What is burglary?
A burglary is when someone breaks into or attempts to break into a building with the purpose of committing a criminal act, usually theft.
Distraction burglary is when offenders trick or dupe an occupant or distract them to gain entrance. They may say they are from a utility company such as the water board, or ask for a glass of water to gain access to the property and commit burglary. They may be working alone or with someone else. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to this type of distraction burglary.
Burglary can have a significant impact on victims, both financially and emotionally. As well as losing items of value, some of which could be personal or irreplaceable, victims may feel a violation of security and distress that someone unknown has been in their home.
Some people blame themselves, particularly if they forgot to secure a window or door, or if they were tricked into letting someone in their home but it isn't your fault. Children in particular can be very frightened following a burglary and may need reassurance even if they don’t talk much about what’s happened.
If you or anyone in your family, including children, need further support following a burglary you can Get Support Now by contacting Victims First. This support can involve emotional support and practical support such as help in completing insurance forms.
- Report the burglary to the police and make a note of the Crime Reference Number. If you have home insurance you will need this number to make a claim.
- Try to get your home secured as quickly as possible. If you’re in rented housing, tell your landlord about any repairs you need.
- Look into ways of making your home more secure for the future. Some security measures can be expensive, but there are other things you can do that cost much less, such as leaving lights or a radio on when you go out and checking that all doors and windows are properly closed and locked. Remember don't leave valuables on display.
- If important documents have been stolen, you will also need to let banks, government departments and other organisations know. Things to check for include bank cards, cheque books, passports, benefit books, mobile phones, birth certificates and driving licences. It’s important to tell banks and building societies as soon as possible so that they can stop fraud and any further theft.
The following advice from police.uk details just a few steps that can make a big difference in keeping your home safe from burglary:
- Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house, even when you're just out in the garden, remembering to double-lock UPVC doors (lift handle and turn key).
- Hide all keys, including car keys, out of sight and away from the letterbox (remember a device could be used to hook keys through the letterbox).
- Install a visual burglar alarm and good outside lighting.
- Get a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on your property.
- Leave radios or lights in your house on a timer to make the property appear occupied.
- Make sure the fences around your garden are in good condition.
- Secure bikes at home by locking them to an immoveable object inside a locked shed or garage.
- Keep ladders and tools stored away; don't leave them outside where they could be used to break into your home.
- Ensure side gates are locked to prevent access to the rear of the property and rear fencing is in good repair.
- Improve natural surveillance at the front of your property i.e. trim high hedges.
- Mark your property with postcode and house number and register your property for free with Immobilise (opens in a new window)
- Consider joining or forming a Neighbourhood Watch scheme (opens in a new window)
- Remove valuables from view of ground floor windows and store high value items (i.e. jewellery, passports) in a properly secured safe or bank vault.
- You can find more information about protecting your home from burglary on Thames Valley Police's website