Quick guide: What to do if your home is burgled

What to do if your home is broken into by burglars | what to do after a burglary at your home | Cocoon Smart Home Security Blog
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If your home is broken into, the adrenaline and emotions that kick in can make it difficult to be practical. This guide aims to make it a little easier for you to do the things you need to do after a burglary. In just three steps you can do what’s needed and begin to move on.

Go through the guide step-by-step, pausing when you need to. If you’re finding it difficult and emotional, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help.

The first thing to do is to make sure you feel safe, and that your family, housemates and pets are safe too.

Stay safe – if in any doubt, do not go inside your home

If in any doubt as to whether the burglar might still be in your home, do not go inside. Do not try to confront them. Go and sit in a locked car, knock on a friendly neighbour’s door and ask to go inside, or walk a little distance away and dial 999, or 18000 if you require a textphone service. Try to stay calm, the police will be with you as soon as possible.

If you’re sure they’re no longer there, phone a neighbour or someone you trust and ask if they can come and be with you.

Then, take a deep breath and tick these three things off:

1. Phone the police to report the crime

Even if nothing was taken, you should let the police know about the burglary. They will not only be able to investigate the crime but are also able to give you reassurance and advice. You may, understandably, be shaken up – they can recommend local victim support organisations who will help you.

If you’re sure the burglar has gone:

  • Dial 191 to speak to the police on the telephone
  • Dial 18001 101 to access a textphone, available for those who are hard of hearing or have a speech impairment

Have a pen and paper ready to note down the crime number they give you, you’ll need it for any insurance claims.

After your phone call, the police usually come to visit you. This is to ask you for details of what happened, check you’re okay, and inspect the crime scene. They will let you know how to submit an official record of the crime, known as a police report. If you’re struggling to concentrate on what they’re saying, note it down.

Sometimes a forensic team will then visit your home, they usually arrive within 4 hours of you reporting the break-in. Make sure that, unless the police have said that you can, you don’t move or touch anything before they arrive. Even small details could be part of the evidence that catches the burglar and helps get your stolen things back.

2. Take photos and note down key information

After a stressful situation, our memory of it isn’t always as always as reliable as we’d like. To be sure you are clear on everything you might need to remember at a later date, it’s best to create a record.

Remember not to touch or move anything that could be used as evidence, before the police say that you can.

Take photos or videos of:

  • Where you think the burglar entered your home
  • Any damage to your property or your possessions
  • The spots in your home where things are missing
  • Any footprints, fingerprints, or clues that you can see

Grab something to write, type, or record voice notes, answering the following questions:

  • What’s the date and time right now?
  • When do you think the burglary took place?
  • Were you away from home during the burglary? If so, how long were you out for and when did you get home?
  • Did you get a glimpse of the burglar(s)? If so, what did they look like?
  • Were there any particular details on their clothing or characteristic facial features that may help the police in their investigations?
  • What do you think has been stolen?
  • Has anything been damaged?
  • Are any car or house keys missing?
  • If you have a home security camera installed, check to see if it captured the burglar in the act. If it did, save it to a safe place to be shared with the police.

Going through this list may take you ten minutes now, but could prove invaluable in a police investigation. If the investigation goes well, it could mean that you see the burglar convicted and your stolen belongings returned to you.

3. Let your insurer know about the break-in

If you have home insurance, give your insurer a call. Many require that you report the burglary to them within 24 hours, so it’s best to do this as soon as you can, but you’ll likely need your crime number and police report to hand.



Other practical things you may need to do:

  • Get your locks changed.
  • If keys to anywhere else have been taken, let those who live/work there know that they need to be vigilant.
  • Cancel any stolen bank cards, note down when you do this in case of any fraudulent activity on the account. If you need money while waiting for new cards, you should be able to withdraw some by visiting a bank in person
  • If your mobile phone has been stolen, get your phone provider to put a stop on your account immediately. Consider any important passwords you may have stored on your phone and change these as soon as possible. We have tips on easily managing your passwords here.
  • Passports are a popular target for thieves. If yours is taken, let the issuing office know so they can replace it – you can do this, and apply for a new passport, online.
  • If pension documents have been taken, notify the Department for Work and Pensions (or other issuing body). You may also need to notify the post office you receive payments through
  • Prescription drugs are sometimes a target for criminals, who look to sell them on. If any are missing let the police know (they can be dangerous in the wrong hands), and contact your GP or chemist to get the refills you need.

Looking after yourself

Having your home burgled is horrible. Even if you’re fortunate and not much has been stolen, knowing a stranger has been in your home going through your things can feel overwhelming.

Over the following days, try to spend more time with family, friends and neighbours. Filling your home with positivity to help you in coming to terms with the stress and anxiety caused by a stranger being in your personal space and handling your possessions.

It’s a good time to take steps to protect your home, doing so can help bring you peace of mind and a better nights’ sleep. To help get started, there’s plenty of advice on our blog, like our quick guide to home security and simple tips to help protect your home. If you have more specific questions, our team are happy to help. You can get in touch with them on [email protected].

Any feelings you have of sadness, anger and anxiety are completely normal, and organisations like Victim Support are there to help. Most importantly, try to not blame yourself – you are not the criminal.