To those who don’t know me personally, this title will not make much sense. This week saw me on the receiving end of a burglary; luckily my presence and my makeup stripped face was enough to deter and scare the burglars before they took any more of our possessions. I was on facebook to my friends, and when I saw my door open painfully slowly, expecting to see my housemate’s face, who is female by the way, I was incredibly shocked when I saw a man’s face…scary stuff.
This has provoked me to write this post; what to do if you are unfortunate enough to experience a burglary. Without sounding too depressing or gloomy on this cheery, Irish-themed night, I am formulating my list of tips, as sadly us students are often targets of burglaries and theft.
1. Do not panic. This seems pretty hard to fathom, but in stressful situations like burglaries, whether you are inside the house when it happens like I was, or returning to find your house burgled, the most important thing is to take a deep breath, stop the shaking and calm down a little. Getting yourself into a state won’t do you any further good.
2. If you’re in the house when it happens, do not approach the burglars. Luckily in my case, they interrupted me in my natural habitat, and ran. It could have gone another way, but burglaries are predominantly carried out by opportunist thieves. If you hear something downstairs unnatural and are alone, stay safe, and keep quiet in your room, and preferably lock it. If you’re brave perhaps making a loud noise to let them know you’re there could scare them off. However it could be risky. Decide your plan of action then you can do the following….
3. Phone 999. Seems pretty obvious, but seeing as I was talking to my best friend from home at the time it happened, she was naturally and automatically the first person I rang for advice. With hindsight I seemed delirious for doing this, but when you are in shock you want the nearest source of comfort; this is the police.
4. Take more breaths and co operate with the police. I had the fantastic opportunity of completing my work experience at my county Police service a few years back. They see an array of situations, and whilst it may seem the end of the world for you at that point in time, relatively to other things that could potentially happen, this is not the end of the world. Take your time, give as much evidence and knowledge to the officer as you can, they understand you’ll be upset and distressed but the best plan of action is to try your best to help them so they can help you. Cups of tea are greatly advised.
5. Don’t touch anything that might have the incriminating thieves’ fingerprints on. This could be crucial evidence, and it is vitally important to not touch anything in the scene of the crime. It’s hard when you’re in a flap and you want to rifle through the area to see what else has gone, or has been moved or touched, however it is highly advisable to leave the scene as you found it.
6. Remember the bigger picture. Whilst it may seem the end of the world at that point in time, possessions can be replaced but you can not. Humans are naturally attached to their items, for sentimental, financial or other reasons. Whilst the grieving process for getting over violation of this kind can be highly challenging, take your time to mentally overcome this ordeal, or you won’t properly heal. I do things incredibly speedy, so through my housemate’s absence I was alone in the house only two nights after it happened. I locked myself in, played some soothing music and then fell asleep – ironically I had the best night sleep I have had for weeks.
7. Understand that other people understand. I was flooded with texts, messages, emails making sure I was physically and mentally okay after this. If i’m honest, I have downplayed what I had to experience on Tuesday, but it is the way I operate…to keep calm and carry on. Not everyone is like this, so deal with this in your own way; everyone is different.
8. Learn the lesson. Even if you’re in the house, make sure you leave lights on, shut all windows in rooms you aren’t physically in, and lock all doors. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and if I had been safer, I definitely would not have been as sorry.
Violation is horrible, and no one should have to go through it. I’m not trying to scare people by talking about burglaries, but my constant ‘it won’t happen to me’ mentality was shattered. Sometimes we need a wake up call, and this is why I am writing this post, to encourage you all to be careful and do the same.
Keep calm and stay safe.