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Sponsored: I learned about SimpliSafe the hard way, but you don’t have to

After discovering his home had been ransacked by burglars, Len couldn't believe his eyes. The unimaginable had just happened, though he never believed it was possible. What happened to him could happen to you if your home isn't protected. Don't wait to learn this lesson through the school of hard knocks - read this story and learn from Len's example.

January 12, 2017, started out like any other day - but by the time Len returned home from work, it was clear that something big had happened.

"I left work and went home like I do every day and opened up my garage door," Len explained. At first, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

"I own two cats and they're very reckless. A lot of times it wouldn't be too surprising if I were to come home and see things knocked onto the floor, so when I walked in that's what I saw. The first thing I thought of was, 'Wow-they were very active today,' because it was a mess. And then, suddenly, I realized that I was seeing things that were a little too heavy for them to knock over. And then, you get that flush of panic going through you."

It didn't take Len long to realize what had actually happened: His home had been broken into. More than 3.7 million home burglaries are reported every year, and over 30 burglaries were reported in the month of July alone within the area of Northern Phoenix, where Len lives.

Len had just become one of those statistics.

How it feels when it happens to you

Like many of us, Len never imagined something like this would happen to him. "In my entire life I've never lived in an area where I felt I needed to have an alarm," he said. "And I've lived in Los Angeles, and not the greatest areas during my days of being a struggling musician and working three part-time jobs, and all that kind of stuff."

But on January 12, that all changed.

"I looked to my left and saw my kitchen window open and every cabinet open, and I saw movie posters that I'd had in my home theater room leaning by the kitchen counters. You see that, and then it hits you: I've been robbed."

Image: The window burglars used to enter Len's home. Access for approximately 30 percent of break-ins is through an unlocked, ground level window or door.

It happened during broad daylight, somewhere between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. while Len was at work. Len, a video editor here at the Komando studios, is no stranger to working long hours. And that's exactly what the thieves were counting on when they broke into his house. The movies would have you believe that burglars prefer to work in the dark, but did you know that the vast majority of break-ins occur when the sun is up?

Tip within a tip: Summer is the season when home burglaries skyrocket. Is your home covered like it should be? Click here and learn how to keep your home safe this summer, and during any season.

What really happens after a break-in

After finding his personal belongings scattered and ransacked, Len's natural reaction was to call the police. But could they help him?

"I called the police and they showed up five hours later because it wasn't a 911 emergency," Len recalled. "They walked through, said they couldn't find any fingerprints and that I should call my insurance company. So the cops came, did nothing. I got a police report and then I called the insurance company. By then I'd gone through everything and started discovering items that were taken."

Somewhere between $7,000 - $8,000 had been stolen right from Len's home, and the crooks didn't go after the items you might think.

"What amazes me is what they didn't take," Len said. "They didn't touch my computer, they didn't touch my hard drive, they didn't touch my TV, that kind of stuff."

Instead, they set their sights on Len's prized collection of movie memorabilia.

"My whole life I've been collecting movie posters, and I have a lot of movie memorabilia. They stole original movie posters I'd framed, they literally took them right off the wall. They probably had no idea what they were even worth. For example, my favorite movie is 'Jaws.' I had an original 1975 'Jaws' poster in mint condition. You can't touch those for less than $1,500 - $2,000 and that's not including the frame. They took that. They took an original 'Scarface' poster. They took an original 'Rocky' poster. They took an autographed to me Cindy Crawford autograph. They took a lot of things that you can't replace."

But, it could have been worse, he admitted. "I have two cats, which are like my babies, and the window was left open. They could have jumped outside. Thankfully, they didn't. It's like, it's material stuff - it's a poster, get over it - but if [my cats] ran off, it would have been awful."

The aftermath of a break-in

Image: During the burglary, Len's personal property was torn through, tossed out and even damaged. The average cost of $2,230 is lost by homeowners during a break-in, including cash, valuables and property that is stolen. 

Eventually, Len was able to replace many of the items that were taken from his home. However, it took a great deal of arguing back and forth with his insurance company.

"I got a reasonable check from [my insurance company] because they weren't believing the value of these posters. Plus they did a lot of damage. They came in through my back gate and they screwed it up, they tried to get in through the front door and they screwed up the whole frame of the door, so I could barely even lock my front door for a while. It was really quite the fight to get money for the repairs and get the money to finally replace these items."

Still, he admits there are some things he'll never get back. Most particularly, his time and his memories.

"I've pretty much replaced all the items by now, but it's been a six-month ordeal. And, they're never going to have the same sentimental value. That 'Jaws' poster, for example, I graduated high school in 1980 and I got $100 from my parents for graduation. That's what I bought with that money when I was 18. That poster has been to three states, with me through marriages, and I don't know how many different places, and it had a sentimental value. I've since replaced the poster, and it's in a bit of a nicer frame now, but it's now the replacement of my stolen one. It's not the same."

Turning to SimpliSafe

"I've always had friends that had home security systems. Some of them have 10 cameras and can pull up every angle of their house and back yard - I didn't care. It's never been a thing I really felt was necessary. But the personal feeling I felt when I went into my home and found I'd been robbed, I'd be lying if I didn't say that every day when I'd walk into my home after that there was a little anxiety. It was quite the violation."

Anyone who has been through a similar experience can surely relate. Getting "back to normal" after a break-in can take several months, and that's just to deal with the cleanup and replacement of items. It doesn't factor in the emotional impact that can be caused by such a dramatic event.

SimpliSafe employees hear these types of stories every day from new customers who come to them for help. They also help to prevent these stories from happening by keeping an eye on your home even when you're away. When you purchase a home security system from SimpliSafe, you can have 24/7 monitoring for your property for as little as $15 per month. And, even better - you're not locked into a long-term contract! Click here to learn more about SimpliSafe's home security options and 24/7 home monitoring.

Getting started is simple

"When I got SimpliSafe, I was a little skeptical at first," Len described, recalling his initial concerns. "Even though I have a job where I do a lot of techy stuff, I'm not the handy man. I know these people have these alarms installed and they're wiring stuff and going into the attic, and I can't do that. I'm a busy person."

Luckily, Len found that SimpliSafe lived up to its name.

"When I finally took it out of the box, I realized that with SimpliSafe, you don't have to do that. It's all done through a cellular tower, and you just hook it up and it's just simple, simple, simple."

In fact, SimpliSafe was so simple to install and set up, Len thought it probably wouldn't even work. "I put the sensors on, I was going to the website, all the serial numbers were there, and I thought, 'This isn't going to do anything.' But it did, and I was amazed! And it worked great. I get text alerts, email alerts, and my system came with a camera, and I have the camera in my computer room and I can look at the room that these people broke into."

As for the peace of mind that comes when you have a SimpliSafe home security system, Len couldn't be more satisfied. "There are sensors and you've got 30 seconds. If you don't put the code in there, the alarm is going to go off, and then I'll get a call from SimpliSafe. And if they don't hear from me, they'll call the authorities immediately. They're on it!"

Customizing your SimpliSafe system to meet the needs of your home is also an easy process. Len's system came with four sensors included, and he purchased six additional sensors to use in additional doors and windows. He also has a SimpliCam, carbon monoxide detector, smoke detector, water sensor, freeze sensor, a wireless keypad and two keychain remotes that let him deactivate his alarm as he pulls into the garage.

"I've got to say, at first it was weird to set it up, I couldn't believe how easy it was, and then it actually worked. And then it took a while to get used to remembering to turn the alarm on and off. But now I'm glad I have it. Now, I know that if someone opens one of those doors or windows, that's going to go off. I don't know if they're going to catch them, but if anything, it will be a deterrent and they'll get out of there. Or you might catch them on the camera and have their picture."

To anyone who's thinking about installing a SimpliSafe system in their home, Len offers the following advice: "Don't let what happened to me happen to you. Get SimpliSafe. To set it up, just read the instructions and have a plan as to which areas in your home make the most sense to put it."

After experiencing the unimaginable for himself, Len said he's never going back to the days when he believed something like this could never happen to him. "From now on, for the rest of my life, I will always have an alarm system in my home," he said. "You don't go back. I'm just sad that I had to go through this to realize that."

Len's story is a prime example of why it's so important that you protect your most valuable asset. SimpliSafe's home security system can help you catch criminals in the act by triggering an alarm the moment they enter and call the authorities immediately. And, there's really no reason to put it off any longer. As a Kim Komando listener, you can get $100 off SimpliSafe's already affordable security packages. Click here to save today when you use promo code KIM to buy your SimpliSafe home system.

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