1.3 million people have moved house due to being burgled

Being burgled can be a life altering experience

Being burgled can be a life altering experience - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As anyone who’s ever been burgled can confirm, it’s a uniquely unsettling experience.

Not only is there the loss of valuables to contend with, but there’s also the heartache that comes from having your private property violated by total strangers.

My parents’ house was burgled twice in under year when I was about 11, and on the first occasion we almost caught them in the act – they dashed out of the house and into a next door field as we drove up the drive. A broken window and muddy footprints on the carpets left a lasting impression.

After the police visit had taken place, the list of stolen goods was compiled – all my mum’s jewellery, a worthless signet ring of mine. What came next was suspicion (my mum was convinced the window cleaners had done it), fear (I was nervous about being home alone until I was about 16) and anger (how dare they!) None of the stolen things were ever found. Nine months later another burglary saw the theft of the video player and the installation of a burglar alarm. Those window cleaners never did come back.

According to new research, more than a million people have moved house following a burglary and it doesn’t surprise me one bit. A Churchill Home Insurance study found that 1.3 million victims felt so unsafe after their home was burgled that they moved as a result.

Consequences reported by victims include sleep deprivation (25 per cent) and illness (eight per cent). Six per cent said they needed counselling to cope with the emotional impact of the incident and five per cent said they suffered post traumatic stress disorder. One in ten say things never returned to normal after being burgled.

Not surprisingly, the worst parts of being burgled are the knowledge that someone has been in the house (45 per cent), the shock (32 per cent) and the feeling of violation (30 per cent).

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I’m relieved to say that, since leaving rural Yorkshire and living in a load of crime hot-spots (just off East London’s Murder Mile, for example) my home hasn’t been burgled once. The only near miss occurred about five years ago, here in leafy Hertfordshire of all places: our side door was wide open one evening, and an opportunist saw his chance and leapt over the gate into the back garden. Luckily our startled cats sent my other half out to investigate, and the intruder leapt straight back over the gate. A lesson in door-shutting for us, and a reminder that, even in suburbia, security is key.