This post is about how an experienced, licensed private investigator can assist you after a burglary.
The sentimental value of losing a wedding ring or a gifted item can be even more painful than the monetary losses.
We regularly receive telephone calls and emails from potential clients who have just been the victim of a residential or commercial burglary. A few years ago, we were the agency of record in one of the largest residential burglaries in the United States which took place in Tustin, California. The loss was estimated to be 6.4 million dollars.
Often though, the sentimental value of losing a wedding ring or a gifted item can be even more painful than the monetary losses.
The FBI and many local law enforcement agencies provide a wide range of statistics on this subject matter. This is not exact science as many of these burglaries go unreported.
A few interesting and generally-agreed upon numbers are:
A burglary occurs in the U.S. about every 15 seconds.
There are 5,400+ burglaries a day.
74% of all burglaries are on residential properties.
65% of burglaries occur during the day.
A statistic that no one seems to have is what percentage of homes or businesses had alarms that were unarmed with a video that was not running.
How it usually works
The residential scenario usually plays out like this:
A couple comes home to find entry has been made through a broken window at the back of the residence.
On many occasions, an unlocked door is used. Upon entering, they observe numerous items thrown about, generally in the master bedroom.
A pillow case may have been taken to help carry away the loot.
The night stands are open with the drawers on the floor.
The always-available and never-locked jewelry drawer or case has been found and completely ransacked.
Any other valuables of note are taken as the bad guys make their exit from the residence within 90 to 120 seconds.
The vast majority of the time when these burglars enter or leave, they pass by the unarmed alarm system and video cameras which are off.
In both cases, the owner or finder of these attacks is initially confronted with the sickening and sinking feeling of being violated.
Most victims call the local police, who come out when their schedule permits, complete a report and provide a case number. Many times the police just provide an incident number and that case is never referred to a detective at the police department. When you receive a case number, your matter is almost always reviewed by a detective in the robbery division of the police department. The overwhelming amount of these cases never leave the desk drawer and are unworked. This is directly related to more pressing crimes being worked at any given time.
It should be no secret that your burglary case doesn’t compete well with murder, rape and violent criminal cases.
If that isn’t enough, remember most local police departments are hampered by having no overtime.
So what do you do next?
First, realize that the items taken in both residential and commercial burglaries are sold on the open market for pennies on the dollar. Most crooks have places they can take the merchandise to be sold quickly. Strict laws on intake procedures (your driver’s license will be needed along with a fingerprint) will almost always limit items being taken to a pawn shop, so don’t waste your time visiting them.
Jewelry is almost always melted down and becomes untraceable. Many items are sold overseas with Mexico being number one on the hit parade.
Here is what you do next:
First, call a private investigator with experience in these matters. (The agency or PI should have at least 100 cases like this under their belt.)
Have the private investigator evaluate the situation and determine any immediate recommendations.
Have the private investigator tell you an investigative plan.
Have the private investigator give you a time frame.
Have the private investigator tell you exactly how much it will cost.
By retaining a knowledgeable licensed private investigator, he or she should be able to assist you, at a minimum, in the following five areas:
First, the investigator’s presence and investigative acumen should bring this case out of the file drawer and to the head of the police department’s robbery file.
Second, the investigator should be an expert in the interview and interrogation process so he might be readily prepared to interview employees and/or possible suspects.
Third, the investigator should be able to develop a “hook” to get press coverage, be it radio, television or the print media.
Fourth, he should have a solid grasp of social media and the role it could play in developing leads and tracking down suspects.
Fifth, if the PI or agency has credibility and you have insurance, the fact you hired a PI will almost always settle your claim quickly and without problems.
If the private investigator doesn’t mention these, find another PI.
After all this, the investigator (who generally is not a security expert) should bring in a consultant to determine if your security system is properly equipped and meets the current standards. That expert should also teach you how to alarm the system. Most consultants will also discuss why video is an essential part of any security plan. The consultant should provide guidelines and procedures so that you and your family members or coworkers develop a permanent habit of alarming the system and video when leaving.
Finally, we don’t sell any products, and only recommend reputable security companies with modern equipment that is actually relatively inexpensive.
In addition, the monthly security monitoring (which is usually a huge rip-off) should not exceed $15/month.