Last night, the kids left the garage open after sledding all afternoon and I failed to perform my usual rounds due to still being horrendously ill. At some point between 23:00 & 05:30, miscreants did a snatch & grab on some electronics and other items. Ugh. This was both a physical security failure and a risk management issue, but I’ll keep this post on-topic and expound on the other items at a later date.
The first thing I did after noticing something was amiss was to take an inventory of what was missing from both the vehicles and then the garage in general. Once I had that list, it was time to start making the calls to the police department and insurance company. If you’ve ever been a vitcim of such a loss, you know the one question that comes up almost immediately: “Do you have the serial #’s and approximate value of the items taken?”. Most people, unfortunatley, don’t.
While you do not necessarily need anything more than a file folder and some note paper (plus receipts), using a tool like Evernote can really help. You first need to create a folder called (something like) “Home Inventory”. Then, on or very near the date of acquisition do the following:
- Take a picture of the object (television, GPS, camera, road bike, guitar, etc) and put it the Evernote home inventory folder as a new note with the title being the actual, full brand/product name. This is made even easier if you use a smart phone that has an Evernote app on it. Take more than one picture if you want to include more of the location it was ultimately placed in. I would also suggest having yourself or another owner be in one of the pictures.
- Add to the note the actual date of purchase. It also helps to either take a picture of or scan the printed receipt or paste in the e-mail with the receipt (if purchased online).
- Locate the serial number and manufacturer id number and put those in. It helps to take an actual picture of this information as well.
- Include the room or other physical location of where the object was ultimately placed (this makes sense only if it’s a fixed-asset like a TV, stereo or car GPS).
- If you have the technical know-how, make an MD5 hash of all attachments (pictures/scans) and include the MD5 sums in the entry. This validates the integrity of the stored information as best as possible
- Do not forget to include any SD cards, docking stations, GPS mounts, cables, custom road bike wheelsets etc in your list. I would recommend associating them with the entry for the main object you are documenting
- If you have any account, financial or other personal infomation (e.g. e-mail address, usernames, passwords) stored on the object – and even TV’s hold this type of data these days – document those as well and include any remediation steps or contact info (such as bank phone number)
- If the object is something like a media center (e.g. Apple TV) or media hard drive, you will need to keep a separate inventory of the non-replaceable, paid content on it and include that in any loss document if you do not have backups
Now, when you do become the victim of such a crime or incur damage as a result of a fire/flood/etc, you have all the data any agency or company will need to document the loss. This information may also be useful to help law enforcement find the stolen objects (if a theft), especially if there are unique markings.
While this was not a fun experience, it did validate my time and effort building and maintaining this inventory and will hopefully be helpful to others, though I sincerely hope you never have to go through anything similar.