There is no question that being burgled leaves people feeling angry, violated and helpless. It is also disturbing to note that houses may be burgled again. This is because thieves may be enticed to re-offend at residences that have yielded a good result for them before (and where stolen items may have been replaced with new ones).
If you’ve been the victim of a burglary, it’s important to take quick action to protect yourself, your family and your property from being targeted again. Here are our seven tips to consider after a burglary:
- Call the Police
This may sound obvious and common sense but if you get home and it looks like you have been burgled, try to stay calm. There may be a chance the burglar is still inside so if you hear any noises or suspect the burglar is still inside, do not confront the offender but call triple zero (000) immediately. If you feel it is safe to enter your home, try not to touch anything as you could destroy valuable evidence. Leave things the way you found them and call the police assistance line to lodge a victim’s report. You’ll also be assigned a police reference number that you can use for insurance purposes. Refer to this booklet issued by the NSW Police which may be a useful resource: http://www.police.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/294146/victims-of-crime-booklet.pdf
- Secure your home again
After the police have attended and you have determined where the burglar entered your house, you need to re-secure it as quickly as possible. If a door or window has been damaged, make sure you have it repaired immediately and if the burglar had stolen your keys, make sure you get a locksmith to change the locks urgently.
- Determine what’s missing
Carry out a thorough check of your home to find out what was stolen. This could include seemingly-harmless items, such as a credit card bill, which can be used to steal your identity. It is important to report any missing mail to the police immediately. Likewise, check whether spare keys to your home or car are missing, in addition to other valuables. If electronic devices such as a tablet or smartphone have been stolen, check the finder apps on linked devices, which may help to locate the item’s whereabouts. Also make sure you change your passwords and notify your bank and mobile phone carrier.
- Submit insurance claims
Check your insurance policy to see what you’re entitled to claim after a burglary. While you may not think an item is high enough in value to make a claim, there could be provisions to include these items as part of your claim. As you may need to provide proof of ownership of your valuable items, it is worth making a habit of filing away receipts,product serial numbers, valuations, copies of your passport and credit card numbers to assist if these items are ever stolen or missing. Likewise, photographs of the home before the break-in may be used as evidence for insurance purposes or help with determining extent of repairs required for the home. Items that are valuable or sentimental, such as jewellery, should be noted separately on your insurance policy.
- Conduct a full security audit
Conduct a security audit of your home to check whether there are other ways to get into your property, like climbing a fence or onto a balcony leading to doors and windows. Take the necessary steps to make these entry points less accessible to limit the chances of burglars gaining entry. ADT Security has listed a 5 step guide to making your home more secure here.
- Seek help
It is perfectly normal to feel traumatised after a burglary, even if no-one was hurt. Seeking help to address the emotional fallout or sleeplessness that might follow an incident is important. Taking the necessary steps to help you and others in the household move on from the emotional aftermath may include counselling or reaching out for support to family and close friends.
- Take preventative measures
Being extra vigilant about the risk of a break-in will help protect against future break-ins. Keep these extra tips in mind:
- Hide valuable items like watches and jewellery in a hard to find place
- Keep car keys away from the front door to minimise the chance of a quick getaway
- Undertake a full home security audit every six months
- Consider security devices such as home alarm systems, preferably one that is monitored and has been installed by a professional
- Get to know your neighbours so you can look out for each other
- Keep doors and windows locked at all times, even when you’re home
- Don’t advertise new purchases by leaving packaging on the street; these boxes alert burglars to valuables worth stealing.