The true cost of a break-in – and what to do about it


You arrive home after a day out with your family, and something is off – the front door is wide open and swinging slightly in the breeze and your heart drops. You tell the kids to wait while you enter and have a look around, there’s glass from a broken window. You confirm your suspicions – you’ve been burgled.

Being broken into is not only costly, but it’s frustrating, time-consuming and often times quite an emotional experience.

Let’s start with the logistics – there is the police to call to file a report and an insurance claim to file. You have to list everything that’s been taken – which sometimes can be hard to do. And then, you have to provide proof – ideally receipts – but who keeps the receipt for years?  It’s a whole lot of administration you just don’t need.

But above everything else, it’s the emotional cost. The feeling of being violated – someone has come into your home uninvited and stolen from you. They’ve gone through your things, opened drawers and quite possibly gone through your intimate belongings. This can lead you to you feeling unsafe and vulnerable in the very place where you should feel most at ease. Are they going to come back? Did they take a key? Do I need to get my locks changed? Is my family safe? In addition to this, things that hold significant sentimental value are often stolen. Mostly, the street value is insignificant compared to the emotional value you place in the item.  I remember a friend telling me that after she was broken into and her jewellery stolen (a gift from her late grandmother), her mother scoured the Trade and Exchange stores, Pawn Brokers and Trade Me for months, looking for any sign of it.

So how do you prevent this from happening? Lots of burglaries are as a result of opportunists – you leave a gate open, a window ajar a door unlocked. Be vigilant about your security – always lock up and arm your alarm even if you are just popping up the road. Mount CCTV cameras in both obvious and non-obvious places – these are likely to act as a deterrent and an opportunist will quickly move on if they think they will be caught on camera.  Let them know you have cameras by affixing stickers on your windows. Keep items of value away from prying eyes – i.e. a burglar might look in the window and see a laptop sitting on a bed as an easy target. Get to know your neighbours – where we live, we know all our neighbours and keep an eye out for one another, discuss any suspicious activity and let them know when we are going away. Some burglaries are planned based on when you are expected to be out – in which case it is important that you mix up your routine or at least make it look like you are home when you aren’t. It’s also really important to be mindful of what you put on social media – if it’s out in the public forum, it’s easy for a burglar to know when you are out or away on holidays. If you tend to share a lot online, they may also know the layout of your house and where you keep your designer handbags!  

These are just a few tips – and we recommend you consider them because the true cost of a break-in isn’t just about the money and the inconvenience, it’s that awful feeling it leaves you with.