Getting burglarized is a traumatic experience after which you may be considering whether or not you should move out.
Here’s the thing.
It is not necessary to move after a burglary. However, moving to a new place may be beneficial, especially if the victim is unable to deal with the emotional trauma and wants to avoid any risks of getting repeatedly burglarized.
Making the right decision can be a tricky thing to do, and it can be particularly difficult to take an objective look at what the right decision can be.
So allow me to walk you through some of the factors that should be considered before making such a decision.
The Odds of a Burglar Returning to the Same Property
One of the biggest fears victims have is in relation to how likely it is for a burglar to return.
Yes, some burglars are known to come back after a successful burglary. Some burglars come back even if the initial burglary was unsuccessful as well.
However, burglars do not return exactly the next day, week, or month.
Burglars are known sometimes to come back to the same neighborhood, too.
So if a house in your neighborhood has been recently burglarized, it is worth considering hardening your home and making it more secure against intruders.
It has been established that there is an uneven distribution when it comes to burglaries. In other words, a few victims account for a larger percentage of the overall burglaries. (I.e., some homes are experiencing more repeat burglaries than others.)
The same applies to certain areas and even countries. Some areas and countries observe a higher incidence of repeat burglaries than others.
The Data From the University of Western Australia
One study has found that:
- A repeat burglary is more likely to occur in the first 6 to 8 weeks of the first burglary.
- During the first 4 weeks, the risk of a repeat burglary was 12 times higher than the average expected burglary rates.
- About 16% of the burglarised properties accounted for 32% of the burglaries.
The Data From the Bureau of Justice Statistics
Another study based on the statistics provided by The Bureau of Justice Statistics through their National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) found that about 12% of burglary victims were also victims of a repeat burglary during the same year (2010).
The proportions were again very similar to what we see in other studies. Repeat burglary victims accounted for 34% of all burglaries in 2010.
Several reasons have been proposed as to why some properties may face higher odds of repeat burglaries than others:
- Underlying opportunity factors make some properties and areas more susceptible to break-ins.
- Some offenders are more likely to check up on areas and properties they have previously successfully burglarized.
- Some burglars may get tipped that certain areas and properties are easy picks.
An Analysis From the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing
The data from the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing offers similar findings.
About 60% of repeat burglaries happen during the first month and 10% during the second month of the initial burglary.
Around month 5 after the initial burglary, the data showed a slightly increased spike in repeat burglaries, after which the odds of getting burglarized again fell to the average mean rates.
That said, there was also a notable difference in the data when it came to the different regions.
For example, in Tallahassee, Florida, 51% of the repeats happened during the first month, with 25% during the first week. On the other hand, in Merseyside, England, 33% of the repeats happen during the first month, with only 11% during the first week.
Again we see similar trends here as well.
About 18% of the break-in victims also experienced a second repeat burglary during the same year, and that 18% accounted for about 39% of all break-ins that occurred in the same year.
The Burglary Barometer From Churchill Home Insurance
We have some interesting data from the Burglary Barometer from Churchill Home Insurance in the UK for 2022.
The data shows that 17% of Britons have been a victim of a burglary, of which about 44% got burglarized multiple times. Interestingly enough, about 0.5% of burglary victims got burglarized 5 times!
Those numbers for 2022 seem significantly different from the ones reported by Churchill in 2017, where it was revealed that there is a one in four chance of getting burglarized again in the same property.
When It Is Worth Moving to a New Place
The main consequences of a break-in can be roughly put into two general categories.
Moving out after a burglary can be a good decision if you cannot improve the safety of your home for some reason and do not want to risk getting burglarized again.
Moving out takes time and money, depending on how far away you are moving. In certain instances, it can end up being a very costly endeavor. A long-distance move can often cost several thousands of dollars.
For example, moving out may cost between $400 to upwards of $8,000.
In comparison, the average dollars lost due to burglary is often around $2,500 to $2,800, according to the data provided by the FBI.
So from a strictly financial point of view, moving out may not always be a good call. However, if we have to account for the odds of getting burglarized multiple times, moving to a new place may be a good decision.
This, however, does not account for any emotional trauma.
Although stolen items can often be replaced, especially if you have good insurance in place, things can look a little more difficult when dealing with the emotional trauma and stress victims may have to go through.
Being the victim of a burglary is a painful experience. And from an emotional point of view, moving out may be a good decision depending on how you feel after the burglary and whether or not you are able to recover emotionally.
In fact, according to research done by Allianz Insurance, it can take 8 months before burglary victims will start to feel safe again. But even then, more than half the victims reported that they did not feel completely safe.
On average, for about 10% of victims, the emotional impact of a burglary is so extreme that they decide to move out.
In a different study by Boundary (a home security system provider based in Scotland), the numbers were even higher. About 26% of break-in victims decided to move out.
The main reasons for moving out were a general sense of being unsafe, developing and having PTSD symptoms, and even experiencing physical pain, trembling, nausea, and sweating.
Things to Consider Before Deciding on Moving Out
Generally, it is not recommended to make hasty decisions, especially while being under heavy emotional stress.
That said, there are some things that should be considered before making a final decision, such as moving out.
Give Yourself Some Time
Recovering emotionally after a burglary can be very difficult not only due to the items lost but also because victims can feel violated and unsafe.
And one of the main issues is how long it may take you to get comfortable and feel safe living in the same place.
The time needed can vary from individual to individual. It is best to ride the wave of those emotions and understand that it can take months, if not longer, to feel safe again.
Installing a high-quality home security system and making your home more burglar-proof can give some peace of mind and help victims feel a bit safer.
It is also possible to never regain that same sense of safety and comfort, and it is not worth it to live in a constant state of worry, stress, and anxiety about whether this will happen again.
The other thing that can be mentally taxing is that if the burglars are never caught, you do not have a face to put to the name, so to speak. This can cause a lot of anxiety and suspicion and a general feeling of uneasiness.
There is also the other side of the coin where this decision may not be all up to you, especially if you have a partner and kids or living with relatives. When it comes to kids, an important question to ask yourself is whether you will be comfortable with your kids living in that area, too.
Things Within Your Control
It is worth taking some time to consider what actions you can take to make your home safer.
Most burglars are looking for easy targets. Those can be homes with significant safety oversights and weak points.
Installing a home security system with cameras, sensors, and motion detectors, more durable and harder-to-pick locks, making windows harder to break (especially the ones at the back of your house), keeping the yard trimmed and tidy, eliminating hiding spots and dark areas, are just some things that can make your home unappealing to burglars.
If a home looks like it will be difficult to break into, burglars will simply move on.
That is unless they are looking for something specific.
This brings us nicely to the next point, which is to make sure there is no reason they want to break in, to begin with.
And you may be giving burglars a good reason to break in without even realizing it.
Here are a few examples:
- Keeping valuables in places that can be easily seen from outside.
- You might have a gun club or other types of stickers on your car which advertise what valuables you may own.
- You have announced that you are going on a holiday or are going to be away from your home for a significant amount of time.
- There are good signs that nobody’s home, such as an unkempt yard or uncollected mail.
Burglars are known to also target homes that tend to be routinely vacant during the day. A good target would be a home where the owner has a consistent and predictable daily routine.
The overall attractiveness of the neighborhood and the accessibility of the property and the surrounding area may have a more significant role in burglaries.
Take an objective look at your neighborhood and the surrounding areas. Would you consider those areas or neighborhoods dangerous?
Are you located near both dangerous and wealthy neighborhoods?
Moving to a safer area might be better if you answered yes to any of those questions. That said, even if there are no dangerous areas nearby, affluent neighborhoods may still be targeted.
Take a look at the crime statistics for your area. This might provide a much-needed insight that may end up tipping the scales in one direction or another.
Generally, break-ins can occur anywhere. Even if you have all the best security measures in place, they all serve as a deterrent at best.
Also, talk to your neighbors. See what their perception of safety is. This can put things into perspective.
Sometimes, local people carry out burglaries and may get caught by the police, and it can be considered a one-off event and not a recurring trend.
Consider Your Kids
The effect a burglary can have on children should also be considered.
According to the research carried out by Allianz Insurance and Victim Support, a burglary can significantly impact children regardless of whether or not they were present during the burglary.
The research discovered that a burglary could increase bed-wetting, cause a drop in sleep quality and sense of safety and well-being, and even negatively impact school performance.
What’s more, this trauma was found to persist throughout children’s lives into adulthood as well.
Moving out, especially long-distance moves, can be particularly stressful for kids, as well.
On one side, it may not be worth putting your kids through two painful experiences back to back, so you have to consider the true impact a move can have on your kids.