After years of decline, the number of reported burglaries in England and Wales is rising again.
Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that domestic burglaries rose 30% over the most recent 12 month period the statistics are available for (although, it must be emphasised, this is still fairly low relative to the peak in the mid-1990s).
It’s not something most people like to consider, but what should you do if you discover your home has been raided?
Here’s how to respond to the immediate aftermath of a robbery, and also how to maximise your chances of making a successful compensation claim on your home insurance.
Immediately after discovering a burglary:
Call the police – It’s usually straight after a theft that it’s most likely the police will regain stolen items and catch thieves. It’s also a community issue as many burglars go on robbing sprees in local areas, so call the police even if you think it’s too late to catch the robbers.
Security – Your main priority should be your security. If windows or doors have been smashed or jammed open, get them fixed. Try and take pictures and note the details of any damage for insurance purposes later. Insurers are aware victims may need to act immediately regarding security and take this into account when you claim.
Missing keys – If house, car or other keys have been taken, you need to change the locks around your home, including outbuildings, and possibly even your car, as soon as you can. Again, make notes for insurers and take photographs if possible of damage to key cabinets etc.
Don’t touch anything that you don’t need to – You may feel the urge to clean and put your house back to how it was, but it’s a good idea not to. It makes it easier for the police to investigate and for collating information for an insurance claim.
Cancel debit and credit cards – If bank, credit cards or cheque books have been stolen, call your bank immediately to cancel them.
Computers – Also tell banks or building societies if you’ve had computers such as laptops or tablets stolen as there’s a chance these could help thieves access your savings and other accounts.
Mobile phones – Likewise, if your mobile phone has been taken, call your provider to put a stop on your account immediately.
Crime reference number – On reporting the crime to the police, ask for a crime reference number as you’ll need this for any insurance claim you make.
Within hours, or at least a few days:
Contact your insurer – One crucial thing you need to do to ensure you can at least start the process of being able to claim on your home cover is to notify your insurance provider within a set time-frame. This is usually a period of one month from the date you first discovered the break in.
Gather evidence – Get together as much evidence as possible about the burglary. Take photos, if you can, of the thieves’ entry points and any damage and disturbance to property and areas of the home.
Receipts and documentation – If you have any, find receipts for items along with any other documentary evidence of ownership, such as photos in which you may be wearing stolen jewellery, or playing a valuable musical instrument that was taken.
Complete and return forms – You’ll need to complete and return insurance forms (again, don’t leave it too long), either online or via the post, detailing the event and providing any evidence you’ve gathered.
A visit from your insurer – Don’t be worried if your insurer arranges to send an expert out to your home, it’s fairly common practice and can actually increase your chance of making a successful claim.
Personal documentation – If items such as passports and driving licences have been taken, you need to inform the Passport Office or DVLA, which you can do online, in writing or on the phone.
Victim support – Being burgled is often a traumatic event for the victim but there are Government run bodies that offer counselling and support. Contact www.victimsupport.org.uk
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Published 23rd October 2018