Burglary is a common crime that affects thousands of people each year. It can vary from a shed break-in to a complete ransack of your home.
The help you’ll need will depend on what’s happened and how it has affected you.
You may just need practical support – for example to help claim on your insurance or to get locks changed. Or you may be left feeling vulnerable and anxious by the thought of someone being in your house. You may no longer feel safe in your own home.
Whatever your circumstances, practical help and emotional support is available.
You may also be affected by:
How it can affect you
Even if nothing has been taken, the impact of a burglary can be profound on the victim. The thought of someone breaking into your home and stealing from you is frightening and intimidating.
You may wonder if you have been especially targeted, or if someone has been watching your comings and goings. You may be scared that it will happen again, particularly if it happened when you were in your home.
For some people, not just older or vulnerable people, the impact can be devastating, leading to a complete loss of confidence and security. Not feeling safe in one’s own home is a terrible feeling.
Some people blame themselves if they have been burgled – for example, because they forgot to lock a window – but the victim is never to blame. We all have a right to live without fear of someone stealing our things – regardless of whether or not we leave our windows unlocked.
There is also the inconvenience of having to deal with insurance claims, cleaning up and repairing any damage that has been done.
Not all items that are stolen can be easily replaced, even if they have been covered by insurance. The loss of personal or sentimental possessions can leave people feeling very distressed.
It is normal to feel this way, and you are not alone. We can help.
It can be easy to overlook the impact of burglary on children. Even if the financial impact of the burglary is minimal or nothing has been taken, children may need lots of reassurance that ‘bad people’ won’t break into their homes again. Even if your child doesn’t say much about what has happened, they may still be feeling worried or insecure.
What you can do
After your home has been burgled, try to get it secured again as soon as possible. If you rent your home, tell your landlord straight away about any repairs you need. If you own your home, you will need to sort out the repairs yourself. If you have home insurance, your insurer will be able to help.
Once everything has been secured and tidied up, do some research about how you can make your home more secure in future – see the Prevention section.
If important documents have been stolen – such as your passport – you will need to let people know. Things you should check for are your bank cards, cheque books, passports, benefit books, mobile phones, birth certificates and driving licence.
Make sure you cancel any missing cards and remotely disable your smartphone, especially if it has apps on it that give you access to your banking or other details.
To claim on insurance you will need to have reported the crime to the police and got a crime reference number from them.
How to report it
In an emergency: dial 999
An emergency is when a crime is being committed or has just been witnessed, there is a risk of injury, or a risk of serious damage to property.
In a non-emergency: dial 101
Use this number to report a non-emergency incident or make a general inquiry.
Contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Crimestoppers is a charity which is entirely independent of police and never share details with police of people who have got in touch.
Find help and support
If you have been a victim of crime, don’t suffer in silence. Even if you don’t want to report it to the police, tell a trusted friend or family member about it and use them for support. You can also search our directory to find help and support to help you cope and recover from what’s happened.
What happens when you report burglary to the police
If you are burgled, report it to the police as soon as possible so they have a better chance of catching the thief.
When you make a report, the police will assess the circumstances over the phone, and if appropriate, arrange for an officer to attend the scene of the burglary. If you are a vulnerable victim and need immediate assistance, the police will treat this as a priority.
If you think the burglar is still in your house, or nearby, the police will send an officer to you immediately. Don't go in the property if you think the burglar is still there - this could be dangerous. Most possessions can be replaced - you can't!
If you have been away for a long time - on holiday, for example - and you return to find that you have been burgled, you should still report this to the police as soon as you find out about it.
When the officer comes to your home, they will try and piece together what has happened, and speak to witnesses and neighbours if appropriate. They'll only need a statement from you at this stage if you witnessed the burglary. They may come and take a statement from you at a later date, if someone is arrested, in order to get evidence of your property having been stolen.
They will check for any CCTV that might help to identify the burglar, and they will check for signs of forensic evidence, such as blood, hair, clothing, fingerprints and footprints. If signs of forensic evidence are found, a forensics expert will be asked to look at these more closely. If forensics are unable to come straight away, the police officer will explain to you how to secure your property and preserve any evidence.
Will the burglar be caught?
The police should keep you updated on the progress of your investigation, but it is unfortunately rare that burglars are traced. Police will let you know if they have exhausted all inquiries, but they may also reopen the investigation at any time if they get new information or evidence. Sometimes a burglar that is arrested for another offence will also plead guilty to burgling your home.