How does burglary affect the victim?
It’s easy to dismiss burglary as a property crime. Burglars are usually motivated by the thought of finding small, high-value items that are easy to sell, so the authorities are usually focused on the loss of property.
Anyone who has been burgled will know that the impact of the crime runs far beyond the loss of belongings. The financial impact of burglary can be significant for many people, but the emotional stress that comes from being burgled often lasts much much longer. Since many victims of crime feel that the police, courts or insurance companies do not take their experiences into account, the long-term impact can be serious.
How likely is that someone will be burgled?
The latest figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales show that between August 2016 and July 2017 there were a total of 485,000 homes that were burgled, as well as a further 182,000 burglaries of outbuildings such as garages or garden sheds. Although there has been a long-term decline in crime rates in the UK, the most recent statistics show that burglary has been going up.
Most burglaries are opportunistic, and one in four people are victims of a repeat burglary.
The immediate aftermath
Dealing with the chaos of a burglary is the first thing that needs to be done, and like any unsuspected disaster can take a great deal of time to resolve. After calling the police, the first thing a burglary victim needs to do is make their home secure. If the method the criminals used to enter the house is obvious – such as a broken window or forced lock –
then that needs to be fixed by a glazier or a locksmith. But a substantial number are committed by using an unlocked door or window, which can create doubt and uncertainty for victims about the best course of action.
Clearing up is the next task. Burglars tend to look for mobile phones, laptops and other easily transportable high-value items like jewellery. They often cause major disruption to a home and it can be hard to immediately find out what’s missing. Sometimes documents have been taken, and it’s important to let banks, building societies and other institutions know that there is a risk of further crime in the form of fraud or identity theft. Often victims find that the process of clearing up is particularly upsetting, so getting help from friends, relatives or neighbours can be a great help.
Longer-term problems to deal with
Any items that have been stolen need to be replaced and most people will want to make an insurance claim to cover these costs. Victims need a crime number from the police to process this claim, but some police forces will no longer devote significant resources to dealing with burglary.
Without any clear indication of who the burglar is through things like CCTV, the police are likely consider that they do not have the manpower to pursue the case with any likelihood of success. The psychological effects of burglary are also present in at least 60% of victims who say they experienced anger, shock, worry and fear. Nearly half of burglary victims were in the home when the incident happened which can increase the traumatic nature of their experience.
A survey by Victim Support indicates that 35% of people experienced depression or anxiety, with 57% reporting difficulties sleeping. Another impact is that burglary victims become more aware of other potential offences and become worried about being the victims of a violent crime or street robbery.
Around 21% of burglaries happen in homes where one of the residents is under 16. Children are particularly likely to be affected by the thought of someone strange being in their home, and it’s important for parents to discuss these issues with them to discover what their concerns are and how to allay them.
Victims should consider discussing these issues with their police liaison officer or GP whether or not any counselling might be available to help, as well as looking at ways to minimise the chances of being burgled again.
What can I do about it?
Remember that even if you are a victim of a burglary that the fault lies with the burglar, not you. It’s easy to blame yourself after a burglary but a determined criminal can gain access to most homes.
It is possible to take action though. Installing equipment in your home is a good option. A prominent deterrent sign will make potential criminals think twice, while sensors and a high-powered siren can combine to make an intruder reconsider. It’s also possible to install photo detectors to capture the burglar on camera, and have guards visit your home in the event of an alarm being raised.
For advice on how to deter and prevent burglaries, book a free Home Security Review of your home today.