Household Burglary in the UK – Facts and Figures Burglaries are less common than most people think and violent attacks on people in their homes are extremely rare. This page is to acquaint you with some of the key facts and figures on burglary that you may not know.
How common is burglary? • Every 37 seconds a home somewhere in Britain is burgled. • Every year there are over 1 million burglaries and attempted burglaries. • 20% of households experience more than one incident a year. 13% are burgled twice and 7% three or more times. • Between 1981 and 1993 burglaries increased by 137%. There was a decline through the rest of the 1990’s but which has now leveled off and 2002 showed a 5% annual increase. Aggravated burglary (where the occupiers are home at the time) rose 14% in 2002.
In a road, the burglar will choose the property without visible signs of security, such as security lighting or alarm bell boxes, over those with such devices. • Households are more than twice as likely to be burgled if they’ve been burgled in the previous four years. • Most burglaries are not pre-planned, they’re committed by opportunist thieves who spot an open door, window, or valuables on display. • British Crime Survey statistics show that security devices, in particular intruder alarms, “..are very effective in reducing the risk of burglary..”
Who are the burglars? • 88% of burglars are males. 6% are committed by a male and a female together and 6% by a lone female. • The most likely age is 16 to 24 with 16% being of school age. • Recent changes in trends in domestic burglary and young male unemployment show striking similarities. The fact that drug possession offences rose 9% in 2002 must also be related, coupled with a 1% drop in the detection of drug trafficking. • Only half of all burglars are strangers. The other half are known by the victim by sight or to speak to or is known well.
How do they get in? • In 20% of burglaries they don’t even have to use force – they get in through an open window or unlocked door. • 70% enter through a door, with almost all the rest through a window. • A thief can get through any gap larger than a human head.
What happens in a burglary? • In a quarter of burglaries someone is at home and aware of what is happening. • In 20% of cases the victim sees the offender. • In 27% of cases there are two offenders. • Violence or threatening behavior is used in 10% of incidents. • Victims are emotionally affected in over 80% of all burglaries. Types of response in order of those reported most are: anger, shock, fear, loss of confidence or feeling vulnerable, and difficulty sleeping. • Property is stolen in 40% of incidents. The most popular being cash, jewellery, and DVD/video and stereo equipment. Theft of computer equipment is now twice as common as in 1995. • Only half of victims had the stolen property insured. • Clear-up rates for most property crimes are much lower than for crimes against the person with less than 15% of recorded domestic burglary offences detected in 1999/2000. • In only 9% of cases where something has been stolen is property returned.
When do burglaries happen? • Most take place after dark with more in the evening (32%), than during the night (23%). • 20% take place in the afternoon, 10% in the morning/afternoon. • 30% occur at the weekend.
The British Crime Survey (BCS) is a very important source of information about levels of crime and public attitudes to crime and other Home Office issues. The results play an important role in informing Home Office policy.
The BCS measures the amount of crime in England and Wales by asking people about crimes they have experienced in the last year. The BCS includes crimes which are not reported to the police, so it is an important alternative to police records. Victims do not report crime for various reasons. Without the BCS the government would have no information on these unreported crimes.
Between 1997 and 1999, the total number of burglaries fell significantly, by 21%. This follows a non-significant fall of 7% between 1995 and 1997. These recent falls reverse the trend of increasing levels of burglary during the 1980s and early 1990s, and the estimated number of burglaries in 1999 is below that in 1991
To establish which individual factors are most important in increasing risk, multivariate analysis is required. Such analysis of the 1996 and 1998 BCS concluded that the following factors increase the risk of burglary.
lack of security
low levels of occupancy
living in a detached house
living in inner-city areas
living in a household in which there is a single adult and children
head of household is young
household in which the occupants are Asian.
The risk of burglary in rural areas is well below the national average (2.6%). Between 1995 and 1999 the chance of being burgled in rural areas has declined and has remained at a little over half that for non-rural areas.
The BCS shows that security devices are effective in reducing the risk of burglary. For example, victims of burglary are less likely to have security measures in place at the time of the incident that non-victims.
Furthermore, victims of burglary with entry tend to have less security than victims of attempted burglary suggesting security is effective in thwarting at least some offenders.
Between 1998 and 2000, levels of home security continued to increase and this may partly account for the reduction in burglary over the period.
For example, 26% of households said they had a burglar alarm in 2000 and 75% window locks. The figures in 1998 were 24% and 71% respectively.
Burglary In pairs describe the pattern shown – then try to explain the pattern
In 44% of incidents burglars gained or tried to gain entry from the front of a dwelling. In 46% they approached the rear.
Burglars were most likely to target doors (71%), usually by forcing a lock (28%). Breaking door panels, forcing window locks and breaking glass in windows were also relatively common methods of entry.1
However, in 21% of burglaries with entry the burglar gained access through an unlocked door and in 6% via an open window. In the 1998 BCS the figures were 15% and 8% respectively.2
Only 6% of all burglaries involved the use of false pretences to gain access to the home, but this increased to 13% among households headed by someone aged 60 or over.
The most commonly stolen items in burglary with loss were cash, jewelry, videos and stereo equipment.
Since the 1998 BCS the proportion of burglaries involving the theft of computers and mobile phones has risen, while the theft of cash and household electrical goods, such as televisions, videos and stereos, has fallen
For burglaries with loss, the average mean gross value of property stolen was £1,273. This average though masks considerable variation. In 27% of burglaries with loss less than £100 worth of property was stolen, while in 32% the loss amounted to a £1,000 or more.
61% of burglaries involved damage to property. This was higher for attempts (73%) than when entry was gained (52%). Soiling and graffiti were rare, occurring in only 1% of all burglaries
The gross cost of damage averaged £138 for all burglaries. Almost two-thirds involved no damage or damage costing less than £50, but in a tenth the cost of damage amounted to at least £500. Average costs were higher for burglaries with entry (£164) than attempts (£99).
These costs may well be underestimates; they exclude indirect costs such as loss of earnings due to stolen property
The Cambridge burglary task force was established in1992 and amongst their research methods included interviews with local burglars. The research indicates that the majority of offenders live less than two miles from the scene of their offence,(Bennet,T 1995)
This is reinforced by the recent report ‘The Road to Nowhere:the evidence for travelling criminals’ Home Office Research Study 207 which states that most criminals tend to commit crime in areas local to where they live.
The origin, geographical distribution, frequency of occurrence and scale of the hazard.
Definition of burglary i.e. breaking and entering to remove property. Data sources e.g., newspapers, crime statistics and their limitations. Distribution within the urban area e.g., difference between inner city and suburbs. Frequency e.g. chance of repeat burglary. Scale e.g., type of goods/value/number affected.
· Loss of possessions. Fear of being in property · Damage to property, Paranoia, fear of repeat burglaries · Higher insurance/ refusal to Insecurity, depression—loss of work! · Cost of installing deterrents to prevent further break-ins.
Sources demonstrating the frequency of the hazard and reliability of these sources
Places to find Evidence:
Police Reports Statistics compiled for individual , local and national crime Insurance Data Used to assess risk/set insurance premiums. Government Reports Used to zero political aims onto particular types of crime and to target particular areas. Newspapers increase public awareness, but must be careful of bias and superficial conclusions
Individuals with the aid of private security companies take these measures. · Community policing—neighbourhood watches · Video cameras and increased visible police presence in troubled areas · Community awareness and education · Victim support for burglary/prevents vigilantly attitudes
· Crime profiles identify criminal types and methods or interception and rehabilitation also challenge route o crime e.g. poverty and deprivation. · Identification of areas of greatest risk, both individual areas but also property types · Resources can be given to the organisations which need it e.g. victim support, police initiatives · Response by house owners of improved or better security. Crime adapts by moving areas though.