How to Survive a Break In

 Hey Skint chums,

Hope you’re all doing well and continuing to enjoy the heatwave. I’m starting to gear up for holidays now, and, whilst we’re off camping in France later this month I’m delighted that my brother and his family will be housesitting chez Skint, keeping the place nice and cosy for us, as well as getting the chance to catch up with friends and family here in Scotland.

You see, ever since the break in I’ve been far more worried about leaving the house unattended, and really make an effort now to get a housesitter while we’re away. Which is crazy really, since the break-in actually happened whilst we were at home, asleep. Still, I just feel better knowing there’s someone we trust here; making noise, opening curtains and carrying on as normal.

I think I’m also a bit nervous lately because the anniversary of the break-in is coming up, and so when the folks at UIA approaching me, asking if I’d consider writing about a break-in I was all ready with my thoughts on how to survive a burglary and live to fight another day . . . Hang on, I feel some Gloria Gaynor coming on . . .

how to survive a break in

Oh no, not I . . .


What to do when you discover you’ve been burgled

  • It’s a truly hideous feeling, making that discovery. And sometimes, you don’t even discover it straight away. I’d been up for an hour that Sunday morning, fed baby Skint and played with her for a while, before I discovered we’d been burgled in the night. If it’s a quick in and out, snatching a few items and running, it’s not always evident. There was no mess at all when we were burgled, just a window, jemmied open, then closed as they left . . 
  • If you discover the burglary immediately on returning home, don’t go into your house – you don’t want to confront a surprised burglar. Stay outside and call the police. And if you’re unfortunate enough to be in the house when you hear a burglar DON’T confront them. Our neighbour who’s a retired police officer said he’s so often seen people hurt this way. His tip? Make a lot of noise to signal that you’ve woken up or whatever, and call the police from your mobile, but avoid coming face to face with whoever’s in your home.
  • After discovering the burglary don’t touch anything. Don’t hoover muddy footprints or brush up broken glass. I was on the verge of hoovering the one print the burglar left, till I was warned not to. It’s the only thing the police have got to go on to help them find whodunnit. (In our case the trainer mark was from a brand so common it turned out to be of no help anyway right enough. And Mr Professional wore gloves . . . ) 

After the initial shock

  • Hunt out any photographs you have of the stolen items, even if it’s just a pic of you wearing the necklace on the beach etc. Write up a detailed description of each item, including cost. Now in an ideal world you’ll have been more organised than Monica from Friends and recorded all the serial numbers on your belongings – in real life few people do. Once you have a break-in though? You’ll start doing it forever more – just makes the claims process so much simpler. Dig out receipts, but if you can’t find those, anything relating to the item is good. I didn’t have a receipt for our camera, but I had the box, which showed the police and insurance that I’d owned it. Of course, nothing could replace the photos that were on the camera and which were lost forever, including all the ones of baby Skint in the hospital after being born.

  • Change the locks. This only applies if your keys have been stolen – which ours were. You don’t want anyone coming back for a second shot. We got the locks changed that same day – a Sunday of course (sod’s law), so I paid double time for a locksmith: I couldn’t go to sleep till they were all changed. And get a deadlock. In my book, good locks are a more worthwhile investment than statement wallpaper, and I speak as someone who loves wallpaper. Window locks are good too.


Feeling Safe Again

  • If you can afford an alarm, get one. Not a dummy box, which any burglar worth their salt can spot a mile off. If you can’t get an alarm, get an outside light, ideally motion-sensitive, to help scare off would-be intruders.
  • Use thick curtains or blinds to hide the contents of your home from passers-by – you don’t want to tempt anyone.  Also, don’t advertise your home’s contents in other ways: if you’ve just bought a new laptop or TV for example, break down and hide the box in your rubbish. It’s no small wonder that most break-ins occur in the run-up to Christmas. All those laptop boxes? They flutter their pretty eyelashes at the burglars, you know.
  • Some people have a safe or strongbox in their homes for jewellery and important papers. I’ve never bothered with this, but I am a lot more careful now about home security in general, just obvious things like not leaving keys by the door and taking all valuables upstairs at night. I’m especially paranoid about the camera, which I practically wear on a chain round my neck.

There are some more good tips, straight from burglars themselves, here.  

Get as much protection as you can

  • Insurance for your belongings is essential. Though being burgled stinks, insurance softens the blow a tiny bit. Straight after the police, the insurance firm is the next call everyone makes on being burgled – if you don’t have that who ya gonna call? Your mum? A reputable provider like UIA for a home contents insurance policy will ensure that you’re covered for the loss of all the items you would normally take with you when you move house, including things like furniture, DVDs and clothing.
  • When taking out insurance be sure to get the right cover. People often fall down by underestimating the total value of  what’s in their home, either because they don’t tot it all up, or because they want to avoid making their premium more costly. It’s really worth getting the right cover in place though as that’s the only way you can claim if it all gets taken!

Keep things in perspective

Important as all this is, if you do get burgled, I’ve found it helps to remember that it’s all just stuff at the end of the day. Important stuff, the stuff that makes your home feel good and the stuff you really value, but just stuff nonetheless. The same day we got burgled our next door neighbour’s father died. It got things in perspective for me straight away and I felt like an idiot for having moaned about the burglary before he told me the news.

Now, with luck you’ll never need a single one of these tips, pals, but it’s always best to be prepared. Do you have any burglar-proof tips you’d like to share? Or, any stories from the frontline? C’mon, share your war tales . . .   

This post is brought to you in association with UIA.


About Skint in the City

Skint in the City provides stylish, practical tips and advice on how to live the high life on a shoestring budget.

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