Tips

Your House Was Robbed, What Now?

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The latest crime statistics indicate residential burglaries are at their lowest levels ever recorded in Victoria, but it’s still everyone’s nightmare – coming home to an open door, a mess, a sense of dread moving through to shock and disbelief. So what should you do, if it happens to you? 

ATTEND TO PEOPLE AND PETS 

Start with the things that can’t be replaced – your loved ones. Most burglaries in Melbourne are nonviolent (less than two per cent involve any sort of confrontation, according to the latest police figures), but checking that your family and pets are safe should always be the first thing you do. 

CALL THE POLICE 

A Victoria Police spokesperson said that when discovering your home has been robbed, it’s best to avoid touching anything and contact your local police station immediately, or call 000 in case of any emergency or if you see anything suspicious.

A Crime Scene Officer (CSO) will attend and collect evidence from the crime scene to assist the investigation as soon as they can, by taking photographs, searching for fingerprints, examining evidence and speaking to neighbours and other possible witnesses.

If the CSO is unable to attend before the home needs to be used, they advise that people touch any disturbed areas as little as possible. 

CALL YOUR INSURER 

Have an inventory on hand, of things that were stolen. Pictures of the missing items can be helpful here. 

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MAKE IT YOUR HOUSE AGAIN 

Feelings of anger, sadness, violation and insecurity are often reported by people whose homes have been broken into. The emotional impact can be devastating. It is therefore important to take care of yourself and make your home feel like it is your sanctuary again; so do what you need to, to help you feel safe and happy inside it again. Insurance rating company Canstar recommends starting this process by putting the house right.

Repairs should be done as soon as possible – things like replacing broken doors, windows or locks. If you’re renting, this would be when you call the landlord, if you haven’t already; these count as urgent repairs, since they have rendered the premises insecure.

Cleaning up and replacing obviously missing items (glaring things such as televisions) should also be done as promptly as possible, so that they don’t constantly remind you of what has happened. Canstar also points out that children will need reassuring, after an event like this; getting back to their regular routine as soon as possible can be helpful. 

TAKE PREVENTATIVE STEPS 

This should also help make the house feel safe again as well, especially since once a house is broken into, it may be targeted again. Investing in things like security doors, alarm systems, cameras and stronger locks on doors and windows is often recommended.

A Victoria Police spokesperson advised, however, that in almost a third of residential burglaries, there are no visible signs of forced entry. They report that unlocked side and rear doors are the most common entry points for burglars, so get into the habit of making sure to keep doors and windows secured.

Since most burglaries are opportunistic, the police also recommend making sure that valuables such as car keys, wallets and cash are not visible to passersby; and to keep your house looking occupied – for example, by asking a neighbour to bring in your mail and bins before you go away.

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