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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. There were 266,283 burglaries in England and Wales from April 2021 to March 2022, according to the Office for National Statistics. If you come home to find you’ve been burgled, what should you do? Here’s what you need to know.

Being the victim of a burglary is an upsetting experience that can take years to get over. There were 266,283 burglaries in England and Wales from April 2021 to March 2022, according to the Office for National Statistics. If you come home to find you’ve been burgled, what should you do? Here’s what you need to know.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
Last Updated
11 JANUARY 2023
4 min read
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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, make sure you’re not in any danger and call 999 instead. Never confront the burglar.

The police will provide you with a crime number. Make a note of this, as your insurance provider will need it if you make a claim on your home insurance.

Take photos of any damage to doors, fences, locks or other entry points. This could help the police with their investigation and potentially speed up the process if you make an insurance claim. The police may send a crime scene investigator to search for evidence. 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 let you know how to make a claim and what to expect going forward.

Make sure your car keys haven’t been taken. On some newer models, the garage can reprogram the locks for you. If they can’t do this, ask the police or a mechanic for advice on how to prevent the thieves returning and taking your car. You might want to use a steering-wheel lock, for instance.

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

If your phone is stolen, contact your service provider so they can block your account.

If you have mobile phone tracking, tell the police as this might help them find the thieves. But never try to track them down yourself as you could put yourself in danger.

What if important documents were stolen?

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

  • If your passport has been taken, report it at GOV.UK.
  • 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 been taken, be sure to cancel these as soon as possible.
  • If your benefit books have been taken, contact the relevant department. 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 after the burglary. Is help available?

If you’ve been affected by crimes such as burglary, Victim Support can help you. When 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 by calling 0808 168 9111 or you can 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, such as smart, wireless CCTV cameras you can control from your phone. Dotting a few around your property could deter potential burglars.
  • Lay gravel on paths and driveways. It’s noisy to walk on, making it a useful security measure.
  • Install outdoor lighting. Smart lightbulbs turn on and off on a timer, so it looks like you’re home when you’re not.
  • Don’t forget to keep 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?

Here are some precautions worth taking when you go on holiday:

  • 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, let your insurance provider know. They may place conditions on your policy while you’re away or charge you an extra premium so your home is covered.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to tell my insurance provider I’ve been burgled 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.

What do burglars look for when targeting a property?

According to the Met Police, there’s a few signs burglars keep an eye out for. These include packaging from expensive TVs or gadgets left in the recycling, and luxury cars or motorbikes (since the keys are likely to be in the house). Keep sheds and garages secure, as these often contain tools burglars can use to gain entry to your home.

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Anna McEntee - Insurance expert

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