What to do if someone breaks into your house
We’ve all thought about it. Being woken in the middle of the night to a crash and a bang, then footsteps. A burglar’s in your house. But it would never happen to you, right?
Last year in England and Wales, 57% of people were in their home when they got burgled, and force or violence was threatened or used on 54% of those victims.1
What should you do during a break in?
Make a plan now to avoid disaster – it could save your life.
Plan A: Escape is almost always the best option. You may have to get creative to find a safe way out. Despite what you’ve seen in the movies, don’t attempt to confront intruders – they’ll likely react violently, especially if caught by surprise. Anthony Neary of Safe tells us, ‘a burglar wants to be out again within a couple of minutes. They will make sure they have a clear exit to the rear of the property through the back door before heading upstairs to check the bedrooms’ – so avoid this route at all costs.
Plan B: If you have an alarm system with a panic button, sound the siren. If not, try the alarm button on your car keys.2 By drawing attention to the property, the burglar won’t want to stick around for long.
Plan C: Grab your mobile phone and find a safe place, preferably a room with a sturdy door and lock. If this isn’t an option, then barricade the door with heavy objects and furniture. Dial 999 and explain the situation. Keep it short and specific. If speaking is likely to give away your location, stay silent and dial 55 (Silent Solutions).3 This will alert police that you are in danger, but unable to make a noise. Leave the phone line running so they can hear what’s happening.
Plan D: If all else fails and you’re confronted face-to-face with a burglar, remain calm. The first few minutes will set the tone for the interaction that unfolds.
- Speak in as normal a voice as you can.
- Make no sudden moves.
- Tell them that you’ll cooperate.
- Hold your hands up to shoulder level. It appears compliant, yet it gives you the ability to have your hands ready for defence.
- Avoid direct eye contact. The intruder may interpret this as aggressive behaviour and worry that you’ll be able to identify them later.4
Plan E: Worse comes to worse, you may be forced to defend yourself. You might not know how to fight, but what you do know is your home. Use that to your advantage. Surrounding objects, such as pens or keys can be used as weapons, or even a chair as a shield. By law, you can use reasonable force to defend yourself,5 but aim to escape the situation as soon as possible and make noise as you flee to alert neighbours.
What should you do after a break in?
Your number one priority is getting to a safe place. Don’t enter your home or touch any potential evidence until help arrives.
- Call the police to file a report. This is necessary to make insurance claims, track down the thief(s) and retrieve your belongings.6
- Make a list of everything that has been stolen for the police and insurance company. If you saw the burglar, write down a physical description and what happened.
- Call your home insurance company or make a claim online to receive compensation and support.
- Look at the evidence (video footage, entry points) to determine how the intruder(s) got in and why your home was targeted.
- Repair what damage has been done and take action to improve security weaknesses. For example, it might be worth changing the locks on your doors or installing a home security system/alarm.
Do burglars come back?
28% of people get burgled for a second time in the same property – and of these 8% will be burgled a third or fourth time.7
Thieves often repeat offend on the same properties due to ease and familiarity. If they’ve got away with it once, they probably think they can get away with it again. Therefore, it’s absolutely vital that you improve home security measures to deter thieves from returning. Remember: most robberies can be prevented.
Northumbria Police revealed: ‘It was clear from speaking to ex-offenders that quite often they don’t have sophisticated techniques or spend hours surveying streets before striking - the majority were opportunist thieves.’8
Think like a burglar. Leaving windows open, cash in view, or a flashy car on your driveway is like waving money in their face. So remove the incentives.
The biggest turn-offs for offenders include:
- A home clearly visible from the street and well-lit9
- Lights on or music playing
- A CCTV system or security alarm10
And if there’s one last thing you do to protect yourself: get home insurance. Worryingly, over 5 million households in the UK do not have any.11 These people will be left with no financial compensation, no safe place to stay whilst damage is repaired, and no professional guidance to get them back-on-track. Do yourself a favour and get protected today.
How to deal with trauma after a break in
Being burgled is scary, and the aftermath of this traumatic event can be an extremely difficult time. We look into ways in which you can get back to normal as soon as possible.
The holidaymaker's home security checklist
Going on holiday soon? We've put together a handy security checklist for you to tick off before going away - to help you avoid coming home to any unwanted surprises.