How to Cope with a Robbery and Ways to Prevent It
Last term, somewhere around November, my house was robbed.
I was in an interview to be an Ambassador for the Warwick Welcome Service when it happened. I had such an enjoyable time as my teammates were collaborative and we had so much fun making buildings out of pasta, and that was when I knew that none of us were in an Engineering course. I had a good feeling about my interview but as I checked my phone at the bus stop, I heard about the news.
I have always been a cautious person. I make sure everything is locked before I leave the house. Even when I felt like I didn’t lock it when I’m metres away from my house, I would go back to my house to recheck it. On that day, my door was locked. But long story short, the robbers managed to find their way into the house and used an axe to forcefully open my door knob.
I lost my laptop and my electric watch charger, for some reason. My friends lost some cash and one even got her old mobile phone stolen.
It’s been about 4 months since the robbery has occurred. So here I am ready to tell you about how to cope with a robbery.
Immediately after the Robbery
1. Call the police, or make an online report.
That should be your first call. Even if you are too shaken to do anything, do like what my housemate did. She called a male friend to see the house with her and check whether the robber has left the house or not and also notified other housemates about the robbery. As shaken as you are at that time, get other people’s help. The male friend contacted my housemate who then called the police.
2. Check what has been stolen.
When the police picks up the call, s/he will ask you what has been stolen, make sure you have identified everything that has been stolen, if possible. If there is anything you can do about it. If you have the serial number, do call the pawn shops around your area to ask whether your item is there. If you are under Warwick Accommodation, check whether you can get compensation for your items, if you can, make sure you have the serial number of your items with you.
3. Contact your Landlord
Ask him or her to immediately change the locks of the main door. Your landlord is responsible for your wellbeing of the house, hence you must ensure that he or she change the locks of your door to ensure that the same thing does not happen again.
4. If they’ve stolen your laptop, change ALL your passwords.
If you’ve saved password online, immediately find another device and change all your password. This is to avoid identity theft. Go to the bank in the next working day to change your debit card or online banking details. You may not remember if you have accidentally saved your card details in your laptop. Even if you feel like you didn’t, go to the bank still, as prevention is better than cure. They’ve already stolen your laptop, you wouldn’t want them to steal your student allowances (and identity) either.
5. Ask your Department if they can loan you a laptop
I was very fortunate because the Economics department has allowed me to loan their laptop when my laptop was stolen. I needed to use a laptop to do my assignments hence temporary laptop has truly helped me do my assignments.
How to Emotionally Cope after the Robbery
1. It IS going to be traumatising and it is okay to feel afraid.
Yes, the after-effect of a robbery can be very traumatising. Take it from me. After the robbery, I didn’t feel safe sleeping in my own room. I felt intruded. It is one of the most uncomfortable feeling where you just don’t feel safe. You look around everywhere especially when you’re in the house. Every wave of noise may trigger you and
it is okay.
In my own experience, I was unable to go to the kitchen for the whole month, as it was suspected that the robbers came to the window, it was the only possible way, though my housemates and I never really found out how they got in. I was fortunate to have friends who have allowed me to stay at their place temporarily while I recover from the traumatic experience. For me, time was really the key to heal.
2. Stay in Contact with your Family and Friends
At this critical point, it is important to always make sure you attach yourself with your family and friends. Please do not isolate yourself from other people. If you think you are the only one who felt this, your housemates do too. Discuss with your housemates and landlord on what to do to prevent the robbery from happening again. I also called my mother very often and she recommended me to go back home. To be honest, going back home was really all I needed to get myself back together.
3. Utilise the services provided from this University (Student Union and Wellbeing Support Services)
Since this was my first time experiencing robbery, I went to the Student Union the next day to ask them what to do after the robbery. Hence, the steps I said above was mostly what was recommended to me by the staff at the Student Union. If you are dealing with trauma as well, it would be beneficial if you go for the Wellbeing Support session at the Senate House. If it is for cases like robbery, they will prioritise you first hence the waiting time is short.
Ways to Prevent a Robbery
I can tell you this, robberies can happen anywhere. Regardless where you live, and it is not something you can control when it has already happened. But you can try to mitigate the risk of a robbery.
1. Buy a surveillance camera.
It would be useful to have a surveillance camera so that if anything, you may be able to get proof that someone has broken into the house. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive one online. I have attached a link here so that if you have experienced a robbery, you can split the costs among your housemates and get one. It is pretty simple to install it on your own as well.
2. Register your valuables online
Register your valuables at https://www.immobilise.com.
It is a National Property Registration hence the police may be able to track your items if it has been stolen.
3. Make sure you lock everything and hide your valuables at the most unlikely places.
My mistake was that I didn’t hide my laptop at a secure place, hence it was easy to find it. If you find that carrying your valuables everywhere with you is a burden, I would definitely recommend finding a place secure to hide your items. Remember, robberies can happen anywhere and this is a stage where you are becoming an adult hence this is where you must learn how to be street smart.
4. When looking for a house, always ask how is the security around the area.
My housemates and I made the mistake of renting this house because of its cheap rent. Little did we know that it comes with a price. Always make sure to ask around about the safety and security of the area.
Overall, I feel a lot better now because of the support given by the University. The advice that I’ve written here are merely tips that I received from the Student Union and the police that I met at a drop-in session in the Library. Hence all the more reason I feel a lot safer in the university. They were very willing to support my wellbeing throughout my recovery and I am super fortunate for this.
Regardless, please be cautious wherever you go and drop a comment if you need any kind of support or if you’re a prospective student and you want to know more about the security in an off-campus accommodation. There are plenty of posts by other bloggers which could guide you as you go house hunting. Good luck!
Stay safe, everyone!