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Attorney shares actions to take if home burglarized following fire

Attorney shares actions to take if home burglarized following fire

MILWAUKEE — Over the past five days, Fred Sanders and his family have lost their home, car, and different valuables.

TMJ4 News

In the days that followed at their apartment complex on the Fourth of July, Sanders said his damaged townhouse was burglarized. Items that weren’t damaged by the fire were stolen.

“My wife had about $1,000 saved up in the pockets of her coat,” said Sanders. “That was taken…because they went through every pocket in every coat. My PS4, my Xbox, everything. Just all of our electronics and all of our extra money there.”

VIDEO: Attorney shares actions to take if home burglarized following fire

Attorney shares actions to take if home burglarized following fire

Since then, Sanders and another tenant who had items stolen have filed a police report. He’s also been in touch with his insurance.

Viewers saw Fred’s story and reached out to TMJ4, sharing similar experiences of having their home or apartment burglarized following a fire.

TMJ4 spoke with Nick Toman, the managing attorney for housing with the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, on what people can do, if anything when a situation like this happens.

Mike Beiermeister

Nick Toman, Managing Attorney for Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee

“The landlord has the responsibility to maintain a safe and habitable premise,” said Toman. “The issue is that after a fire, the premise probably isn’t habitable anymore, but the obligation to secure the premises still resides with the landlord.”

Berrada Properties owns this apartment complex that Sanders was living in when the fire struck. TMJ4 has reached out multiple times with no response in regard to the burglaries.

The damaged part of the apartment building has been boarded up. As to how the thieves got into the apartments, it still remains a mystery.

Previous Coverage: ‘Everything is gone’: Apartment fire victim returns to find home burglarized (

Previous Coverage: ‘I was running for my life’: fire guts multiple units in Milwaukee building (

Toman provided some advice for those impacted but acknowledged that there aren’t a lot of solutions.

“Filing a police report is a good move,” said Toman. “Documenting your property, what you have, and what you’ve lost in the immediate aftermath is often helpful.”

Even before a situation like this happens, he recommends having homeowners or renters insurance. That means a policy that fits all of your valuables and covers burglaries.

“As part of the renter’s insurance, it’s a good idea to have an inventory of your possessions, the valuable possessions that you want to be replaced, so that there is proof of what you’ve lost, whether it be because of the fire or because of the burglary,” said Toman.

Saving that list to electronic storage like the cloud can pay dividends.

Toman also said pursuing legal action could be a route, but that could take months to years to recoup losses.

“They’d have to be able to establish what was stolen, how much it’s worth, and then that the landlord is at fault, so you’d have to establish that they didn’t secure the apartment building in any way after a reasonable amount of time,” said Toman.

A fire can complicate the situation. He added that it’s tricky to prove a reasonable amount of time.

The fire remains under investigation.

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