Shared by Alison Kenda on Nextdoor:

Three years ago, we were victims of a burglary. In broad daylight, they broke into our home and took over $20,000 worth of electronics, jewelry, and, worst of all, my precious violin, which had once belonged to my grandfather. Thanks to a somewhat obsessive husband who saves everything, we had serial numbers for all of our electronics and it led to us recovering many of the pieces that mattered most, including the violin. So, here is a PSA with all of the tips and info that DPD shared with us at that time.

I wanted to share our detetctive’s suggestions for protecting your property and, in the event you do get hit by a crime, ways that you can help the police with your case. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING….collect serial numbers for every piece of electronics you own and keep them in a password protected spreadsheet on cloud storage, or on multiple systems–such as on a home computer and a work computer. Or, do it old school and do it on paper and keep it in a safe, with a copy stored elsewhere as well. The detective explained that 99% of the time, people never get anything back from robberies because they don’t have their belongings cataloged, don’t have serial numbers, etc. We are incredibly lucky because we were able to give them serial numbers for our electronics. Photograph all of your jewelry, art, instruments, etc. Get appraisals with detailed descriptions and keep them up to date. If you have weapons, ensure that the serial numbers for those are also recorded and stored as above. Incidentally, having this information will also help your insurance claim as well. You can help the police by making it harder for crooks to get into your property, and make it easier to track your stuff down when they do. This also helps prosecute the offenders.

Get a safe for your home–he recommended a Browning brand one. Not only will it protect your belongings in a fire, but will protect you from theft if it is bolted to the structure/built in. He recommends keeping weapons in there, as well as things in there that you would be devastated to lose, including heirlooms, important papers, photo discs and memory cards, etc. He also recommended that you get an external hard drive for your computer, and store all personal information on it, putting it back in the safe after each time you save something new. Do not leave anything important on your computer in case it gets stolen. Download photos off your phones and video cameras often, or set up auto-upload systems so that every image is automatically stored somewhere as soon as it is taken.

Get a security system and motion-triggered lights in your yard. Steel doors, high quality locks. (He recommends Medeco locks). Make sure basement window wells have locking grates on them. Always lock doors, windows, and cars, and NEVER, NEVER, NEVER leave valuables in your car, no matter where it is parked.

Keep an eye on your neighborhood and report ANY suspicious activity. Even if you are not sure. We are the experts on our neighborhood–more so than the police are. We know who comes and goes and when, we know who lives where, etc. If you see ANYTHING, please call. Let your neighbors know when you will be out of town. Have someone pick up your mail, etc. Get timers for lights so that they can be set to turn on when you are away. NEVER leave the door unlocked that allows someone to enter your home from the garage, and don’t park your car in the garage and leave your keys in it, your purse in it, etc. Also, do away with the racks of keys that hang in garages with keys to your vehicles, ATVs, etc.

Pay attention when you are walking. Don’t be typing away on your phone or reading on it. Keep your head up and look around. Make eye contact with people as they walk by you. Note what they are wearing, distinct features, etc. Pay attention to the vehicles that are typically parked around your neighbors’ homes.

Our conversation with him was very eye-opening and we are incredibly grateful for the hard work of the DPD and the gift of them recovering some of our most treasured items. I can’t stress enough how important having your serial numbers is. Without them, my family treasures would have been gone forever, and the perps never would have been brought to justice. Go record your serial numbers and photograph your valuables today!!!

Another neighbor added –

Get to know the people who live on your block. If you know your neighbors, you will be more likely to spot the person who doesn’t belong. So, when that person walks up to the side of someone else’s house you will feel confident that they likely shouldn’t be there and call your neighbors and potentially the police. We’ve been having annual block parties. I’m also trying to start a Neighborhood Watch on our block.