Last Thursday morning, our house was robbed. While I was in it. With my infant daughter. Nursing in the bedroom. At 8:30am. (It gets more and more unbelievable, doesn’t it?)
I’m not normally overly concerned with safety. Well, my husband would argue that, but let’s just say I’ve always felt safe in our house and our neighborhood. My husband bought our house 12 years ago, and he’s never had a break-in.
Thankfully, thankfully, no one was hurt and material items can be replaced. But I learned way too many lessons in the past few days not to share them with you.
After all, I believe your health is so closely tied to feeling safe in the world, and there are a few easy things you can do to prevent the worst case scenario, or handle it a little easier if something were to happen.
Since both our MacBooks and my iPhone were stolen, I’m going to share with you some strategies to protect the information on your electronic devices, as well as your home and family. (You can skip to whichever section appeals to you.)
Tips to protect your electronic information in the event of theft:
Sidenote: I am an Apple person. You may have to use the ol’ Google to find the PC and smartphone equivalent. Post in the comments below if you find it, for our PC readers. 🙂
1) Download the free App called Find My iPhone from the App Store. Once you download this app, make sure all your devices are connected to it — your laptop, your iPad, and your iPhone. This app allows you to locate all your devices if they are online, with an option to erase all data the next time they’re connected to the internet.
I was able to remotely erase all the content on both my iPhone and my MacBook using this app on my iPad. But if the intruder had stolen my iPad as well, I could’ve accessed all three devices from any computer and erased all the content. (A really satisfying feature on this app is that you can leave a message for whoever finds your devices. I used a lot of expletives.)
Click here to watch a short video that shows you how to make sure your computer is connected to this app. (To connect your iPhone and iPad, just download the app to each device from the App Store.)
2) Set your computer to automatically require a password when it goes into sleep mode. That way, if you’ve left any documents or browser windows open that you wouldn’t want anyone to see, nobody can see your screen without a password. (Similar to a passcode on your phone.)
Click here to watch a short video that shows you how to set up your computer password. (It’s the same video as above.)
3) Password protect important documents. If you have important documents on your computer that have personal information, make sure to password protect them. Important: If you forget this password, you will be unable to retrieve it, so make sure it’s one you won’t forget, or keep it in a safe place outside your computer.
Click here to watch a short video that shows you how to password protect your important documents. (Same video as above.)
4) Set up a passcode on your phone. A simple 4-digit code that you have to enter to open your phone. (Under Settings > General > Passcode Lock.) I used to think this was a hassle. Now I don’t. Eerily, I set this up on my phone a few days before it was stolen. Phew!
5) Back up, back up, back up. I highly recommend Apple’s Time Capsule and Time Machine software. It’s a little bit of an initial investment, but so worth it. Once you set it up, it wirelessly backs up your entire computer whenever it’s connected to the same network and plugged in. The theft happened on October 3rd. My last backup occurred without my knowing on October 2nd. I didn’t lose a thing.
Sidenote: There’s a difference between iCloud and Time Capsule. iCloud stores your information that gets pushed to other devices, like your contacts, email, calendars, reminders, and photos. And you can pay a monthly fee to back up your entire iTunes library. But iCloud won’t back up your hard drive on your computer, which contains all your Applications, files, and documents (in other words, everything). So make sure you have an additional hard drive backup system in place.
6) Try using a password manager. Here’s an article I found that talks about the pros and cons of the top 10 password managers. I have not yet used something like this, but now I’m thinking it’s a brilliant idea. If you know of a good one, leave it in the comments below.
Tips to protect your home and family:
1) Install a security system. They are extremely high tech and affordable these days. Do your research, and ask for referrals from friends and family. Just the security system sign in front of your house is a deterrent for potential intruders. And if something were to happen, there are cameras with motion sensors that will snap photos of the intruders, sensors that will detect the frequency at which glass breaks, remote arming and disarming features that you can control from your smartphone, the list goes on. The computer-lady that ams our security system has a lovely British accent. She’s a part of the family now.
2) Make sure you have home owners or renters insurance. This was a huge blessing for us.
3) If you suspect an intruder, LEAVE. I did not do this, and in hindsight, I see that I should have left our house and called the police from a neighbor’s house. Instead I approached the intruder and yelled at the top of my lungs to chase him out. I could immediately sense that he was startled by my presence, which is why I must have approached him. Honestly, I was not thinking, I was just acting. Now I know that was unwise.
Sidenote: Since the burglary, I keep thinking about the book, Gift Of Fear. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.
4) Know your neighbors. I love our neighbors, and I love knowing that if I knocked on their door, they would help me.
5) Take a self-defense class. I took one in college, and it felt extremely empowering. If you know of a good one, or would like to share your experience, please comment below. I would love to hear!
6) Ask for Divine protection. Whatever you believe in–the Universe, God, Buddha, Mother Nature–ask for Divine protection. I believe in angels, and I have asked that they surround our house, one at each corner, above and below. I picture each of them taking their post like gigantic regal lions, taller than a 5-story building.
7) Restore your faith in humanity. Most people are good. Remember that. Maybe even the burglar was good–inherently. My heart breaks to think of the dreadful life events that must happen to make someone amoral. Bless that f-ing burglar.
Stay safe and share this post with your friends and family.
Lots of love to you, dear reader.