my home was broken into! don’t let yours be next


A few months ago I had the unfortunate luck of being the victim of a break-in, and it was heartbreaking. After taking care of the police and renter’s insurance report (aside – renter’s insurance is cheap, and well worth it!), I started to investigate how I could minimize the chances of this happening to me again, or at the very least, make it more difficult for someone to help themselves to my things. I know many of us will be traveling this upcoming season, so we should safeguard our homes while we’re away. The following is what I learned thieves look for:

• Are you home? It might seem obvious, but I didn’t consider making it look like I was home, even when I was gone for a very short time. Buy timers! Timers are inexpensive and can be found at your local hardware or drug stores. Put them on your radio, lights, and tv, and set them to go off once during the day and evening.

• Evidence of new valuables. If you get a fancy new TV or electronics, don’t leave the packaging visible in your garbage. Break down the box and put inside a dumpster away from home. Would-be thieves watch for these things in your alleys and garbage.

• Obvious hiding places. Under mattresses, jewelry boxes, and desks are all easy targets. The officer who investigated my case said thieves hardly ever look in books, so consider putting smaller valuables in hollowed-out books like these. Hide larger valuables, like laptops, in your food pantry or kitchen.

• Is anyone watching? Get to know your neighbors and let them know you will be gone. It’s important for communities to recognize strangers, and be curious if they see someone who is unfamiliar hanging around your home.

Lastly, keep a running list of valuables – include serial/model numbers, value, or any other specific information about them – and e-mail it to yourself. This will help lessen your legwork if you ever do have to report missing items or those damaged from fires or storms.

Anyone else have recommendations on how to keep our homes safe and secure this holiday season –Rebecca F.

From our partners

Yikes! That is so, so scary! Thanks for all the tips, and ditto on the renter’s insurance. I finally got it a couple of years ago, and it gives fantastic peace of mind. It also covers personal property in case of a car break-in or bike theft was well!


I’m so sorry, it happened to me about 20 years ago. For the first six months afterward I felt fear, but then I made a conscious decision to get over it, and to deny a bunch of thieves control over the way I wanted to live.


you know, francesca, i wasn’t (and am not) scared after it happened, just more pissed off that people are such jerks. i vowed not to be shaken by strangers! i’m thankful that i wasn’t home, and that they didn’t trash my house, so i try to take it as a valuable lesson. and, i’m testing myself to see how long i can go without a tv. it’s hard, bu it’s been almost 3 months. :)

Sarah L.

Our neighbors manage to break all the rules you provided with alarming regularity. Plus, when they go on vaca, they never stop the mail or paper delivery and don’t think to ask anyone to bring it in. We do it anyway, just so there’s not a big “Welcome thieves” mat right next door to us.

When we go out of town, we double check all the window locks and make sure the motion-sensor outdoor lights are on in addition to setting timers.