Such a shocking statistic makes it clear that, now more than ever, we need to understand what burglary is, how it happens, how to prevent it and what to do if you are a victim of burglary.
Previously we’ve given detailed advice for how to prevent residential and commercial burglaries, as well as looked at the most frequent types of burglary to affect London businesses.
In this article, we’re going to explain the steps you should take immediately after a burglary has taken place. Ensuring that you take the necessary actions following a burglary will improve the chances that the perpetrators are caught and that your belongings are returned.
Burglary is an often-misunderstood crime, and there are many misconceptions surrounding burglary and burglars. A poor understanding of this crime can increase the risk that your property is targeted. As such, before we look at what to do after a burglary takes place, we’re going to dispel some of these myths.
1 – Most Burglaries Do Not Happen at Night
Although the stereotypical image of a burglar is of someone stealthily sneaking around during the night, most burglaries do not happen at night-time. In fact, the majority of burglaries take place between 10.00AM and 3.00PM since many houses are unoccupied during these times.
2 – Most Burglars Are Not after Large Physical Belongings
It’s difficult to smuggle large items such a televisions, bikes and sound systems out of your house unnoticed. In order to reduce their chances of being caught, today’s burglars are more likely to target smaller items such as laptops, smartphones, car keys and even personal identity data.
3 – Most Burglars Do Not Carry Equipment
Burglars are experts at breaking into properties unnoticed. Carrying around equipment – such as a ladder, wire cutters, a crowbar, etc. – will draw unwanted attention. As such, burglars are much more likely to choose properties which can be accessed without tools or to use tools left in sheds or gardens (which is why you should always keep these under lock and key).
4 – Most Burglaries Are Committed by People Living Nearby
Although many people believe that burglars typically commit their crimes in neighbourhoods they don’t live in, this is not actually the case. As scary as it is, most criminals choose to target properties within a two-mile radius of their own home. This is because they are more familiar with the area, are able to get back to the safety of their own home quickly and are able to easily monitor people in order to ascertain their schedules.
5 – Three out of 10 Burglaries Take Place When Someone Is Home
Just over a quarter of burglaries take place when someone is in their house. This may be because the burglar doesn’t realise someone is in – or simply because they don’t care. For this reason, it’s important that you ensure that your property is properly secured at all times – including when you’re at home.
Discovering you’ve been burgled can be terrifying and devastating. However, it’s important that, as soon as you realise that you’ve been burgled, you act appropriately. This will help keep you safe and will increase the chances of getting your belongings back as well as of bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Here’s what you should do.
1 – Phone the Police
The first thing you should do after discovering a burglary is phone the police. If the crime has already taken place, call 101. This is the police’s non-emergency line. The operator will be able to guide you through what you need to do next, and they will issue you with a crime reference number (which you should write down for insurance purposes).
If you discover a burglary in action, vacate the property, stay calm and call 999 as soon as possible.
2 – Don’t Touch Anything
After discovering a burglary, there will be a strong temptation to go through your things in order to find out what’s missing. It’s important that you avoid this temptation. In order to preserve evidence, you should leave everything exactly as you found it. Doing so may be the difference between getting your belongings back or not.
You should take photographs of any damage done and of the places where items have gone missing. These may be helpful to your insurer.
Only once the police have collected evidence and left the scene should you begin tidying up.
If you have a personal CCTV system, retrieve the footage and make multiple copies.
3 – Cancel Missing Credit Cards and Mobile Contracts
If you believe that any credit or debit cards (or chequebooks) have gone missing, call your bank or credit card company as soon as you can. Your provider will be able to cancel and re-allocate missing cards which will prevent the burglar from withdrawing money from your account.
If you use online banking, you will also need to alert your provider if any smartphones, laptops or computers have gone missing.
Likewise, if your mobile phone has been stolen, call your provider so that they can cancel your contract or block activity on your device.
4 – Check If Any Keys Are Missing
A burglar may steal your car keys, house keys and even keys to another property. Check that all of your keys are accounted for (including those for windows). If the criminal has taken a set of house keys or keys to another property, change all of the locks affected. This will prevent you being the target of a secondary burglary.
If your passport or driving license is missing, inform the passport office and the DVLA respectively.
5 – Make an Inventory
Collect any evidence you have about the items that have been stolen. This includes receipts, photographs and valuations. These can help show your insurer exactly what has gone missing and will make it easier to calculate how much your claim is worth. Make sure that you don’t dispose of anything that could help you when your insurer conducts their inspection.
6 – Look after Yourself
Being targeted by a burglar can be a traumatic experience. Following the incident, you may wish to stay at another property temporarily. This could be a friend’s or family member’s house – or a hotel. You may also experience increased anxiety or panic. If so, you may want to consider contacting a counselling service. Victim Support is an independent charity that provides practical and emotional support for victims of crime. You can contact them for free on 0808 1689 111.
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