What Should You Do if Your Home is Burglarized?

By: Cheryn Stone Email
By: Cheryn Stone Email

If someone breaks into your home, you may feel violated, or lose a sense of security in a place you should feel the most safe. Detectives show us how to prevent becoming a victim and what to do if you are victimized.

Carlton Dickerson's home in Albemarle County has been burglarized twice.

"It's a very disturbing thing to have your house broken into," he says.

Detectives say they investigate burglaries and larcenies everyday in our area. They want you to know what to do if you're a victim.

If you come home and realize your house has been broken into, the burglar may still be there.

"Don't enter the house, find a safe location make notification to 911 if you can or have a neighbor call 911," says Detective Phil Giles with Albemarle County Police.

There's another reason they want you to stay out.

"If a victim goes in and starts moving things around they could potentially damage evidence the suspect may have left behind," Detective Giles says.

So detectives from Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the University of Virginia have created an unofficial task force to work specifically on burglaries and larcenies.

"Since we've started working together with the university and the county, we've been able to clear a majority of those," according to Detective D.J. Harris with the Charlottesville Police.

He says they're solving about 50% of cases with an arrest or suspect. The national standard is 12%

Detectives say, most of the time burglars look for a time that's easy for them, when you're not home.

"In talking to the suspects we arrest, these are the things they look for, they look for the porch light on, no car, the paper box has multiple papers in it...they look for the mailbox to be overflowing and full of mail they also look to see if there are dogs and alarm placards," says Detective Giles.

The best way to fend them off is to switch up your routine, or send mixed signals.

Detective Giles says, "leave a radio on one day leave a T.V. one day it's not going to make that much difference in your electric bill especially if it means your house won't be broken into."

But it's more than a matter of securing your home.

"If we could find a way not only to stop the theft but actually cut down on the number of citizens who actually buy the stolen property we could actually make an impact in the number of burglaries that are actually happening," say Detective Harris.

One way they want to do that is by prosecuting the people who buy the stolen goods.

"I think one of the greatest crime prevention things that I can put out to citizens in Charlottesville and Albemarle is that as a community, a neighborhood, as a village, that everyone's eyes working together can help keep us safe," says Detective Harris.

And for Dickerson, it's a change in philosophy.

"I grew up in a neighborhood where we didn't lock our doors you know we would go off to church and leave the house unlocked, but i'm afraid those days are gone," he says.

Police say keeping serial numbers and records of items in your home can help them return stolen goods.

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