A Creeper Burglary: Restorative Justice Case Study
An overnight “creeper” burglary occurred in a residential dwelling. Harry - the burglar - got into the house through an unlocked back door. He took cash, a phone, a camera, and other small items of monetary and significant sentimental value were stolen, as well as food and alcohol. He was caught because he left DNA at the property.
Lily and Michael, the homeowners, decided to take part in a direct restorative process with Harry. They said they were concerned that Harry may be vulnerable because he was stealing food and had committed a number of burglaries in the area, as well as other previous offences. They thought Restorative Justice may support him in not reoffending. They were initially less concerned about the impact of the burglary on themselves.
Harry was in custody in Kent. He agreed to take part in a restorative process as he wanted to apologise as he was aware of Lily and Michael's ages.
Preparation meetings were held with both Harry and Lily and Michael separately. Lily and Michael were able to reflect on the emotional impact of the burglary. They had also been burgled 20 years before, which still had an impact, and realised that the recent burglary had made them feel vulnerable, cautious and, less trusting.
With support from the Harry's offender manager, a face-to-face meeting was held. Lily and Michael travelled by train, with travel costs reimbursed. We completed a comprehensive risk assessment with them. They said they were both anxious about going to a prison and meeting Harry, but they were looking forward to being part of the Restorative Justice process. The RJ Coordinator talked to them about the procedures for prison visits in depth, which helped to ease their worries.
Lily and Michael were able to say how the burglary had affected them, and how it had bought back feelings from 20 years ago, which left them feeling insecure in their home.
Harry was nervous about the meeting. He became emotional listening to their accounts, and made many apologies which were accepted. He answered all of the questions they asked and accepted he hadn't thought about the impact on others at the time of the offence as he was homeless, needed money, and was thinking only himself. He was able to reassure Lily and Michael that they hadn't been specifically targeted.
Lily and Michael were happy their questions had been answered and were grateful that Harry been brave enough to meet them. They had imagined him to be much more threatening than he is, and said they would like to support and help him integrate back into the community when he's released from prison.
They believed he has lots of positive qualities and strengths that, with support, could help to stop offending. He agreed to work with support offered and both parties agreed to exchange letters through a third party (currently the RJ Co-Ordinator).
Harry was pleased he had met with Lily and Michael. He said they were an amazing couple he would like to be friends with. He said he respected them being so honest with him, and felt bad that Michael had been angry with himself as it wasn’t his fault.
Harry said the conference had been uncomfortable at the start but effective. He can see that it can have a positive effect on everyone involved. He would be happy to recommend to his peers, but that the process should never be mandatory because that would make it less effective.
Lily and Michael were delighted to meet Harry and that the process had been positive and uplifting for them, and hoped to be updated on Harry's progresses. They would recommend the process to any victim of crime.