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Dealing with Break & Enter

Breaking and entering, (B&E) is classified as the most serious property crime in Canada today. But, victims of a B&E can suffer more than the loss of their property. They may experience strong feelings, such as anger, fear, and a sense of personal violation.

As a victim of a B&E, you may have feelings that are difficult for you to deal with and you may feel confused and frustrated by the police and court system. You may also want to know how to protect your home in the future. This pamphlet will answer some of your questions. It will reassure you that what you are feeling is completely normal and tell you some of the ways you can help yourself cope with this difficult time. It will also tell you where you can get help or more information.

What You May Experience

  • Shock and Disbelief - You may feel shock and disbelief that something like this has actually happened to you, that your home has been broken into and your belongings gone through and stolen.
  • Sense of Violation - Part of the shock of a B&E is the sense of violation you may feel. This sense of violation and loss is both financial and emotional. Your privacy and sense of personal security and trust have been taken away from you, as well as your possessions.
  • Anger and Frustration - Anger at the intruders is a very common feeling. You may feel frustration because you are not able to express this anger directly at those who committed the crime. You may also feel frustrated and angry with the police and the court system, especially if police have not been able to return your property or find the people who did this to you.
  • Fear - After a B&E, you may fear that your home is not a safe place anymore. You may feel uncomfortable being alone at home, or worry when you are not there. Many people fear that their home will be broken into again. This may happen, and asking your local police or Victim Assistance Program at the police station about crime prevention can help to lessen the chances of another B&E happening. Some people fear that they are being singled out, but most of the time the thieves want your possessions and did not break into your home because of who or what you are.
  • Suspicion - Many victims of B&E find themselves full of suspicion about strangers in their neighbourhoods. Police departments encourage citizens to phone the police about suspicious persons or activities.
  • Stress - After a B&E you may experience a lot of stress, and you may develop physical symptoms, such as sleeping or eating difficulties. Anxiety and fear can add to the stress. It can also be stressful dealing with the frustrations and confusions of the police and court system. If you have children, dealing with their feelings can also be stressful.
  • Guilt - Victims often feel guilt, as if there might have been something they could have done to help prevent the B&E. Of course, you are in no way to blame -- when someone else breaks the law it is not the victim's fault.

Dealing With Children's Feelings
Remember that children will experience the same feelings, but they may be more intense, and children may have a hard time expressing their feelings in words. Their fear, anxiety, or anger may be expressed in changes in behaviour. They may have nightmares, or trouble eating or sleeping. They may go back to earlier childhood behaviours, such as bed-wetting. Some children might become more aggressive and some might become quiet and withdrawn. All of these responses are normal reactions to stress. Do not hesitate to see your doctor for help in dealing with these feelings, especially if they go on for a long time.

What You Can Do
You have been through an experience that is frightening and disruptive. Remember that what you are feeling is perfectly normal and that these feelings will pass in time. Meanwhile, there are some things you can do to make this time easier and to make things better for yourself in the future.

Looking after Yourself
Dealing with a B&E can be very stressful, so be sure to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally:

  • If you are frightened, get someone to stay at your home with you, or stay at a friend's or with a member of your family for a night or two.
  • Talking about the experience is a very good way to relieve your feelings. Family and friends can be a great support.
  • Children will often need special reassurance at this time. They may be frightened and need to know that their home can once again be a safe place. Encourage your children to talk about their feelings.
  • For you or your family, signs of stress, such as difficulty sleeping, depression, or anxiety, will fade with time. In the meantime, you may want to see your family physician for advice or referral.

Dealing With the Justice System
After a B&E you will have to deal with the police and you may also have to go to court. The police will ask questions as part of their investigation. If they find the person whom they think is responsible for the crime, you may be able to get your property returned or get some compensation from the offender. For more information, ask your local police or Victim Assistance Program.

Making Your Home More Secure

  • After a B&E, you may want to know how to prevent this from happening again. Making your home more secure can also help you deal with your feelings of anger, frustration, and fear.
  • Consider becoming involved in your local Block Watch or Neighbourhood Watch Crime Prevention program -- an excellent way to help safeguard your home. Adding extra outdoor lighting, getting deadbolt locks on doors, and seeing that sliding doors and windows cannot be forced or lifted out of their frames are ways that you can make your home more secure.
  • There are many pamphlets with more ideas on home security available at your local police department. For more information and advice, contact the Medicine Hat Victim Assistance Program.

For information or assistance available to victims of crime in your community contact the Victim Assistance Unit at 403-529-8480 (Please note that this is not a crisis line).

IN AN EMERGENCY, CALL 9-1-1

Contact:

Victim Assistance Coordinator
Ms. Roseanne Kaupp
phone: (403) 529-8480
roseanne.kaupp@mhps.ca

Volunteer Coordinator
Ms. Deidre Giesbrecht
phone: (403)-502-8918
deidre.giesbrecht@mhps.ca

Unit Assistant
Ms. Nathalie Castets
phone: (403) 529-8469
nathalie.castets@mhps.ca