As the clocks go back and the number of domestic burglaries rises, research reveals it is the psychological impact of a break-in that does the most damage Statistics show there is a spike in burglaries over thewinter months, with opportunists seemingly taking advantage of the darker afternoons and evenings. Now research commissioned by Everest Home Improvements shows that a break-in can have devastating and far-reaching consequences that go way beyond handling the practicalities.

Although dealing with the insurance requirements (20 per cent) and clearing up the mess (15 per cent) were felt to be the worst part of being burgled for a small proportion of those questioned, the vast majority said it was the emotional consequences that left the biggest mark. More than half of the respondents to the survey said the feeling that someone had been in their home (57 per cent) or having their privacy violated (52 per cent) was the worst part of dealing with a break-in.

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The aftermath of burglary should not be underestimated, with almost half (47 per cent) of homeowners saying it left them feeling unsafe in their own home and over a third (38 per cent) saying they were unable to sleep well following the burglary. More than a fifth (22 per cent) said they no longer liked being or sleeping in the house alone, with nearly one in ten (9 per cent) buying a dog as a result of the break-in and some even going as far as to move house completely.

This disturbing emotional legacy is brought into sharp focus at this time of year, with one in ten burglaries taking place in November, according to figures recently released for National Home Security Month.

Psychologist Emma Kenny explains: “The saying ‘home is where the heart is’ reflects the emotional connection that we feel when we think about the safe haven it provides. Having a space that is filled with our possessions and the people we love makes our home a unique and sacred territory, adding to our sense of personal wellbeing.

“Unfortunately, on occasion, this sense of security can be challenged due to things like burglary, with those affected often feeling that it impacts their overall wellbeing, which makes sense as suddenly a place that felt private and safe has been violated. The sacred space of the home becomes even more important to us in the darker months, as our circadian rhythms mean we instinctively yearn for a warm, safe sanctuary in which to shelter and wait out the winter.”

Paradoxically, although almost all (99 per cent) of the homeowners surveyed said that feeling secure in their homes was important or very important to them, only two thirds (69 per cent) of those who had locks on their windows said they always use them and one in seven (15 per cent) still leave their front doors unlocked, locking them only when the house is left unattended. This is despite official crime figures showing that in three quarters of burglaries the offender gains entry through a door, with a window being the point of entry in the majority of other cases.

Everest’s Marketing Director, Martin Troughton, says: “The research shows that the effects of burglary can be long term and far reaching, having a significant impact on our sense of security and wellbeing. Yet it also showed that many of us are still not doing the basics to put off opportunist burglars, such as simply locking our doors and windows – the most common points of entry for a break-in. As we head into the peak period of the year for burglaries, it is a good time to take stock of our security and ensure we’re not taking unnecessary risks with our homes and our wellbeing.

“By installing products that are ‘Secured by Design’ approved – a police initiative to ‘design out crime’ with physical security – and fitting virtually impenetrable locks such as our GrabLock mechanism, homeowners nowadays can have much greater reassurance and peace of mind when it comes to their home security. Advances in Smart technology also now provide a sophisticated and reliable way to help ensure our homes are as safe and secure as they can be.”