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Impact of Burglary Upon Victims

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 20 Issue: 3 Dated: (July 1980) Pages: 261-275
M Maguire
Date Published
15 pages
Based upon interviews with 322 victims of residential burglary in England conducted between 4 and 10 weeks after the burglary was reported, victim reactions are analyzed and ways of reducing debilitating effects are suggested.
Findings showed that about 25 percent (40 percent of all female victims) were seriously shocked or distressed at having their homes burglarized, and more than a month after the incident, only one-third of the victims said they had fully recovered from the experience. The overall impression was of people struggling to regain a lost sense of security. In the most serious cases of distress, the incident may have triggered latent psychological problems. Certain categories of people, notably women who have been separated from their husbands by death or divorce, appear to be particularly vulnerable to acute distress. A more general problem is the sense of insecurity caused by the knowledge that threatening strangers have entered one's home, a place considered to be one's private territory under personal control. Victim debilitating reactions might be reduced or treated by training police to relate to victims' concerns and reactions, rather than communicating to the victims that the incident is routine and unimportant. In cases of severe distress, police should be prepared to refer victims to appropriate counseling services, possibly a program especially directed to the needs of criminal victims. Tabular data, footnotes and 25 references are provided.