We hope it never happens to you, but if it does, remembering just a few tips from this article might help you keep your cool, in a very emotionally stressful situation. After a burglary is discovered, the most obvious first phone call is usually to the police, and then to your spouse or housemate. Quite often we’re the third phone call people make, as people understandably need to feel reassured that the property is safe again. Here we’re offering you some burglary advice when you need it most.
I recently carried out a security survey at a Leicestershire home, and the couple kept explaining to me how difficult they found the whole process, not knowing who to turn to, or what to do. I promised them I would publish something to help others in the same situation.
Usually we’re first on the scene, so it has given us a lot of experience in what to expect, and how best to deal with it. I’d like to share with you a few specific actions that you need to follow to help with the process.
- Call the police on 101, and give them the details of the incident. They will give you a crime reference number, you need to keep this safe.
- Don’t touch anything directly affected by the burglar. If an item is presenting a danger to you, or others, then put on a clean glove and handle the item using the edges, or is possible use an implement to move it. Fingerprints are made up of the oily substance of our skin, and they are very fragile, so even wearing gloves can smudge a perfectly precise print and destroy evidence. Keep in mind that unless a burglary is in progress, police officers will not attend immediately (if at all). The scientific support unit will be the ones looking for evidence around the scene, and they can sometimes take 24 hours to visit your home. A community support office will usually come and visit to discuss the details of the break in, and offer some practical security advice.
- Take photographs with your smartphone. If you have got to move things, take multiple pictures first as this can offer a great tool when talking to the police and your insurance company.
- Get your home secured. In very rare cases, we have found that the burglars revisit your home to collect items they couldn’t carry / transport during the first visit. Usually however, they will not return, and so the security of the property if for your peace of mind. At this point, you’re probably feeling quite vulnerable and looking for all the reassurance you can get to make you feel safe. This is our role in the process, and our team are very experienced in these situations, offering a sympathetic approach to getting things sorted out.
- The next step is to start methodically working your way around the house, starting with any valuable assets, to identify what has gone missing. Make a list of items, and if you find them in another room then cross them off. It’s not uncommon for thieves to drop items as they’re running away, so remember to include the garden in your search.
- It’s not uncommon for homeowners to need a few nights away from the house, often with Parents or Grandparents. This gives you some time to get over the emotional shock of the situation, allowing you to deal with the whole process in a more practical manner.
- It’s important to contact your insurance company within 24 hours, as they are often looking for any excuse not to pay out. At this point, they’ll need to know the basics of the incident, and will need the crime reference number given to you when you first reported the incident to the police. Don’t feel pressured into letting the insurance company send their own tradesmen to repair the damage or replace your locks. The insurance company are always looking for the cheapest option, and generally aren’t interested in the poor workmanship. Use people you trust and forward their invoices to the insurance company to be reimbursed.
- Check to see if any bank cards, cheque books, passports and driving licenses have been stolen. If they have, then it’s time to cancel them so they can’t be used maliciously.
- Whilst we’re checking on things, have a quick check on your spare car keys. We’ve seen some very unlucky cases where the keys had been stolen, and the burglars returned during the night to take the cars.
- Finally, it’s a good time to improve your security so you diminish the possibility of having to go through all of this again. You can book a security survey online at a time to suit yourself, and we can give you a full assessment of your property, along with the associated costs for the various works to be carried out. Rossells are in a unique position, of being able to offer specific advice for all areas of security on your property. We offer fully accredited security services and are members of both the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA), and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).
After publishing this article, we have been asked for a commercial property version, allowing businesses to put together policies and procedure guides for staff in the event of a burglary. We will publish this shortly.