Burglary is one of the most common types of crime.
Around half a million burglaries take place in England and Wales each year and, although incidents have thankfully been decreasing in recent years, it remains a serious and very common crime that affects huge numbers of people.
Burglaries can happen in many different ways. You may have been away from home at the time, maybe someone tricked their way into your house, or perhaps you were busy or asleep when they broke in. It’s also worth remembering that burglary isn't always a one-off event – some people may have been burgled several times or may be suffering other crimes as well, such as harassment or hate crimes.
The repercussions of burglary
How you react to being burgled will vary from person to person. Even if nothing has been stolen, most people are upset just at the thought that a stranger has been in their home. Some people blame themselves if they forgot to secure a window or door, or if they were tricked by the burglar, but only the burglar is at fault. Some people don't feel secure in their home any more after a burglary.
Children in particular can be very frightened and may need reassurance, even if they don’t talk much about what’s happened. Not all stolen goods are replaceable and some people may lose items of significant sentimental and personal value – this can be seriously distressing.
If this has happened to you and you need someone to talk to, please contact us. We also welcome calls via text relay.
How to protect your home from burglars
- Doors and windows are easy entrance points for a burglar, so it’s very important to make these locked and secure; deadlocks and chains are a good start and don’t leave your keys in the lock.
- When you’re out at night or away on holiday having lights on is a great idea; low cost timers that will switch your lights on and off give the impression that you’re at home and deter burglars.
- Make sure valuables and keys are kept away from windows and doors and aren’t visible from the outside.
- Having security lighting on all of your property can help keep burglars away and can be fixed (to be on all night) or come on only when movement is detected.
- Greenery adds to the charm of our homes but also acts as a shield for a burglar - so keep hedges trimmed back.
- Don’t share your holiday plans publicly on social media and if you do go away, ask a trusted neighbour or friend to keep an eye on your property.
- Lock side gates and any sheds or garages on your property.
In the event of flooding
If you have to leave your home due to flooding, there are a number of ways you can best protect your home from looting.
Remember: It’s likely you won’t have access to electricity so security alarms and lights won’t work. Planning is key to protection, so if you can, prepare in advance if you know your property is at risk of being flooded and you may have to leave.
- Prepare a ‘go bag’ which you can take with you if you need to leave. This should include keys, jewellery, important documents and medication.
- Keep important paper documents (insurance information, passports etc) in a watertight folder – keep them with you if possible.
- Ensure all windows and doors are secured and locked where possible.
- Turn on a battery powered radio at low volume to give the impression you are at home.
- Where possible, draw your curtains.
- Secure any tools (eg shovels in the shed) so they can’t be used to facilitate forced entry.
- If you've got fragile windows, cover them with anti-shatter protective film which make the glass harder to break.
- Unplug telephones before you leave as once the phone service is restored and before the home is habitable looters may call to check if you are home.
- Take photographs and note serial numbers of valuables you are forced to leave behind.
- Stay tuned to the environment agency website and social media sites for local and up to date information.
Most importantly: Don’t put yourself in danger. Your safety is more important than your possessions.
What to do after a burglary
There are some things you can do after a burglary to help reduce the effects of the crime and to improve your home security:
- Try to get your home secured as quickly as possible. If you are in rented housing, tell your landlord about any repairs you need. If you own your home, you will need to make your own arrangements. We may be able to help, for example by assisting with repairs to damaged property, so get in touch.
- Look into ways of making your home more secure for the future. Some security measures can be expensive, but there are other things you can do that cost much less, such as leaving lights or a radio on when you go out and checking that all doors and windows are properly closed and locked. Your local police station or neighbourhood policing teams may be able to arrange for someone to give you home security advice.
- To reduce the likelihood of this happening again, we can help you to get in touch with agencies that can help you.
- If important documents have been stolen, you will also need to let banks, government departments and other organisations know. Things to check for include bank cards, cheque books, passports, benefit books, mobile phones, birth certificates and driving licences. It's particularly important to tell banks and building societies quickly so that they can prevent fraud and further theft.
- If you have home insurance and want to make a claim, you will need a crime reference number from the police.
Get in touch: we can help
There are often so many things to do following a burglary that it can help to talk to someone that you don’t know about what’s happened. At Victim Support we can help you to consider the next steps and plan the things that need doing.
How our volunteers help
- Help you to cope with the effects of the burglary and to think about the next steps.
- Give practical help to fill out forms, deal with insurance and help you to cancel payment cards, record stolen items and replace stolen documents.
- Help you to get advice about security systems, locks and repairs.
- Support you and other members of your family if necessary.
- Help you get in touch with other organisations that can help if there are problems we can’t deal with.
- Help you to deal with other agencies, such as the police or housing department.
- As well as giving you information about the police and court procedures, our specially trained supporters can go with you to the police station and to court if needed.
- We can also liaise with other organisations on your behalf if you want us to, and put you in touch with other sources of practical help, such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.