Earlier this month, the Independent featured radio columnist Chris Maume’s account of his recent house burglary. A few days before Chris and his family were due to go on a much-anticipated holiday to Barcelona, Chris’s young son awoke to find several valuable items stolen, and the house disturbed. The sash window in the family’s living room had been left wide open, and the window bolt had been snapped. The holiday was forced to be cancelled, as the family passports had also been stolen. The burglars had been within feet of Chris’s children as they slept, leaving the family feeling violated and intruded on, as well as with plans in ruin. Fortunately, the intruder left a footprint on his daughter Eve’s saxophone practice sheet, and somewhat miraculously, the Metropolitan Police found, brought in and charged the culprit.
However the lasting effect of burglary is a profound one, with new statistics showing the long-term results on those who’ve been the victim of house theft. Victim Support recently conducted a study as part of the Take No More crime prevention campaign. The study found that one in four burglary victims experience some kind of mental health issue, with 38 per cent worried about becoming a victim of other violent crime. A few years ago, another Victim Support survey found that 57 per cent of victims said they experienced difficulty sleeping, while 26 per cent reported “feeling tearful” and the same percentage “feeling more aggressive”.
Chris finished the piece with the comment,
“In the end, it’s not about the stuff, all of which can be replaced. It’s not even about the admin hassle, the list-making, the dealings with insurance companies who call all the shots. It’s that basic, primeval desire to be safe in one’s own home. And when the burglar took our passports he stole a week of our lives. We’ll never get that back.”