What to do after a burglary

burglar leaving home through a window; the room is trashed

Danny Baggs

Posted February 12, 2024

If your home has been broken into, you may be feeling anxious and confused about what to do. Here’s a step-by-step guide for what to do after a burglary.

What steps should I take immediately after a burglary? How should I secure my home after a break-in? Are there any safety precautions I should take after a burglary? These are just some of the questions that might be in your mind if you’ve just experienced a break-in or burglary at home.

It’s normal to feel anxious or nervous after a burglary. Here are some guidelines for what to do post-burglary to secure your home, report the crime, and claim on your home and contents insurance if you've got adequate coverage in place.

Checklist for what to do after a burglary

Report the burglary to the police

To report a burglary after the fact, call the Victoria Police Assistance Line on 131 444 if there are more than 10 stolen items or if your motor vehicle was stolen. If a maximum of 10 items were stolen, you can alternatively use Victoria Police’s online reporting tool.

The police can then attend the scene of the crime, check and secure your home, and provide advice on how to make it more secure. They can also investigate the burglary and collect evidence, then try to find and apprehend the intruder and locate your stolen property. Please note that this may take a while if the intruder has already left your home.

To help the police, write down everything that you remember about the burglary before they arrive. Note down (if you know) when the burglar entered and left your property, whether they had a weapon, which rooms the burglar went into, and your list of stolen property.

If you saw the burglar, note any identifying features that you remember. Height, weight, hair colour, eye colour, scars, piercings, tattoos, clothing and other identifying features are all common attributes that the police may ask you about the offender.

Likewise, if you saw the burglar’s car, write down its make, model, colour, registration number, and which direction they drove off in.


burglar running past a desk with spare keys on top

Double-check whether any spare keys have been stolen. Image: Supplied.

Understand what contents have been stolen

Once the police have attended the scene and confirmed that your home is safe to enter, walk around the house and write down everything that was stolen. Check whether your cash, electronics (smartphones, laptops, televisions), spare keys (home and car), valuables (tradie toolsjewellery, white goods), or identity documents that could help burglars to fake your identity (bills, bank statements, passports) are missing.

Make sure to cancel any credit or debit cards that were taken and notify your bank of their theft. If your phone was taken, change your passwords and notify your mobile phone carrier.

Make a home insurance claim

You may be able to replace stolen items and damaged property from a break-in by claiming on your home and contents insurance. Check your insurance policy to see what you may be entitled to after a burglary.

Follow this guide on how to make an insurance claim for an easy step-by-step checklist that you can follow. You may also find it useful to learn how to make a home inventory for insurance claims, and how to avoid undervaluing your possessions so you aren’t underinsured.

Urgently carry out any necessary repairs to your home

If a burglar forced entry into your home, you may need to repair a broken door or window. The burglar may also have damaged internal doors and other parts of your home during the break-in. Remember that many burglaries are repeated, so it’s very important to quickly repair and reinforce any entry points.

Get help with emergency repairs like broken glass windows through Emergency Home Assist, with help usually arriving within the hour. They can also help with changing locks, other less urgent repairs, and a wide range of home maintenance and repairs.


man entering keypad code

Consider getting a safe for your valuables. Image: Getty.

Help protect your home from repeat invasions

Make sure to secure your property by keeping all access points locked, including front, back and side doors, garage doors, windows, gates, skylights, and pet doors. You should also lock your mailbox to prevent mail theft. Remove spare keys hidden outside your home and avoid key safes. Consider installing security screen doors and sensor lighting, including CCTV and monitored alarm systems.

When you’re away from your house for a long time, such as on holiday, make it look like someone is still home. You can do this by getting a house-sitter, avoiding advertising your holiday plans online or uploading holiday photos until your return, setting timers to turn lights and the television on and off, or installing a video doorbell to remotely respond to someone ringing your doorbell or approaching your home. Consider letting Victoria Police know that you'll be away from your residence too.

Learn more about how to improve your home security and home security devices to keep your house monitored and protected.

Secure valuables in your home

Inside the home, secure valuables with a safe and keep expensive items away from windows. Consider marking them with your driver’s license number using an engraver or ultraviolet marker: thieves may not take marked property, as they are harder to sell.

Don’t leave boxes on your nature strip when you purchase new items: this advertises to would-be burglars what you have inside, so cut up any boxes and put them in your recycling bin.

Install ‘Find My’ applications on electronics and GPS trackers on motor vehicles to help police locate your missing valuables.


car parked outside Australian home with gate open

Check your property's entry points, including gates, garages and doors. Image: Supplied.

Join Neighbourhood Watch

By joining Neighbourhood Watch, you become an active part of your community’s crime prevention efforts. Bambi Gordon, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch Victoria, encourages all Victorians to join Neighbourhood Watch.

"Knowing your neighbours isn’t just about friendship and community connection," she says. "It is also a proven crime prevention tactic. Recognising who doesn’t belong can help to alert you to the potential for burglary or theft of cars. Joining your local Neighbourhood Watch can also give you access to local police so that you can share any general issues. As a Neighbourhood Watcher, you will have access to quality information about what is – and isn’t – happening in your community."

When you’re away, you can also ask a neighbour to help keep your home looking inhabited by collecting your mail, taking out and bringing in your bins, maintaining your lawns, and occasionally parking their car in your driveway.

"To prevent future crime, generate a customised report of the crime prevention tactics you can directly apply to your home," Bambi recommends. You can do this by visiting How Safe is My Place. This website and app helps you identify weak spots in your home security and provides tailored steps on how to improve it.

Seek additional support if needed

Experiencing a crime can be distressing and disruptive. You can learn more about the effects of crime on the government's Victims of Crime website. If you need additional support, seek out a mental health professional who can help you talk through the event and its aftermath.


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The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Ltd ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.