Coping with a Burglary

Are you a victim of burglary?
What to do next
It’s good to talk
The effect of burglary on children

 

Are you a victim of burglary?

When your home is burgled or there has been an attempt to break in, you may experience strong emotional reactions, or feel a loss of control. Your home is the place where you expect to feel safe. A burglary can take away from feelings of safety and control. It can be very distressing to think that someone has come into your home and taken your belongings without your permission, and perhaps has damaged other items such as windows, doors or other property.

  • Cash may have been stolen, valuable jewellery, laptops with personal information, or items of great sentimental value.
  • Possessions may have been pulled out of drawers and thrown around your bedroom.
  • Often it is hard to know how many possessions were taken. This can add to feelings of confusion, worry and insecurity.
  • Understandably you may have concerns about further burglaries. Many people say that they feel unsafe, they are afraid of every sound and they are unable to sleep at night. Some people may not be able to sleep in their home in the days and nights following a break-in.

What to do next

Report the crime to the Gardaí. They can check for fingerprints and forensic evidence, and fully investigate this crime. You should also try to make a list of all the stolen items, which you should give to the Gardaí. Contact your insurance company promptly. It can be useful to take photos, if you can. Get your house back in order as soon as possible, once the Garda forensic checks have been completed. If your house has been damaged and if things have been very disturbed, it will be good for you to restore order to the house and even to change or make improvements to the rooms which were searched. Most people consider their security options following a break in to their home.

  • If you would like advice on how to make your home more secure, you can contact your local Garda station and ask to speak to the Crime Prevention Officer. This Garda can visit your house and give advice on security.
  • It may be a time to consider getting an alarm, or improving your alarm system.
  • You could invite neighbours around to have a chat and offer them the opportunity to share ideas about community/neighbour safety.
  • Put up a Community Alert sign of Neighbourhood Watch stickers.
  • You may consider improving locks on doors and windows.
  • You could have a wind chime or a bell on entry and exit doors.
  • You may think of getting security lights at the front and back of the house.
  • If you are living alone you could consider getting a monitored panic alarm – if you are over 65 there is a grant to assist you in getting this installed.

 

It’s good to talk about your emotional reaction to the crime.

You have been victimized – it is okay to be upset about it. If you live alone, and if you are feeling nervous, see if you can have someone to stay with you for a few nights until you feel stronger. If your emotional state is very painful, or if painful emotions persist, it may be helpful to see a GP and get medical advice on dealing with the situation. Allow yourself the freedom to move through these emotional stages. While it may not seem like it right now, you will be able to move past the negative feelings associated with the burglary. You are stronger than the break in. Do not let a burglary rob you of your good health and mental well-being.  

The effect of burglary on children

Many parents worry about the effects of the burglary on their children.

  • The most important support for your children will be your reassurance that they will be ok, and that it is natural to feel upset and scared after someone has broken into your house.
  • It is also important to help them to talk openly about what has happened, and to ask them and talk to them about how they are affected. Reassure them that whatever they are feeling now is okay, and that most people feel affected by such incidents.
  • Some children do not want to talk about it. That is fine too. It is important that you give them the opportunity to talk, and not push them if they don’t. You will be the best judge of this.
  • Do all that you can to provide them with a sense of safety and security after the burglary, e.g. temporarily changing sleeping arrangements, leaving lights on, providing extra security on your house, ensuring that they are not alone in the house, etc.
  • You can say to your children that you will do all those things to help them feel safe again.
  • Plan some treats or outings for your children to help them get over the upset.
  • Make sure their teachers and/or carers know what has happened.
  • If you are very upset by a burglary, it is best not to talk to your young children about your own fears and anxieties.