Whether you’re a landlord, homeowner or renter, there are few things more traumatic than discovering that your home or business has been broken into. We all hope it won’t happen to us, but knowing what to do if the worst should happen can help you stay calm and feel more in control.
Understanding the steps you should take and acting quickly could also limit the impact of a burglary, both emotionally and financially. No-one should feel unsafe in their home, and in reality the chances of becoming a victim of burglary are still relatively low. If you are unlucky enough to become a victim of burglary though this is your guide to what to do.
What to do immediately
The very first thing to remember is that you should never put yourself at risk. If you are at all unsure as to whether a burglar is still on-site then call the police on 999. Don’t try to be a hero.
If you are certain the burglars have left then you can use the non-emergency 101 number to contact your local police. Always listen to what the police tell you to do and do whatever they advise. Our guide is designed to complement their advice, not replace it.
Preserve the Scene
One of the first things that the police should tell you is what they would like you to do with the scene. This may vary depending on the type of property or break-in. They will let you know whether a Crime Scene Investigator will be attending and therefore whether you should preserve the scene.
If you are unsure, and it doesn’t present a further security risk, then leave the scene as undisturbed as possible. This maximises the chances of the police finding evidence at the scene that could help to secure a conviction. Similarly providing them with the serial numbers of stolen items can improve the chances of them being recovered.
Contact Your Bank and Other Organisations
You should report any personal documents stolen as soon as you can. This includes credit and debit cards, driving licences and passports. Whether you need to call the bank to cancel your credit or debit card or inform the DVLA of a stolen licence, it is better to do this sooner rather than later. Passports and driving licences can now both be reported as stolen online.
Keep Hold of Your Crime Number
When the police arrive, they will take a statement from you. This will detail exactly what happened and what was taken. They may also speak to neighbours or other people in the area who might be witnesses. If you have CCTV installed you should let the police know.
Occasionally the police may not come out to see you personally, however whether they speak to you face-to-face or not, you will be given a crime reference number. It is important that you keep this in a safe place as your insurers will need it.
For advice on general burglary prevention the Police.UK site has some great tips.
Contact your insurers
You should already have an idea of what has been stolen as you will have told the police. Before you call your insurers though, go through your home, room by room, to check for any damage and missing items. Taking photos of damage can also support your claim.
All your insurer’s claims number as soon as possible – most insurers will require that you contact them within 24 hours of a burglary. Having your policy number to hand if possible, and you’ll definitely need the crime reference number that the police gave you.
Check with insurers whether your policy covers more than just contents, for example you may be able to claim for any repairs necessary. You can also double-check what additional evidence you will need to make a claim, such as receipts.
Making yourself feel safe again
It’s natural that you may feel slightly more unsafe in your home following a burglary. So, as well as fixing any damage done by the intruder, consider looking at ways that you can upgrade your security at the same time. We’ve put this post burglary security advice together with Locksmith Nottingham.
Get professional advice and fix compromised locks
You should definitely consider contacting a local locksmith. Not only will they be able to repair damage to any locks, they will also be able to change locks if you have had keys stolen. Many locksmiths will be happy to carry out a free security audit for you and suggest ways in which you can upgrade the security measures you have in place.
Review your security for any vulnerabilities
As many standard locks are vulnerable to snapping or brute force attacks, it is worth considering upgrading to anti snap locks, or even Ultion ant snap locks that resist snapping and brute force. A good locksmith will advise about other potential improvements like anti lift or anti jemmy hinges.
If you don’t already have security lights fitted, these can help you feel more secure. Burglars are generally opportunists, and the presence of automatic lighting is frequently enough to put them off. Other visible security measures such as alarms or CCTV cameras, even if only dummy versions, also have a strong deterrent effect.
Think about the latest security technology
Finally, if you’re technologically minded, talk to your locksmith about how smart home technology, such as smart locks and remotely operated lighting can help to make your home more secure.
If you don’t want, or don’t have the budget, for really hi tech systems, there are relatively affordable options worth considering. The biggest growth in affordable home security technology has been video doorbells and security lights; e.g. firms like ring produce easy to fit products that allow you to see who is at the door or outside your property, whether you are home or not, via an app. You can even set off audible alarms or talk to would be intruders to ward them off using your smartphone!
Look after yourself
Don’t lose sight of the emotional stress that a burglary can cause. Sorting out the practical aspects of having your home broken into may take your mind off the incident for a while, but you will undoubtedly feel upset and stressed. In some cases, this may not fully hit you until a few days after the event.
If you are feeling stressed or frightened, make sure you contact Victim Support, who have the experience and skills to support you after you’ve been the victim of any sort of crime. They will be able to give you practical assistance and support to make sure you can carry on living your normal life again in no time.
As we said initially, despite what you see in the papers and online, being a victim of crime is still relatively rare. If it does happen to you however, following our advice can make the experience as stress-free as possible.