Lynne Bateson

Safe as houses? The real cost of a home burglary

My heart aches for the one in eight people so traumatised by a burglary that they move house, for they risk further emotional and financial pain.

New research from Churchill Insurance paints a terrible picture of the aftermath of burglaries. People feel violated and vulnerable in a place they should feel most safe. Many can’t sleep. Some lose confidence in themselves, and can’t bear to be alone in the property. Some take medicine.

A stranger has gone through their possessions, and they could have come face to face with them. Saying goodbye to sentimental items hurts more than the loss of expensive but replaceable stuff. Homes feel tainted or spoiled, especially if they were trashed.

But homeowners who move soon after a burglary are embarking on one of life’s most stressful events – buying and selling a home – maybe while still shell-shocked. Even worse, the burglary may have made their home worth less and harder to sell.

Keeping schtum about a burglary so the property is not stigmatised could land them in court. Laws on disclosure have been tougher since 2014 when property was covered by consumer protection rules. The caveat emptor principle has been eroded.

And moving costs are rising. Average bills, including estate agents’ fees, stamp duty, conveyancing and removal costs, are up to £10,996, from last year’s £10,126, says Lloyds Bank. Triple that in London. Staying put, improving home security and paying steeper insurance premiums can be cheaper than moving.

It’s easier said than done, but people who have been burgled, should try not to be a victim twice by ignoring any first instinct to move. Churchill reckons one in eight victims takes as long as six months before feeling ‘more or less’ normal. Sadly, 11 per cent say things never return to normal.

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