What to do after a property break-in
In our last article ‘Summer crime and break-ins’ we investigated why break-ins are likely to increase during the summer months and how to help prevent them. But if someone has broken into your home, what do you do next?
Do not touch anything
It may be tempting to clean up, move items or even look through cupboards and drawers to see what is missing - but don’t! The more surfaces you touch and items you move, the more you ultimately disturb the crime scene that would need to be examined by the police and forensics. Once the police have arrived, they will let you know when you can look through your belongings.
Call the police
Calling the police as soon as have you realised a property you are responsible for has been burgled, can help increase their chances of catching the culprits. The longer you wait to call the police, the harder it becomes to trace the criminals.
Depending on the severity of the crime and the type of break-in, will depend on how the police respond to your call. They may arrive within the hour or longer. Is a forensic team required? This all depends on the individual case, so it is important to provide the police with as much information as possible.
Provide them with a list of stolen items and any CCTV footage you may have (if you have it). Even though the police and forensics may take photos, these photos may not be valid for your insurance company. It’s therefore advisable to take photos on your own camera or phone.
You should be issued with a crime reference number by the police after they have processed the scene. You will need this crime reference number for your insurance company to process the claim.
Contact your insurance provider
Be sure to contact your insurance provider as soon as possible so they can explain how their claims process works e.g. filling out certain documents, handing over vital evidence such as CCTV footage or photos, as well as a list of missing items.
Your insurance provider may ask for proof of purchase for the missing items. Try to find any receipts within the property or a log, along with time stamped photos if available that are a record of the missing items. Every insurance company’s policy will vary so when setting up a new policy, check-out what their requirements are when it comes to covering an unoccupied home and contents if required.
A property with a broken window or police tape wrapped around it, can signal to other criminals an easy target. Once the police are finished at the property and your insurance company have given you the go ahead to tidy up, get moving on fixing that broken window, lock, door asap.
Letting your neighbours know about your break-in is not only a responsible thing to do, but this might encourage people to keep their eyes peeled in-case suspicious activity occurs again.
How are you feeling?
Nobody really knows how they are going to react after experiencing a break-in until it has happened. Some people may experience anxiety and distress as soon as they have realised what has taken place. Others may not feel the impact of a burglary until a later date.
A break-in can feel very personal especially if it has taken place in the home or a property you are responsible for. Therefore, it is highly important that you and those affected by the break-in, allocate some time to process what has happened and find a way of coping with the situation. This could mean talking to friends, family, or even a helpline or a charity.
After the clean-up, you may want to think about preventable measures you can implement around the property. You may already have a CCTV system in place, or double lock doors, but what else could you be doing to prevent future break-ins?
- Did your existing CCTV capture the break-in? If not, maybe consider moving the security cameras to different positions, buy a couple more to cover blind spots or upgrade to a system more catered to your needs.
- Invest in an alarm system that has multiple trigger points. Burglars will not just target the front or back door. So ensure your system covers windows and other entry points.
- Are the locks on your windows and doors up to the latest British lock standards? Do they close securely? If not, maybe it’s time to invest in better quality locks, windows or doors. Be sure to also check the locks on your outbuildings, garden shed and garage.
- Flood lights or security lights are a great deterrent. Sensor lights located at access points around your home should be bright enough that they could deter criminals, but not too bright that they upset neighbours.
Why unoccupied property insurance?
If a property you are responsible for is left unoccupied for more than 30 days, whether it’s a gap in tenancy, being renovated, going through the conveyancing process, or if you’re taking that summer holiday of a lifetime, it’s likely that cover may be restricted under a standard home insurance policy.