Home Invasion, Home Robbery and Home Burglary

Tips for home theft prevention

You return home from a long weekend getaway only to notice one of your home's windows is broken. You step inside the house, realize someone has entered your home without your permission and see your television is missing. Adrenaline pumping, you want to take action.

How do you describe what happened? Is the crime a home robbery, a home burglary or a home invasion? The answer depends on the state you live in, whether anyone was home and if the intruder threatened someone in your home.

  • Home robbery
    When someone takes something from another person by force or the threat of force, it is a robbery, according to the FBI. If someone is threatened with force during a home break-in or theft, it is considered a home robbery.
  • Home burglary
    When someone enters your home without your permission with the goal of stealing or committing a felony, the FBI calls this a burglary. Not all burglaries involve a forced entry. In fact, some burglaries take place when someone slips in through an unlocked door.
  • Home invasion
    A home invasion is a term some states use to describe home burglaries with specific circumstances. In Michigan, for example, if someone is in the house during a burglary or the burglar is carrying a dangerous weapon, it is considered a home invasion. By contrast, in Illinois, if someone enters a home knowing someone is there or misrepresents themselves (as a police officer for example) to get into the house and threatens or uses force, it is considered a home invasion. No federal definition for home invasion exists.

Home burglary statistics

According the FBI, most burglaries happen in residential homes.

If you are among the unfortunate victims of a home burglary or home invasion, here's what you can do next.

Home burglary and home invasion tips – after the theft

  1. If you discover you've been burglarized, leave the house and call police. In the case of a home invasion, the intruder(s) may still be in the house, so seek safety at a neighbor's house or in your locked car. While waiting for police, make note of anything unusual in your neighborhood, like a car you don't recognize. And, ask your neighbors if they noticed anything unfamiliar.
  2. When the police arrive, they will inspect your home and make a report. Don't touch anything as the intruder's fingerprints may be left behind. Take notes as to what looks different and what is missing.
  3. If you see a broken window or another sign of forced entry, secure those areas as much as possible to avoid further damage.
  4. Call your home insurance company to make a claim. The insurance company will take a statement and may ask for a copy of the police report as well as photos, videos or receipts that prove the missing items were in the house.

If you have inventoried your possessions by taking photos and/or video footage of every room of your house, share that with your insurance company. Talk with your insurance company about the status of any valuables – such as art and jewelry – for which you've arranged special coverage.

If your home has been burglarized, it's also important to take steps to help prevent another break-in.

Home burglary prevention tips

You can do several things to help lessen the chance of being burglarized and to make your home insurance claim process easier should you ever become a victim of a home robbery again. To protect your home:

  • Install motion lights, mount a security camera (even a fake one helps), or install a home security system to deter someone from attempting to enter your home.
  • Trim bushes and trees around windows and doors so that invaders can be spotted easily.
  • Make sure all doors and windows are locked before you leave the house. If you are going to be gone for more than a couple of days, stop mail and paper delivery, have a neighbor or relative check your house periodically, and schedule snow removal or a lawn care service.

We hope you are never the victim of a home burglary, but if it happens to you, knowing the steps you should take immediately after the theft can make the situation less stressful. And, taking steps to prevent another break-in can help put your mind at ease the next time you are away from home.