Home burglary is deliberately entering another person’s property, often with force, with the intent to steal. This could also include entering and stealing things in your yard/section or breaking into a car that’s parked in the driveway.
The effects of home burglary on people can be much greater than simply losing some belongings. Having a stranger enter your home uninvited and then walk around and steal your things is invasive and violating. Some people can feel unsafe in their home for a long time afterwards. People often find burglaries distressing even if not much gets stolen. For others it may just be extremely annoying. Everyone reacts in different ways.
Home burglary can be disruptive to your daily life and work. It needs to be reported to police and your insurance company. There can be mess and damage to clean up and repair. Where the criminal/s broke in may need to be immediately fixed – eg. a broken window or door. The financial cost might be high and the stress significant. Some stolen items might have been irreplaceable, with huge sentimental value and you may find these losses especially troubling.
Our Support Workers are available to support you personally, or as a family or whānau, for as long as you need us. You can call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.
Call police to report the crime. They can give you advice on how to respond to this situation and keep safe. They will investigate and keep you updated on progress.
Call police on 111 immediately if you think the burglar may still be in your home or close by. Do not go inside.
Call the 105 non-emergency number to report a burglary that’s already happened and when you don’t need emergency police assistance, or go online to report what has happened. 105 Police non-emergency reporting
Go to your local police station and talk with the person at the front counter. They advise you about what to do. You may be able to speak to an officer straight away.To find a local police station
The police will interview you and will ask you to give a statement to assist their investigations. Your information could later help in a criminal court case.
- A police officer will write down or record what has happened.
- What you say must be true. Giving police false information is a serious matter.
- You’ll be asked to read it through to check it’s correct and then sign it to confirm it’s an accurate report of what happened to you.
Police will investigate the case. This can take some time. They may need to interview you again. They will keep you updated on progress of their investigation.
Make a list of what’s been taken. See our helpful information sheet After a burglary, robbery, or theft to check what’s been stolen. If important documents have been taken, tell your bank, credit card company, or other agencies to help prevent further theft.
Take photos and/or video of the scene. Check footage from any security cameras. Avoid touching things and cleaning up until after police have investigated. Ask their advice about what to do about this if there is a delay in them coming.
Get your home secured, as soon as possible. If you’re renting, let your landlord know about any urgent repairs that must be done.
Locate your pets. Make sure they haven’t been let out through an open door, window, or gate.
If you don’t feel comfortable in your home, stay with family, whānau, or a friend, to help you have time to think and recover in a safe place.
Make an insurance claim as soon as possible, if you have insurance. Your insurance company will explain what you need to do.
Inform your neighbours. They may have seen something or someone suspicious that could assist police with their investigation. Often burglars target a neighbourhood.
If you think the items stolen could result in identity theft (someone pretending to be you for their own gain by using your official documents, passwords, or identity cards), see this important advice.
To improve your personal and home safety and prevent the risk of further burglaries:
See this handbook by police with many practical tips, Be Safe, Feel Safe.
Police online tips and helpful videos
Police Tips for community burglary prevention
Get involved in Operation SNAP (Serial Number Action Project), an initiative aiming to prevent burglary and making it harder for criminals to sell stolen goods in New Zealand. Visit SNAP.
Give yourself time to recover from this experience
Sometimes the reactions can be hard to shake off for a while. See tips below.
Everyone’s different and will react in their own ways
After a home burglary, many people experience some degree of shock and distress. For some it may not be a serious situation but for others it can feel invasive and traumatic.
Often people feel confused about what’s happened. They can feel angry and frustrated but powerless to do anything about the situation. They may feel resentful of the trouble and loss a stranger has caused them. Some may blame themselves or others for the lack of security which caused the burglary. They can feel anxious about leaving the house or being alone and unsafe in it. Some people can worry a burglary might happen again and might be on edge and jumpy for a while. You may find yourself preoccupied with what happened and unable to concentrate.
People can naturally grieve for treasured items that have been stolen and this can sometimes be overwhelming if the loss has been great.
Physically you may have difficulty sleeping or changes in your appetite. Other common physical reactions can include being shaky, tight chest, a racing heart, difficulty breathing, body aches, nausea, upset stomach, or headaches. Existing health conditions may get worse because of the stress.
If you have experienced a theft of everyday belongings, such as a wallet, phone, keys, or laptop, you’re likely to feel very angry and frustrated. It can also be extremely stressful managing without these essential belongings, as you must take time to contact your bank, insurance provider, phone service to report, cancel and get replacements. It can be even harder if you don’t have insurance. A lot of things can suddenly become very difficult to do. Some people become very focused on trying to find the person who did the burglary.
You may find your reactions are especially strong if this isn’t the first time you have been the victim of a home burglary.
These kinds of reactions are all normal
However, they might affect you more, and for longer, than you expect. See tips below for coping with the impact of what’s happened.
If children or young people are affected
If children or young people live in the home they are likely to need extra reassurance and support, especially if things have been ransacked and damaged around the house or things of theirs have been stolen or damaged. They might become afraid at night, have disturbed sleep, bad dreams, a fear of the dark or sleeping alone. Others may be very unsettled or frightened of being left by themselves or going into rooms on their own. They may worry the burglar will come back. See our information sheet for parents and caregivers about Supporting your child or young person after a crime or traumatic event.
Looking after yourself is important
Encourage others who have been affected to do the same. Eat healthy food. Drink enough water. Keep up routines and get good rest and sleep, as best you can. Do some simple exercise. Take some slow, deep breaths. Spend time with people you can relax with, or with a pet. Spend time in nature. If you find keeping busy helps, find useful tasks to do. See a doctor if you’re unwell, extremely anxious, or are having difficulty sleeping. Draw on any cultural or spiritual beliefs you may have. Accept caring offers from others if that would help.
Talk about what happened
When you’re ready, talk to someone you trust about what happened, such as a trusted member of your family, whānau, friend, a respected elder, rangatira, a Victim Support worker, your doctor, or a counsellor. You are not to blame for this crime, the perpetrator is.
More tips for coping with your reactions
To understand more about trauma and grief, and to find some ways to cope with your reactions, please see:
Supporting children and young people
Patient reassurance can help when children and young people experience ongoing anxiety. A night light or torch could help their confidence and music may help them relax and feel calmer. Leaving the bedroom door open reassures them they can call out for you. Involve them in talking about strengthening home security to help them to feel safer. If new locks are being fitted, let your children watch. See our information sheet for parents and caregivers about Supporting your child or young person after a crime or traumatic event.
For more information on security advice see Steps You Can Take in the top blue box above.
If your reactions trouble you
Visit your doctor. They can do a health check and support you and other family members with any ongoing issues, such as sleeplessness, anxiety, or depression.
Consider talking with a counsellor who can help you work through your reactions to what has happened and its consequences for you and your family.
We are here for you 24/7
Our Support Workers are available to support you personally, or as a family or whānau, for as long as you need us. You can call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected to a Support Worker.
Our support is completely free and confidential, and available throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.
What we can offer
You don’t need to report the burglary to police to receive our help. Our Support Workers can support you with:
- someone to listen, talk with, and support you to cope through trauma and loss
- help to understand your rights and make informed choices
- information and help to answer your questions
- help to access local support services and counselling to suit your situation
- someone to assist and support you at any court trials, hearings, and dealing with police and other government agencies
- help to prepare Victim Impact Statements and attend family group or restorative justice conferences.
We are committed to providing quality support to strengthen the mana and well-being of all those affected by home burglary.
If English is your second language
If you require support in your first language, Victim Support can use Ezispeak to connect with an interpreter over the phone. Call us on 0800 842 846 and let us know. We will try to match you to a Support Worker who speaks your language.