If you’re the victim of a break-in, we really have a great deal of sympathy for you. We’ve seen first hand how having your home burgled is often a frightening and emotionally traumatic experience, and it’s often a time where a lot of confusion, upset and anger sets in.
With that in mind, it’s important to know what you should do if you’re the victim of what feels like such an invasive and personal crime. The guide below will take you through our 8 steps to getting your life and home in order as quickly as possible.
Often easier said than done, but try to remain calm. Rationalise the situation. While it may not feel this way, it’s typically not personal and many things can be replaced if adequate insurance is in place. Remaining calm allows you to perform the next steps to the best of your ability.
Call the Police
Calling the police in good time is important in any burglary, however if you are not in the house when you discover the burglary and have access to a telephone (either a mobile or a neighbours) do not enter the home to make the phone call if at all possible. Leaving the scene exactly as it is will help with forensic evidence and any prosecution further down the line and is also the best thing to do for your own personal safety.
Whilst waiting for the police, try to take a mental note of valuables that may be targeted by a thief, if you’re in a position to do so. This will enable you to recall and list any items that are missing much easier when you are asked.
Once the police have arrived, list any items that have been taken, ensuring you accurately and thoroughly describe each item and note an approximate value for each separately. Include any unique identifying marks that will enable quick identification in case of recovery. Don’t worry if you forget something or discover something new after the fact, additional items can be added later. Create an identical list for your insurance company.
Also note damage of your surroundings and if you saw anyone either leaving your residence, or acting suspiciously before or after the act, describe what you saw in as much detail as possible.
Taking photos of the scene, including any damage could help at a later date. If you’re able to do so, document the scene using photographic evidence. If you’re not able to do this for any reason, ask someone to do this for you.
The police will advise you what to do next, depending on the individual situation. You will also be issued a crime reference number when filing your report, which will also be needed by your insurance company.
Secure CCTV / Video Footage
Whilst viewing this footage may be difficult and we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it until emotions aren’t running so high, it’s still important to safeguard any security footage. Many security systems work on a time loop where old footage is overwritten, so it’s important to keep footage of this event safe.
Call Your Bank
If bank, debit or credit cards have been taken you should call your bank immediately. Similarly, this also applies in the event that digital data has been stolen, such as computers, tablets, USB devices and mobile phones – anything that may have personal and sensitive data.
If your passport or driving licence are stolen, tell the relevant authorities as soon as possible.
Secure Your Home and Clean Up All Signs of the Break In
Once your home intrusion has been adequately documented, it’s time to clean up signs of the break in. This includes boarding up any broken windows or doors until a repairman or locksmith has visited, and cleaning damage or markings to walls and floors. Look at this as an opportunity to upgrade your security. Upgrading will also make you feel more secure moving forwards and allow you to put the break in behind you more easily.
Call Your Insurance Company
If you have sufficient home insurance and submit a claim, you may recoup a satisfactory amount of money for what items were taken. Call your insurers when the dust has settled somewhat and you’re in a position where most of the missing items, damage, and other losses are clear. You should normally notify them within the first 24 hours after the event.
View CCTV / Video Footage
When you feel comfortable doing so, you should view any video footage of the break-in itself. This is often a very emotional experience and can trigger much anger and upset, so prepare yourself beforehand. The police may also want to view this footage, so make copies for them and your insurers should you be called upon to provide it. Whilst viewing the footage, try to ascertain where any security weaknesses are/were in your home so you can increase security in the future to prevent this happening again.
Assess The Emotional Impact
Coming to terms with a break-in can be very difficult. You may feel violated and vulnerable and unsafe in your own home, but it is possible to heal over time. Re-secure your home until you feel safer and use emotional support from friends and family where needed. Many people don’t realise the level of trauma involved in a burglary and should you need to, don’t be ashamed to go to your GP for counselling. They can refer you to MIND who offer free therapy sessions that will allow you put the event behind you and start moving forwards again.
Contact an Expert
Empire Locksmiths offer free home security checks and it’s always wise to ensure that the likelihood of this happening again will be minimised in the future. We’ll advise you on the most effective ways to secure your property, with the minimum of fuss.