The hardest way to discover how vulnerable your home is to the attentions of the burglar is to find yourself a victim. For most people, it is difficult to imagine the sense of violation and anger felt by victims of burglary until it happens to them. The first, and most important, thing to remember is that it is not your fault that your home has been attacked. The second thing to be aware of is that it is never too late to take steps to protect your home.
There are two proven ways to prevent a repeat burglary. One is to identify and prosecute the offender and the other is to make your home more secure by following the advice contained here.
If you are unfortunate enough to become a victim of burglary, take the following steps.
Keep calm. Try not to touch or move anything as by doing so you may inadvertently destroy evidence.
Contact the police immediately. Officers will of course respond in a sympathetic and professional manner. A police officer should attend your home as soon as possible. The officer will conduct a thorough investigation and record all details, including a list of items stolen. The officer can also provide you with information about home security and victim support.
If a forensic examination is required, the officer should search for scientific evidence such as fingerprints, footprints, blood, fibres and other things which could lead to the identification of the offender.
List any stolen property while you are waiting for the police to arrive. It is important to include serial numbers and other features which might assist both officers and yourself in identifying your goods.
If your bank or credit cards have been stolen, you should inform the issuers as soon as possible. The card numbers and the telephone number to use can be found on previous statements. If you belong to a special scheme for notifying loss, so much the better.
Inform your insurance company and be prepared to make a claim. You will be advised on how to give the relevant information for your claim to be processed efficiently. It is important to let your insurers know if you are having trouble in listing your stolen property. You should always keep an inventory of your belongings. Keep records with when and where you purchased, and how much you paid. Keep a list of all serial numbers if possible as well. This should bekept in a safe or bank deposit box.
The police, your family and friends can be expected to support you at this time. However, specialist counselling and practical advice is available from your local Victim Support Center. The police will be happy to put you in touch with a local center.
Victim Support centers are organizations staffed by volunteers who are trained to help victims of crime. They may assist you to complete your insurance and compensation claims, replace documents and will also offer moral support during identification and court procedures. Victim Support can also provide a listening ear if this what you need.
Use this information to review the security of your entire home, not just the place through which the burglar gained access. Consider joining or setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
Nobody can identify your belongings better than you. If you are able to, it is worth visiting the second-hand shops, jewellers, antique dealers and pawn shops in your area. They can sometimes unwittingly buy stolen goods.
If you do identify something belonging to you, bring the item to the dealer?s attention and inform the police as soon as possible. Be patient, as the matter of ownership could take some time to resolve.
Try to put the experience behind you. Remember that the burglar attacked your home for what was inside it, not because you live there. By using the experience positively and following the advice contained in this book, you can help make sure it is something which does not happen again.