Burglary can happen when you are away from home, but also when you are at home, either by the thief tricking their way into your house, or by entering when you were sleeping or otherwise occupied.

Two thirds of victims in a recent survey were in their own homes when the burglary took place. Although burglary rates are gradually falling, it remains a serious crime that continues to affect a large number of householders.

How you may feel on discovering you have been burgled

The discovery that you have been burgled can be very distressing. For some, it can have long term emotional and psychological effects. Burglary victims commonly experience feelings of fear, worry, shock and anger, which are all perfectly normal reactions. Even if nothing has been stolen, people may be upset at the thought of a stranger entering their home and the unwelcome intrusion into their privacy. They may blame themselves for failing to properly secure their property, even if this is unjustified. Items of sentimental value may have been taken which cannot be replaced, which can be very distressing.

Steps you should take after a burglary is discovered

If you arrive home and think you can see signs of a break in, do not enter your house – the burglar could still be inside. This is an emergency. Go to a neighbouring house and call 999. Give the police as much information as you can. If you are sure the burglar is not present, call your local police station.

Identify what has been stolen, and make a note of the makes, models, and serial numbers or any identifying marks. Don’t touch anything in case you destroy valuable evidence. The police will come to inspect the scene and may interview your neighbours later on. You will be given a crime reference number. 

Try to get your home secured as quickly as you can, including window and door locks.  Make arrangements to have repairs made to any immediate damage that has been done. Investigate more long term security measures. Free advice is available from your local police station or neighbourhood policing team. If any important documents have been taken, you should notify banks, government departments and any other organisations know. Check your bank cards, cheque books, passports, benefit books, mobile phones, birth certificates and driving licences. If you are covered with home insurance, you need to get a crime reference number from the police in order to make a claim. You may be entitled to some financial help to replace stolen goods. Get in touch with Victim Support who can give you both practical and emotional assistance.

Emotional help for victims of burglary

The national charity Victim Support provides both practical and emotional support to victims of burglary. Although victim support charities usually cannot provide financial help with home security equipment themselves, they can refer elderly and disabled victims to other charities like Help the Aged, who may be able to offer assistance.  All volunteers at victim support are fully trained counsellors, many of whom have been victims of crime themselves. The organisation has been helping people for over 35 years.