If you’ve just been the victim of a burglary, you have a lot to think about.
You may be emotionally shaken by the incident, as well as wondering what to do about the crime and how to prevent something like it from happening again. The number of steps you need to take in the wake of being burgled can seem like a daunting challenge by itself. This checklist will help you review what you need to do and how you can go about protecting yourself and your family.
Quite apart from the monetary value of stolen goods, the emotional impact of a burglary can be severe. In fact, surveys show that more victims say they have been emotionally affected by burglaries than say they have been financially affected. Victims of a January 2017 burglary in Cambridge felt unsafe in their home after such a crime: “I don’t like being here,” one said of her own house. You may feel depressed about your loss or anxious about the risk of future burglaries. If you have children, you may be worried about their safety — and, of course, they may be frightened as well.
Dealing with the emotional impact of a burglary
We all respond to shocking and frightening events in our own ways, and what works for you to deal with the stress of having your home broken into may be different from what helps someone else. If you’re struggling with the effects, charities like Victim Support can offer counselling and practical assistance. However, there are some things you can do that not only need to be done, but can help you feel more secure. Taking care of your home’s security in the wake of a burglary can be the first step in recovering from the shock.
As soon as you find out that you’ve been the victim of a break-in, there are some things you need to do. You may feel panicked or upset, but the quicker you get these tasks done the better off you’ll be in the long run. Take them one at a time, getting help from friends or family if you need to.
Step 1 – Call the Police
As soon as you discover the burglary, notify the authorities. If you’re not in any danger, they may take a little longer to respond, so making your call as quickly as possible is a must. The sooner you call, the better a chance you have of them catching the culprit and getting your belongings back. Don’t go into too much detail about the crime here; officers will collect this all later, either by visiting the scene of the crime or by taking a statement from you at the station.
Step 2 – Write Everything Down
We all like to think that our minds and memories function perfectly in a crisis, but the reality is quite different. In stressful situations, elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can actually interfere with the brain’s ability to create new memories. As a result, even things you notice clearly during a stressful moment can be very difficult to remember. To create a clear record of what happened, you’ll want to make some notes. Write down the time you left, the time you returned and what you think is missing. If you got a look at the burglar, write down everything you saw immediately. Your notes will be very helpful in the investigation.
Step 3 – Take Pictures
Even better than written notes are visual clues that can help you, law enforcement officers and your insurer. Take photos of every place from which something was taken, as well as wherever the thieves may have gained entrance. If there was damage to doors, fences, locks or other parts of your home, take clear photographs of this as well. However, don’t touch or move anything until you are told that it’s OK to do so; the authorities will want the scene undisturbed for their investigation.
Step 4 – File a Police Report
Once officers arrive and you’ve told them what happened, or if they have decided they don’t need to send anyone, they’ll tell you how to file a report. The report is the official record of the crime, and you’ll want to make sure it’s filed as quickly as possible. You may have to file in person at a station, or it may be possible to file online. Once you’re done, you should be given a report number and other details, which will be important later on in this process.
Step 5 – Contact Your Insurer
You’ll need information from the report to file an insurance claim, so wait until you have it to contact your insurer. In addition to the information from the report, you may want to find old photographs of your home to show where the stolen goods were before the crime. You may also be asked to provide evidence of items’ value, such as receipts or other documents. The more evidence you can provide for your insurance claim, the easier the process will be.
Practical Checklist – Expanded
Once you’ve dealt with the immediate tasks, you’ll need to go through the list of stolen items to see if there’s anything specific you need to deal with. Some stolen items, such as identity documents or mobile devices, can cause extra complications unless you take steps to prevent them. This list covers some of the most commonly stolen items and what you’ll need to do to protect yourself.
Step 1 – Keys
If your keys have been stolen, you’ll need to change your locks, especially since the burglar definitely knows where you live. If you had keys to other buildings, such as work keys or keys to others’ homes, notify the owners as well. They may not have to change their locks, but they need to know about the possibility.
Step 2 – Car Keys
Losing your car keys doesn’t have to mean having your car stolen, particularly if you own a more recent model of car. Your garage can reprogram electronic locks to a new code, and your insurer may be able to compensate your for the expense. Older cars may not have this feature, so talk to your mechanic about other ways to reduce the risk of having your car stolen.
Step 3 – Driving Licence
The loss of your driving licence could keep you off the road until you get a replacement. You can order one directly from the DVLA or fill out a request form at most Post Offices.
Step 4 – Credit and Debit Cards
If your credit or debit cards have been stolen, contact your bank or card issuer as soon as possible. If possible, contact them both by telephone and in writing in order to leave a paper record of the contact. Either way, record the time of your telephone call: it could come in handy later on if fraudulent purchases or withdrawals are made with your card. If you need cash in the interim, you should be able to draw it out in person at your bank; ask them what kind of proof of identity you will need to present.
Step 5 – Avoiding Card Fraud
When replacing your cards, remember that security precautions are more important than ever. Debit or credit cards in the hands of criminals can be a problem, but if they have access to your PIN they’ll be able to do even greater damage. Neither your card issuer nor law enforcement will ever ask you to tell them your PIN — if someone does, report it at once. Destroy your old cards if you still have some of them; don’t give them to anyone else. Your bank will never ask to collect them.
Step 6 – Cheque Books or Savings Books
Like lost cards, stolen account paperwork should be reported to the bank or organisation that issued it immediately. They will be able to arrange a replacement for you.
Step 7 – Pension and Allowance Books
Notify the Department for Work and Pensions (or other issuing body) if your pension documents are taken. They will issue you a replacement and tell you what you need to do until the replacements arrive. You may also need to notify the post office you receive payments through.
Step 8 – Cheques or Money Orders
If you’ve lost cheques or money orders made out to you, notify the issuer at once so they can cancel and reissue them. In the case of personal cheques, the person who wrote them will be able to ask their bank to stop payment. If the thieves have taken cheques you wrote yourself, let your bank know so that they can stop payment. It will be helpful if you have access to the cheque numbers.
Step 9 – Passports and Travel Documents
Passports are a popular target for thieves. If your British passport has been taken, include it in your report and let the issuing office know so they can replace it. You can even apply for a new passport online. If you’ve lost a foreign passport, apply to the embassy or consulate of the issuing country for a replacement.
Step 10 – Travel Passes and Tickets
Travel tickets, bus passes and railcards can often be replaced or refunded by the issuing company. Contact them either by telephone or in person at the station where you bought them.
Step 11 – Student ID
Your school, college or university will replace your student ID; notify them as soon as possible to avoid delays.
Step 12 – Library Cards
Library cards might seem like a low priority, but you should notify the library that your card has been stolen to avoid being charged for items checked out in your name but never returned.
Step 13 – Medication
Prescription drugs sometimes have significant resale value, which can make them a tempting target for criminals. Include the loss of any prescription drugs in your report; these can be potentially hazardous, so the authorities will want to know. If you need your medication and are running low, contact your GP or chemist to get your prescriptions refilled.
Step 14 – Mobile Phones and Devices
Let your phone service provider know if you’ve had your phone stolen so that they can block your account. If you know your device’s identification number, include it in the crime report to help in identifying it if it is found; in the meantime, phone insurance may cover the cost of a replacement. To find your IMEI (identification number), dial *#06#. If you have a tracking application on your mobile device, include the fact in your report, but don’t follow it up yourself; you might be exposing yourself to a potentially dangerous encounter with criminals. Leave the task of finding your phone to professionals.
Much of the effort and expense of dealing with a burglary comes from having to replace valuable documents or small items left in insecure locations. A home safe can help reduce the risk of losing your valuables to burglary. The type of secure storage you’ll choose will depend on what you want to store in it; options range from permanently installed underfloor safes to specialist jewellery safes. Here are some guidelines to help you decide on the right choice for you.
|Burg-Wachter CL40EFS Combi Line Finger Scan Fire Safe||£585.60||Silver|
|Phoenix Titan II FS1282E Fire Security Safe||£226.80||Bronze|
|Burton Eurovault Aver 1E Police Approved Electronic Security Safe||£270.00||Silver|
|Chubbsafes Zeta 15K Eurograde 0 Key Locking Security Safe||£434.40||Gold|
|Phoenix Neso SS0202F Fingerprint Safe||£118.80||Bronze|
|Burton Consort Size 4E Security Digital Safe||£220.80||Bronze|
|Protector Premium 250E Small Electronic Security Safe||£124.80||Bronze|
|Securikey SFMV2FRZE-G Mini Vault Gold Digital Security Safe||£399.60||Silver|
|Burg-Wachter Karat MT26NS Eurograde 0 Safe||£997.20||Gold|
|Dudley Compact 5000 Security Cash Safe 00||£458.40||Bronze|
Phoenix Titan II FS1282E Fire Security Safe
Burton Aver S2 1E Eurovault
Phoenix Neso SS0202F Fingerprint Safe
Crime Rates in the UK
As much as we might worry about criminals breaking into our homes, the risk of burglary has actually declined in recent years. According to statistician
According to statistician John Flatley of the Office of National Statistics, domestic burglaries have declined 71% since 1995. Even in high-crime areas such as the red spots on this crime map, burglary has decreased relative to other crimes.
Part of the reason for this change is a simple, practical one: despite the fact that most households own a wide range of expensive electronics, the street resale value of these items has decreased as they have become more and more common. In a society where few people keep large sums of cash in their homes, a burglar who makes off with a laptop computer, mobile phone, game console or television is risking a prison sentence for a relatively small sum – not a tempting prospect for most.
In a society where few people keep large sums of cash in their homes, a burglar who makes off with a laptop computer, mobile phone, game console or television is risking a prison sentence for a relatively small sum – not a tempting prospect for most.
However, as the likelihood of getting valuable electronics or jewellery from a home has declined, other forms of crime have become more dangerous. Most thieves now concentrate on the possibility of identity theft, looking for passports, credit cards and other personal documents that can be used in online fraud.
Why buy a safe if domestic burglary is decreasing?
If burglary is decreasing nationwide, is secure storage in your home really necessary? With the danger of identity fraud and the potential expense of replacing vital documents, the answer is still yes. Even though the risk is lower than it once was, the consequences of a burglary can still be very severe.
Delaying an intruder
Many burglaries are opportunistic crimes: the criminal takes advantage of an easily accessible building to steal whatever they can take in a short period of time. The longer a burglar has to spend in the home, the likelier they are to simply leave before they get caught. This applies to external security, which is why features like door chains and security lights are effective, but it also applies to internal security.
A thief who would be willing to enter a house, take a passport from a drawer or a mobile phone from a table and leave again is unlikely to be willing to spend time trying to locate the key to a locked cabinet or the code to a security keypad, especially since the chance of success is low. Presenting a burglar with a difficult target makes the potential thief more likely to abandon it in favour of an easier opportunity.
Burglaries may be declining, but they’re far from the only threat to vital personal documents or fragile data storage media. Fire or flooding can be more devastating than any criminal, without even the chance that the culprit will be caught. Fire and water-resistant storage such as a home safe can protect your documents and devices from these sources of damage. Each will have a rating that tells you how long documents or data storage will be protected under these conditions.
Proactive steps to decrease repeat thefts
If you’ve been robbed, you may feel helpless. In fact, there are plenty of things you can do to protect your home against repeat break-ins. Some are additions to your home, while others are just small changes to your behaviour that can greatly reduce the risk of a burglary. Remember: criminals are looking for easy targets of opportunity, so anything you can do to make your home more of a challenge will help.
Step 1 – Lighting
Nothing scares a burglar off faster than the risk of being seen. Install motion-sensitive lights on the outside of your house to light up your garden or drive when someone approaches. If you’re going away for a long period, use a plug timer to switch lights on in the evening so that your house doesn’t appear as though no one is home. Adding a few lights to the dark corners of your garden will go a long way toward making it less accessible.
Step 2 – Meet Your Neighbours
It can be difficult to fit conversations with our neighbours into busy lives, but being on good terms with the people who live around you has more than just social benefits. Neighbours who know who does and doesn’t belong in a house or garden will be more willing to challenge intruders or report suspicious activity.
Step 3 – Make Some Noise
Burglars rely on stealth to get close to houses and find out whether they can get inside. Putting down gravel or shingle on your drive or in your garden will make this much more difficult; the sound of crunching footsteps will make most criminals think twice about their chances of getting away unnoticed.
Step 4 – Plan for Long Absences
If you’re going away for a holiday or for work, try not to make it obvious. In addition to setting up timers for your lights, ask a friend to come by and check on the house from time to time; it’ll be helpful to have a car in the driveway or someone moving around to deter unwanted interest. Don’t advertise your exact departure and return dates on public social media posts.
Step 5 – Alarms Real and Fake
Alarms and security cameras are both great deterrents to burglars, and if you can it’s well worth installing them. If they don’t fit into your budget, however, dummy alarms and can also be an effective deterrent. Opportunistic burglars looking for an easy mark usually won’t stop to check whether a camera or an alarm box is real.
Step 6 – Build Barriers
Walls and fences may not keep people out, but will increase the likelihood of intruders making noise and being spotted. Make sure that all your boundaries are protected by sturdy barriers, and that gates lock securely. Even a thorny hedge can be a formidable obstacle to an unwelcome visitor. Anti-climb paint on walls and fences acts as a further deterrent.
Step 7 – Dogs are a Deterrent
A dog can be an excellent guard against criminals. When we think of a guard dog, we tend to think of a muscular brute, but even a small dog can be very effective if it makes enough noise to alert the household or neighbours. A warning sign can give a burglar pause even if you don’t have a real dog to back it up.
Step 8 – Don’t Hide a Spare Key
Under the mat, in a flower pot, on top of the door frame or in one of those plastic rocks, a spare key is a gift to criminals. The very nature of the key makes it insecure – it has to be somewhere easy to remember, which means that it’s also somewhere easy to find. If you absolutely must hide a spare key to your house, put it in a locking key box with a security code.
We hope you’ll try putting a few of these simple tips into action. You’ll have greater peace of mind and a more secure home. For further advice on safes, key boxes or any of the other security products that we supply, please call our friendly experts for a discussion: 0800 567 7549.