE SENTIMENTAL ITEMS IN A SAFE DEPOSIT BOX , or hide them somewhere crafty –not in the master bedroom or office!
6) if you store lots of valuable personal information on a laptop, you may want to consider signing up for an identity protection plan ( LifeLock, ID Shield etc) that would assist you and monitor any suspicious activity if your wallet, phone or computer were stolen or hacked.
The fact is that we are not perfect, nor are our kids. And none of us is always going to close every curtain in the house, or stash the laptop out of view when we dash out the door, or even remember to close an open window on a stiflingly hot day . Things happen. Hey, fires happen. And what we’ve learned from being burglarized is that the best defense against a break-in (or a fire) is to have ALREADY SAFEGUARDED YOUR VALUED STUFF & IDENTITY, so that if it does happen, it stings a little less 🙂