What to do if you’ve been burgled

Being the victim of a burglary is an upsetting experience that can take years to get over. Although the pandemic saw burglary drop 30% during 2020, there were still some 268,000 offences for the year 2020/2021, according to the Office for National Statistics. So, what do you do if you come home to find you’ve been burgled? Here’s what you need to know.

Being the victim of a burglary is an upsetting experience that can take years to get over. Although the pandemic saw burglary drop 30% during 2020, there were still some 268,000 offences for the year 2020/2021, according to the Office for National Statistics. So, what do you do if you come home to find you’ve been burgled? Here’s what you need to know.

Chris King
Home insurance expert
6
minute read
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Posted 21 OCTOBER 2021

I’ve been burgled. What should I do?

If you’ve been burgled, your first step should be to contact the police on 101 to report the crime. If you think the burglar may still be on the premises – after making sure you’re safe and not in any danger – call 999 instead. Never confront the burglar.

The police will provide you with a crime number. Write this down, as your insurance provider will probably need it if you make a claim on your home insurance.

Take photos of any damage to doors, fences, locks or other entry points as this could help with the police investigation and potentially speed up the process if you make an insurance claim. The police may send a crime scene investigator to obtain any evidence from your property. Whatever you do, don’t tidy up until the police have been.

If any of your locks are damaged or keys are missing, call a locksmith and get these changed so that your property is secure. Emergency locksmiths can be extremely expensive, but your insurance provider may be able to help with the cost.

Make a list of what’s missing and contact your insurance provider as soon as possible. They’ll take note of the event and advise you on how to make a claim and what to expect going forward.

Check if your car keys or any spares have been taken. With some modern cars, the garage may be able to reprogram the locks. If they can’t, ask the police or a garage for advice on how to prevent your car being stolen at a later date. You might want to use a steering-wheel lock, for instance.

What should I do if my mobile phone’s been stolen?

If you’ve had a phone stolen, contact your service provider as they should be able to block your account.

Let the police know if you have mobile-phone tracking as this might help them find the thieves. But don’t try to track them down yourself as you could put yourself in danger.

What if important documents were stolen?

Burglars will often make off with important documents, such as your passport or driving licence.

If your passport has been taken, you should report it on the gov.uk website.

If your driving licence has been taken, you’ll need to replace it. Again, you can do this online.

If any cheque books, debit or credit cards have gone, be sure to cancel these as soon as possible.

If your benefit books have been taken, let the relevant department know. That way they can replace them and prevent potential fraud.

You may even find that your birth certificate has been taken, so check this is safe. If it’s been taken, tell the police and contact the General Register Office for a replacement.

Home insurance often includes some cover for replacement documentation, but there’s usually a limit on how much you can claim. Check your policy for details.

I’m finding it hard to cope with having been burgled. Is any help available?

If you’ve been affected by crimes such as burglary, Victim Support can help you. If you report a crime to the police, they’ll automatically put you in touch with Victim Support. But if you need help sooner, you can get free, confidential advice. Call 0808 168 9111 or request support online.

Victim Support can give you support, advice and practical information to help you feel safer. They can also help you support children coping with the impact of a burglary.

How can I prevent future burglaries?

It’s always a good idea to add extra security measures. This could also lower your insurance premium.

Here are some easy, affordable ideas:

  • Invest in smart home security. You can buy smart, wire-free CCTV cameras that you can control from your phone. Dotting a few around your property could well deter potential burglars.
  • Lay down gravel. Gravel paths and driveways don’t just look smart, they’re also a useful security measure as they’re noisy to walk on.
  • Install outdoor lighting. Smart lightbulbs turn on and off on a timer, making it look like you’re home when you’re not.
  • Don’t forget to keep your windows and doors locked. You’d be surprised how many people forget to do this.
  • Hide your valuables. Don’t leave laptops or car keys visible through the window.
  • Paint fences and gates with anti-climb paint.

How can I keep my home safe when I’m on holiday?

It’s also worth taking precautions when you go on holiday. You could, for example:

  • Ask someone to park on your drive, if you have one.
  • Install timers or smart bulbs, so your lights automatically switch on and off.
  • Don’t post holiday photos on social media while you’re away. You’re basically advertising that you’re not at home, which could make you vulnerable to theft.

If your home is going to be unoccupied for more than 30 days, you’ll probably need to let your insurance provider know. They may place conditions on your policy while you’re away, or charge you an additional premium so your home is covered.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to tell my insurance provider I’ve been burgled, even if I’m not making a claim?

Yes. If you’re burgled, you should let your insurance provider know, even if nothing was taken. If you don’t, you could invalidate your policy if you make a claim in the future.

When am I most likely to be burgled?

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that, according to the Office for National Statistics, most burglaries (58%) take place when it’s dark. But more take place during the week, with only 30% happening at the weekend.

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