I've been burgled
Having someone break into your home is a shock. Here's the steps to follow if you've discovered you've been burgled.
1. Call the police immediately
Don't dial them up from home, if there's a chance that the burglars are still inside. As soon as you realise you've had an intruder, call from your mobile in the street, or use a neighbour's phone.
It's OK to dial 999 in this instance because the crime may only just have been committed - and the bad guys still be roaming nearby.
2. Don't touch anything
Tempting as it is to begin clearing up, especially if the place has been ransacked, it's vital that you leave everything untouched. The police will want to evaluate the scene, (and maybe even dust for fingerprints), and you don't want to go Hoovering up vital clues that may lead to arrests and the return of your stuff.
3. Look after yourself
Walking into a burglary scene can give rise to all kinds of immediate emotions, from shock to anger, but it's important that you stay calm when dealing with the police. They'll want to make a report, which involves filling in a form and listing all the stuff that's been stolen.
Get through this, it won't take long, and then settle down with someone you trust and talk about what's happened. Victim Support can offer free confidential advice on your emotional wellbeing, as well as legal issues that may crop up. The bottom line is that whatever you're feeling is fine, from shock to anger, isolation and depression, but in every case it helps to open up about it.
4. Make your home safe again
Once the police are on the scene, they'll work with you to make sure the place is secure. You may need to call for an emergency glazier or locksmith, and it's worth calling your insurance company helpline at this point as they many offer 24-hour emergency call out services. Even if the door wasn't forced, it's worth changing all your locks as a precaution.
Getting new locks fitted might be a hassle, but it could save you a great deal of grief in the long run. If you are forced to hire someone out of the phone book, get a receipt for the work as you may be able to claim back the cost from your insurance company.
Also cancel any cheque books/cash cards you have, or think you might have left lying around the house. If your phone or laptop, which contains personal details of your friends and family has been taken, you'll have to notify them of the situation so they can take steps to protect themselves.
5. Moving on
Getting your life back in order is going to take time... not just your emotions but all the paperwork generated by someone breaking into your house. You'll need to work closely with your insurance company, and present them with the official police report (which will detail items stolen - so avoid the temptation to make up stuff that never existed).
Policies can differ widely, and you may find yourself obliged to accept a new for old replacement, or a cheque to match the value of all the stuff gone missing.