"If I had known I was going to get robbed today, I would have…"

"...cleaned the house more."  That's the funniest thing I heard Ashley say on Monday.  It was funny, but it reveals a lot about our emotions at that time.  We don't live in filth, but our house always looks lived in (unless we have friends or family over).  Ashley is slowly prying me away from my dirty ways. 

Photo courtesy of riot jane

That one statement is very eye-opening because of how true it is.  It's not just the cleaning the house; there are SO MANY things I would have changed to reduce the impact of our robbery.  You know the things I'm talking about.  Every time you've said "We should really do {Insert important thing to do here}." and then you thought to yourself "Naaah, I'll do that later when I have more time.", those are the things you want to get done.  If it seems important, then you should make sure it happens and happens quickly.  You never know when some asshole will decide to make your house his or her personal blue light special. 

As promised, here are a few of the things I wish I had done to better prepare for this craptacular event.  Some of these things are not something I actually got burned on, but I'm doing now just in case it happens again.  So, without further adieu, here is my list:

  • Get a safety deposit box at the bank.  The fire safe was woefully inadequate for keeping my documents safe from burglary.  In fact, I made it easier by providing everything in a central location conveniently packaged with a carrying handle! The safety deposit box is so cheap, it's a no brainer.  My important documents belong in a steel box protected by a double lock which resides in vault protected by inches of concrete and steel.  Your stuff belongs there too.
  • Organize my desk better.  My desk is a mountain of papers and knick knacks. There is now an area where something is missing, but I'm not sure what it is. 
  • Have an itemized list of valuable things.  It's important to know what you have and any applicable model numbers and serial numbers.  Pictures of said things would be good to have also.  This is proof of what you have and might also help the police get your stuff back.
  • Lock the back door deadbolt.  If someone is going to get into my house, I want them to have to break into my house.  It might seem silly, but I want the robber to at least have to work for it. I never really thought it was important since we're kind of isolated here.  Apparently we weren't alone on this one, because our neighbors are now locking their back deadbolt after they heard of our misfortunes.
  • Have surveillance or monitoring.  A security system would be nice to have.  At the very least, I could have had a webcam recording solution to try to capture images of the thieves.  I found a few guides to do just that here and here.
  • Have more control over my laptop.  Shit, I write software for a living.  I totally could have my machine running a service hitting a private url awaiting instructions.  At the very least, a simple ping would let me know what ip address my laptop is running from.  Even cooler would be a way for me to grab remote control of it and lock it down.
  • Load better ammo in my guns. This is more for if someone decides to break in while I'm here.  I used to have some crappy target ammo in my revolver and Ashley's little gun had no ammo at all. (Honey, it's time for you to get that handgun carry permit.)  We're now loaded up with some nice hollow point ammo.  A trip to the gun range to keep fresh with the guns will follow shortly.
  • Backup my data offsite.  We didn't lose much on the laptop because most of it is stored on my PC which managed to not get stolen. (Hurray for the plain beige box!)  It was still a wake up that I need to get my stuff out of the house.  I signed up for backup service from Mozy.com.  It's only $5/month.  I would be kicking my own ass if I had lost data because I didn't pay such a small amount.

That's about all I can think of at the moment.  This seems like a good post to end on for my whole getting robbed thing.  If by some miracle the police come up with some good news, then I'll report back.  Please learn from my mistakes and protect yourself.

House Robbed: The Days Following

Last week, I posted about our house getting robbed.  I'm starting to get over the initial shock, and I thought I would share with you some of the precautions Ashley and I took to bring some order back into our lives.  Depending on what was stolen will determine what actions will need to be taken, so I'll go over the things stolen and our resulting actions.  Some of this applies regardless, so I'll go over that first.

  1. Get out of the house.  At the point that you realize that you've been robbed, you won't know if the criminals are still inside your home.  It's just safer to leave the house.
  2. Call the police.  They'll come and make sure your house is secure.  Be prepared for a lengthy visit.  The police were at our house for a couple of hours.  The officer took pictures of the disturbed areas, helped us go through the house to log the items stolen, and dusted for fingerprints.
  3. Re-secure your home.  You have to feel safe in your own home, so repair any damage that would allow a criminal back into your home that night.  Even if it's just temporary, do it.  You'll feel better.  In our case, the point of entry was unknown, but since we never locked our back deadbolt, we think the back door was jimmied.  Regardless, one of the fire safe boxes stolen contained spare keys to the house, so I went to the hardware store and picked up new locks for the entire house.  I stayed up installing them that night.
  4. Notify your insurance company. They'll assist you in filing an insurance claim to help recover your losses.

That about covers the things you have to do regardless of what gets stolen.  Unfortunately, we had a lot of information stolen that compromises our identities, so we had a feverish couple of days handling the rest of this.

  1. Notify the credit bureaus.  Since my social security number and birth certificate got stolen, we put an alert on our credit for 3 months.  We called TransUnion and they notified the other 2 big credit bureaus (Experian and Equifax) for us. 
  2. Go to the bank.  We had checks and account numbers stolen, so there is a lot to do here.  Basically, we closed out all of our old bank accounts and created new ones.  We could have just put a stop payment notice on the stolen checks, but it's better to be safe than sorry. This was where most of our efforts were focused because EVERYTHING that we do is automatically drafted/deposited.
  3. Contact your auto-drafted services and utilities.  Since we changed bank accounts, we had to provide them the new account information.  It wasn't hard to do, but it was just a lot of calls to make.
  4. Talk to your employer.  You want to get paid, right?  Let them know your new account number so that your direct-deposited check goes to the right place.
  5. Go to your other bank.  Some checks to an equity line were taken as well.  Since we don't use that equity line, we had the bank freeze the account so that no loans could be taken from it unless we showed up in person.  If you have an equity line and use it, go to the bank and they will advise you on what to do.
  6. Get your social security card reprinted.  Mine was taken, and I had to get a new one if I ever want to change jobs or get a passport.  This was free, but the wait was horrible.  The 2 times I've been to the social security office it was packed.  Take a snack and be prepared to wait an hour or two.
  7. Get your birth certificate reprinted.  This will cost money to replace, so make sure to keep the receipts for that insurance claim you might be filing.
  8. Get your vehicle titles reprinted.  The fire safe had our vehicle titles in it, so I had to make a trip to the clerk's office to get new ones ordered.  This will cost you some money, so make sure to keep the receipts for insurance.
  9. Get your marriage license reprinted.  I'm just adding this for completeness.  The same applies to the other non-free things above.  Keep your receipts.
  10. Change your online passwords.  Since we had a laptop stolen, we're changing all of our online passwords.   Start with the most important things first like banks and credit cards and work your way down to the lesser important websites you use. I'd rather not take any chances, so secure those password protected websites.  If this isn't a case for OpenID, I don't know what is.
  11. Get identity theft protection. I'm still researching companies for this, but I'll be subscribing to one of these services that monitor my credit for me.  There are a lot of things you can do yourself, but it just might be worth it to have someone go to bat on your behalf if stuff starts happening here.

It's safe to say that this process sucks royally.  Not only has our space been violated, but now we have to do a ton of work to protect ourselves.  If you can think of anything I might have missed or have some advice for me, please share in the comments or contact me directly.

Locks Keep Honest People Honest

For those of you who aren't family and don't follow me on twitter, our house got robbed.  The past 24 hours have been a flurry of emotions.  Sometime yesterday during the same some asshat(s) decided to break into our house and help themselves.  They stole a few things of value, but at the same time they managed to grab some things of sentimental value and a lot of personal information.  Ashley lost a few pieces of jewelry that were given to her by her late grandfather, her father, and myself.  The homemade recording of our wedding is gone along with the camcorder that it was stored with.  They also managed to get a fire safe that contained all of our freaking important documents like social security cards, birth certificates, and receipts just to name a few.  Checks and some emergency money were also among the prizes won by those sons of bitches.

Photo courtesy of *saxon*

Right now I'm just tired.  I'm normally really cool headed, but right now it's hard.  Emotions really produce a lot of stress.  Right now I'm feeling a lot of them.

  • Anger - How can you not be angry when someone comes and takes something that is yours?  Ashley and I work hard to have what we have.  It really pisses me off that someone got something for free that I worked for.
  • Fear - Wow, this is a tough one.  Our space has been violated against our will.  There was nothing I could have done to stop what happened and that scares the shit out of me.  We weren't at home when it happened, but what if we were?  If this had been a month ago, Ashley would have been home while she was switching jobs.  A lot of scenarios start coming into your head.
  • Anxiety - Some creep now has enough information to steal my identity.  What's to come out of that in the coming months?
  • Blame - There are so many things that we could've done to reduce the impact of this robbery.  I'll talk about this more in coming blog posts, but it's safe to say that I have some regrets.
  • Urgency - Ashley and I each took a day off work to take on the monumental task of taking every precaution imaginable to try and do damage control.  Closing bank accounts, canceling checks, canceling credit cards, new social security card, calling credit bureaus, etc, etc, etc.  The list just goes on.  Time is of the essence and you can't work fast enough to try and keep these pieces of shit from causing you more trouble

I'm sure there is more, but I'm tired and I need to get some sleep.  I'll elaborate more on this in the coming days.  I just needed to get a few things off my chest.