Home > Crime > What to Remember or Collect if You're Burgled

What to Remember or Collect if You're Burgled

By: Robin Mizell - Updated: 7 Aug 2013 | comments*Discuss
Burglary Investigation Break-in Breaking

In order to recover from a burglary you must first prepare for it. After you’ve become a victim of a break-in, it will be too late to record serial numbers, take photographs, install locks, or purchase insurance. That said, here’s a bit of advice about what to do when the ugly crime occurs.

Contact the police—without entering the crime scene if possible—and give the address where the burglary took place. If you saw the criminal or believe someone is still inside your home or office, ring 999 and stress that the crime is in progress. If the intruder is long gone, then ring a non-emergency number for your local police authority. Stay on the telephone as long as necessary to provide descriptions of any suspicious persons or vehicles.

Don’t disturb anything until the police investigator gives you permission. The burglary scene often contains the only existing evidence of the crime. It can sometimes take quite a while before crime scene specialists arrive to process it. The presence of witnesses is rare; therefore, physical evidence will be crucial to the success of the investigation.

Reporting Your Loss

As quickly as possible, provide law enforcement officers with a full list of the property stolen in the burglary. Don’t count on the offender being caught instantly after departing your home with the loot still in hand. If property is later found in a burglary suspect’s possession, the police won’t be able to prove it belongs to you if it’s not adequately described in your crime report. Items that are mass-produced typically cannot be traced and returned to you unless you can identify each of them by make, model, and serial number or other unique markings.

The volume of stolen property recovered by the police is so large that an electronic database is likely to be employed in an attempt to match specific details in the report of your burglary with serial numbers on pawned or recovered items. If you can’t prove that stolen goods recovered by the police are yours, the items will eventually be sold at auction. Furthermore, the police routinely inspect businesses, legitimate and otherwise, that handle stolen property. The only way for them to identify your stolen belongings is by the serial number, or in the case of a truly unique item, with a detailed photograph.

Ask your local police where you might expect to find your possessions being resold. Visit the locations or view the websites. If you recognise your stolen belongings, quietly contact the police without tipping the seller and then follow the police investigator’s instructions.

Identity Fraud

If your identification, cheques, bank cards, passport, credit card statements, or financial records were stolen in the burglary, immediately notify the agency or business that issued each one. For detailed step-by-step instructions on reporting identity theft, refer to

Crime Scene

Show the reporting officer everything that was damaged during the burglary. Property destruction is also part of the loss you’ll need to report to your insurer or include in a claim for compensation.

Without touching anything, help the police officers ascertain what the burglar might have handled while committing the crime. The officer will check to see whether latent fingerprints exist. Be alert for any unfamiliar items that may have been discarded by the offender. In the process of making a hasty exit, criminals sometimes leave behind cigarette butts, gloves, hats, tissues, blood spatters, drug paraphernalia, and even wallets that serve as evidence linking them to the crimes.

Advise the police investigator if there are any surveillance cameras in the vicinity of the crime scene.

Practical Matters

Take the time to cooperate with the burglary investigation. Be honest about who was aware of the valuables you possessed and might have had a motive to steal them. If the investigator is unable to locate witnesses, ask your neighbours if they can help. Some people won’t provide information about a suspect until they’re asked.

Understand that efforts to locate and prosecute a burglar can take months or years. Don’t jeopardise the outcome of the case by refusing to promptly identify property, testify at a hearing or trial, or discuss the case with investigators. Remember to provide police and court officials with your new address and phone number, if you move after the crime occurs.

If you intend to request a monetary court award for damages, you’ll need to produce your own evidence such as receipts, records, photographs, video or audio recordings, and testimony of witnesses. The same forms of evidence are used to support an insurance claim. You can find more information in the articles Investigating a Civil Claim and Are You Eligible for Compensation?

If you’re curious about whether the law permits the use of force against a burglar, the Crown Prosecution Service website provides a detailed explanation concluding with this statement: “It is a fact that very few householders have ever been prosecuted for actions resulting from the use of force against intruders.”

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • TomCallan
    Re: How to Join MI6
    Y’all aren’t the most perceptive people are you? First things first, you need to be at least 17 and a half to apply and have full British…
    22 September 2019
  • healer
    Re: How to Join MI6
    Hi Im healer and please take me I will do all the missions and I will always follow the orders please take me Thank you!
    11 August 2019
  • Black Mafia
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I'm 13 I live in Nigeria I've lived in the US and I want to join the MI6 so madly I spy on little people please give me the opportunity to work…
    10 August 2019
  • Gonaburst
    Re: How to Join MI6
    So i am a 12 year old girl and i really want to become part of the MI6 any time soon probably at the age of 14 however i dont know how to sigh up…
    2 July 2019
  • Anton
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I would love to join. I have immense emotional intelligence, great at forming relationships, trust is the highest thing I value. Trust me, I know a…
    1 July 2019
  • Karim
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I am a British citizen and ethnic afghan and I can believe that I can be very useful. I can speak Persian , Pashto, Urdo , punjabi and English.
    25 June 2019
  • Mermaid
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I am a 13 year old girl who was born in Britain and lives in a kurdish household. next week I will be choosing my options for year 9 and GCSEs and…
    2 May 2019
  • Anonymous
    Re: How to Join MI6
    I am not a British citizen, I am a 16yr old who would love to work for the SIS n serve MI6.
    12 March 2019
  • Unknown
    Re: How to Join MI6
    Dear Thomas, I am a 13 year old girl for Latvia, living in the UK. I’ve always been interested in secret missions, I’ve been watching films…
    12 February 2019
  • agent
    Re: How to Join MI6
    Im going to chose my GCSES next month so i am wondering what i would need to because it is a lifelong dream to work for MI6
    12 January 2019