What to do if you’ve been burgled

Becoming a victim of a burglary is everyone’s nightmare. One thing that can make it a little less traumatic is knowing how to react. Read our step-by-step on what to do if you get burgled.

1. Call the police immediately

If you think the burglar has cut and run, call 101 – the police non-emergency number. If you believe the intruder is still in the property then call 999 and get to a safe place immediately. Do not put yourself in danger by confronting the burglar.

If there has been significant disruption to your home, ask the police what – if anything – you can clean or tidy before they arrive. In some cases, the police may want to send a Crime Scene Investigator to examine your home first, so it’s important not to tamper with potential evidence.

Don’t forget to get a crime reference number from the police. This will come in handy for when you make your contents insurance claim.

2. Do your own detective work 

You’d be surprised how difficult it can be to identify everything that is missing. The big ticket items such as laptops and TVs will be obvious, but you may need to think carefully about smaller items that you don’t use as often, such as jewellery.

While it’s important not to tamper with any potential evidence, treat your home like a crime scene – you are the best person to notice if something has been moved, which could lead to an incriminating fingerprint.

Make an inventory of what is missing and compile any evidence you have regarding the items that have been taken, such as receipts, photos or valuations, as this will help an insurance claim.

If the thief has taken a phone or laptop, it could be possible to track down using location software such as Apple’s Find My Phone, or Google’s Find My Device. Share this information with the police and let them take it from there.

It’s also wise to check in with your neighbours to see if they saw anything suspicious, and to alert them to the incident so they can check their own home security.

3. Prevent any further damage

There are several basic tasks you can undertake to ensure the rogues who have stolen your belongings do not cause further damage.

If any of your bank cards have been taken, call your bank immediately to cancel them and let them know what has happened.

If any mobile devices have been taken, get in touch with your service provider to limit any unwanted calls and charges, or to deactivate your device completely. Change passwords to emails, social networks and sites that may contain personal information, especially banking apps.

If your passport or driving licence is missing, you must inform the passport office and DVLA at the earliest opportunity.

4. Contact your insurer within 24 hours

It may seem like you need time to get back on your feet after your home has been targeted, but it is important to act quickly in the aftermath of a break-in.

If you have home contents insurance, it’s likely that you need to contact your insurer within 24 hours of the incident. Explain the situation in detail and provide your crime reference number.

It helps to check your policy beforehand so that you know exactly what you are entitled to and what information your insurer will need to assist you in making a swift and efficient claim.

5. Consider your home security strategy

According to Police UK, homes without proper security are 5 times more likely to be burgled than those with simple home security measures.

A few basic steps can make a big difference to keeping your home and personal belongings safe, including locking all doors and windows whenever you leave the house and keeping all keys out of sight.

Police UK also recommend installing good outside lighting, encouraging neighbourhood watch, setting indoor lights to come on with a timer, ensuring all gates into your property are secure, and much more. If you want to know what else, check out their website here.

If you feel you want a more effective way of protecting your home, consider investing in a visual burglar alarm. We know what you are thinking, they are expensive. But not all are. Here at Boundary, we are in the throes of creating an affordable, accessible smart home intruder alarm that assures the secure protection of your home.

6. Finally, look after yourself!

Being burgled is an awful experience. It can be dreadful knowing that a stranger has rifled through your personal belongings and has stolen things that could be sentimental or that you have worked hard for.

According to an academic paper from the University of Sheffield, approximately 80% of victims report being emotionally affected by a burglary, with 60% reporting anger. It was found that 40% suffered from shock and 29% reported experience feelings of fear.

Similar to physical injuries following violent crime, a greater proportion of burglary victims are emotionally affected than actually experience physical damage to their premises.

If you find yourself a target, look after yourself. Reach out to a friend or family member for support, and don’t blame yourself or be afraid to get help. If you feel you need it, call Victim Support, a charity that provides specialist advice and support to victims or witnesses of a crime. Their free support line is 0808 168 9111.