Walking into a crime scene is a harrowing experience, and there is a lot to think about during a time when you will be under a lot of stress and might not be thinking straight. The only thing that can make this experience more stressful is walking into a crime scene on your property.

No one wants to be thrust into a crime scene at their place of living.

If you ever face this, this blog post will share the exact do’s and don’ts if that fateful day comes.

The Top 10 Dos When Your Home Is a Crime Scene.

1. Contact The Authorities

The very first thing you should do is call the police. This is a crime scene, so you need to notify law enforcement. Even if your home were not a crime scene, the police would still need to be called. Whether there is a body to be dealt with or physical evidence from domestic abuse or attempted murder, the police need to be called to investigate.

The police (or the medical examiner/coroner) will also be the ones to decide whether there needs to be an autopsy. You want to cover yourself if there is an investigation into the death, so it is best to get the police involved immediately.

 

2. Wait For Clearance

After you have called the police, you should leave the house until they get there (unless there are other people or pets to get out or there is immediate danger—perhaps the stove is left running and the home is filling with gas).

The house is a crime scene, and you must wait for the police to deal with the situation before you reenter. Wait outside and do not return to the house until they have given you clearance.

 

3. Call Your Attorney

Even if you are not a part of the crime scene, it is worth calling your lawyer to help you through the situation until the crime scene is cleared. If you were a part of the situation (if you had to defend yourself against a domestic abuser), you might have to defend yourself in a court of law.

Decline any interviews with police until you have your lawyer present, and instead, be asked to be transported to the hospital for physical and mental checks. You can answer any questions later, and you should be out of the way while the first responders are doing their job.

 

4. Protect Valuables

If you have valuables in the home that you need to retrieve, you can ask a police officer to escort you into the house to get them. You might need to get things like medication, identification, clothes, and even pets.

If law enforcement removes any items from your home and you do not have immediate access to them, ask for a receipt so you can retrieve the item later.

 

5. Call Friends And Family

While waiting for the police to finish their investigation, you can notify the next of kin if that is not you. You can call your closest friends and relatives and relay the news to them or choose someone to pass on the news to everyone else.If you are involved in the crime scene, you will be under a lot of stress and pressure, so depend on others to help you through this situation.

 

6. Check Insurance Policy

You should check the insurance policy to find out if you have coverage for cleaning bodily fluids at a crime scene. If the home is not yours, you will have first to find out if there is an insurance policy, and if you know there is, there might be a physical copy for you to retrieve from the house, which you can do with a police escort.

Call the insurance provider and ask them what steps you can take next to ensure the cleaning process proceeds smoothly.

The other option is to go ahead with the cleaning and work closely with a cleaning vendor such as Spaulding Decon, knowing there is coverage you’ll find later. You can even enlist us to help find the insurance policy while we’re cleaning the house.

 

7. Hire A Clean-up Vendor

It may surprise you that your local government will likely not assist with cleaning up the crime scene. They will transport the body and any evidence, but cleaning out blood stains, potential pathogens, and broken items will fall solely on you.

Our top tip is not to use the insurance company’s preferred vendor. They often work with companies that are experts in certain types of cleaning but are not trained for biohazard clean-up. To ensure that the house is safe on re-entry, a company that can deal with biohazards should be hired.

At Spaulding Decon, we can help guide you through the process.

 

8. Move The Body

Once law enforcement clears the scene, the next step is to move the body. There are two likely outcomes; The coroner or medical examiner will move the body to perform an autopsy. If an autopsy isn’t required, then law enforcement will leave moving the body up to you.

A good clean-up vendor will move the body for you as part of the clean-up process, taking it to the mortuary or crematorium.

 

9. Invest In Self-Care

You will have been through a lot regardless of your role in the death. You can look into many victim advocacy programs to help counsel you through the traumatic events. You might not think it has affected you, but it can manifest later.

Seek out a professional service you trust, and look for someone who can act as a liaison between you and the crime scene. If needed, you can also find accommodation as part of a  victim advocacy program. 

 

10. Make Your House a Home

Having the crime scene cleaned is not the end of the process. There might still be damage to the property, and there will certainly be memories. You can invest in a second vendor to help restore or remodel the property.

You have to live in a place that was once a crime scene. The easier you can forget about what happened, the more you can move forward with your life. 

 

The 5 Don’ts Of A Crime Scene

1. Don’t Touch The Body

If you are the one to discover the body, and unless you think there might be something you can do to help the person, you should not touch the body. This is a crime scene, and you do not want to contaminate the body or surrounding area. Unless you’re sure there is something you can do, stay away from the body until the police have arrived.

You also have no idea how long the body has been in place, and there might be biohazards at the scene.

 

2. Don’t Attempt Clean-up Yourself

As soon as a person dies, the body starts to decompose. It does not take long for the body to become a biohazard, and many blood-borne diseases and toxins are released (among many other fluids that carry dangers).

You might know the person, but you can’t be sure of their exact medical history or their health status. If you come into contact with any pathogens, either on the body or on the surfaces around, you can end up causing yourself harm.

There’s a 2nd reason you shouldn’t clean up the crime scene immediately. Just because you’re certain of your innocence doesn’t mean the police are too. They will investigate any possible angle, and accidentally tampering with evidence can put unwanted attention on yourself.

 

3. Don’t Try To Do It All

This is a tough time, and it can affect your mental and physical health. The list above is not a comprehensive list of everything to do when you find a body, and there will be a million things to take care of before life can go back to normal.

Don’t be afraid to enlist some help. Call friends and family (and professionals) and delegate some of the many tasks. And invest in professional help and a victim advocacy program if needed.

 

4. Don’t Delay Making A Claim

The longer you wait to work with the insurance company to have the body removed, and the area cleaned, the longer it will take for the claim to be paid out, and you might find yourself out of pocket for some time. If you wait too long, you might even find your claim rejected.

 

5. Don’t Go With The Insurance Company’s Preferred Vendor

Most insurance companies’ vendors are trained in cleaning areas affected by mold, water, and fire. Most of them are not professionally trained in biohazard cleaning and disposal, and while they might do a good job of cleaning, they might not take care of everything effectively.

You should look into vendors yourself and look for one that can deal with biohazards. Find out more about who pays for crime scene clean-up by contacting us at Spaulding Decon and make your house a home again.

eBook - What To Do When Police Leave

There are so many misconceptions about law enforcement’s role when it comes to crime scenes and investigations. When law enforcement is called their sole responsibility is to collect evidence, interview witnesses, and solve a crime. There is no thought whatsoever to the cleanup or restoration to your home. Learn more in this free eBook by Spaulding Decon.

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