A little while ago, a local newspaper featured a story of a burglary that saw thieves come in through the attic – an unusual sight. What most stories on burglary don't feature, however, is the cost to the victims in terms of repairs, which can add up to a whopping £2,833 bill overall.
Analysis by Post Office Home Insurance of figures from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that the average cost of a burglary will tally up to £2,267 in stolen valuables and £566 to pay for any damage, not even counting the emotional damage such an invasion of privacy will have on the unlucky household.
The most common costs due to damage caused during a break-in include the repair of forced doors (51%), broken locks (27%) and broken windows (24%). Damages to furniture (7%) and soiling (1%) round up this unfortunate top five. These will likely add to the stress of being burgled and constrain finances at a time when families are already stretched.
Despite the rise in expensive technological equipment lying around the house, jewellery was still the joint most stolen item, at 38%, which is doubly tragic not just because of the price tag attached, but also the emotional value that many people place on their pieces of jewellery. Similarly, purses, wallets and money also proved desirable to thieves and joined jewellery at the top of the tragic top five, with an equal 38%.
Computers and their related equipment weren't too far behind, though, at 34%, with this percentage having risen dramatically over the last decade. Rounding up the list were electrical goods/cameras (19%) and watches (14%), with mobile phones (13%) just missing out on a top five spot, possibly because people tend to keep these close to them at all times.
Rob Clarkson, managing director at Post Office Money Insurance, commented: "Nothing can prepare homeowners for the emotional impact of a burglary – it can leave you feeling vulnerable and unsafe in your own home. At this difficult time, the last thing you should be concerned about is the practicality of covering costs for home repairs or replacing valuables. As such, it's important to make sure you protect your home as much as possible, not just by securing doors and windows but also by having adequate home insurance in place."
While tragedy can strike anyone at any time, there are a few things you can do to keep your property and possessions as safe as possible. If you can afford it, the most secure course of action would be to get a security alarm. For those who don't have the money for such a system, you could install an external light with a timer and/or motion detection function to deter burglars, especially while you're away on holiday.
Further options to consider include extra locks, or better locks (such as a three-point locking system) if yours are a bit old and maybe easier to get through. Add some good locks to your shed or garage, too, as burglars tend to love these for their relative ease of access. Of course it's imperative to not forget to lock your doors and windows, regardless of how fancy the locks may be or how long you'll be away, as it can only take a minute while you're not looking for someone to get in and take your stuff. Common sense also tells us not to leave keys outside the house, no matter how hidden you think they are, and not to flaunt your expensive belongings where outside eyes can easily see them.
Last, but certainly not least, ensure your home and contents insurance are sufficient to cover the cost of your possessions – they can tally up more than you think, especially if you've bought some high-priced things since the last time you reviewed your policy. With sufficient financial security in place, you can at least be sure you won't be footing the bill should the worst come to pass.
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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