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Home Security - What We Can Learn from UK Crime Statistics


The Office for National Statistics routinely publishes updated crime statistics for England and Wales. These reports provide valuable insight into crime trends for various types of crime.

As noted in the report for the year ending December 2018, there have been continued declines in overall levels of crime over recent decades, but in that year there was no significant overall change. But it’s important to examine statistics related to specific types of crime as the aggregate trend can mask significant changes related to specific types of crime.

Crime Survey for England and Wales

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) has shown a long term reduction in most categories of theft. It reports that the overall number of theft offences has reduced by 68% since the end of 1995. But the latest CSEW shows a year-on-year 8% increase in the overall number of theft offences. The trend since March 2012 had been declining, so this recent apparent trend reversal is possibly worrying.

The recorded increase in reported theft offences is underpinned by a 23% increase in thefts from outside a dwelling. These offences include theft of wheelie bins, caravans, ‘for sale’ signs and other items left outside of properties.

Although the crime of theft is considered to be well-reported to police, as people need incident numbers to support insurance claims, more minor thefts which often include items from outside properties, are less likely to be reported due to the low value of the items involved. So it’s highly likely that the number of low value thefts from outside of properties is higher than has been recorded.

Fall in Burglary Offences

Previous CSEW reports had indicated rises in reported burglary crimes but the latest assessment for the year ending December 2018 shows a decrease of around 3%. This recent change is not enough to derive a trend that would indicate a longer term pattern. Domestic burglary crime rates have remained stable since the year ending March 2017.

Metal Thefts Increase

In the year ending March 2018, police records show a 25% increase in metal theft offences. This striking increase comes after a prolonged decreasing trend since March 2013. Around 46% of these thefts were related to vulnerable infrastructures such as railway networks, construction sites, abandoned houses and graveyards. It’s thought that this high increase in metal theft crime has been due to rising metal prices and growing demand.

CSEW Burglary Insight

The Crime Survey for England and Wales provides valuable ‘Nature of Crime’ tables which offer valuable insight regarding various aspects of the crimes. Here are some selected excerpts related to burglary crimes.

Domestic Burglary Timing

The percentages of burglaries carried out in the evenings and at night are the highest, consistently recorded at around 60% since 2008. Early evening and night time are the most typical time slots for burglaries. Weekdays have consistently been the most common days of the week when burglaries are carried out.

It is noteworthy that attempted domestic burglaries from non-connected domestic buildings (such as sheds and outhouses) almost always take place at night. Since 2007 the percentages have been mainly in excess of 80% with the most recent statistics indicating 86% of such burglaries took place at night.

Domestic Burglary Point of Entry

The ‘point of entry’ assessment considers only the front, rear, side and ‘more than one way’. Statistics since 2008 show that the front of domestic properties tends to be the most common point of entry, but the rear is very close. In some years the percentage of burglars that gained access to a domestic property from the back marginally exceeded those that entered from the front.

Domestic Burglary Method of Entry

Assessment of the method of entry used in burglaries and attempted burglaries considers doors, windows and ‘other’. Doors have consistently been used in over 70% of burglaries since 2008. Forcing the lock has been identified as the most common method used to gain entry via doorways.

Although entry via doors is and has been the most typical way in which burglars gain access to domestic property the vulnerability of windows is highlighted in the statistics showing around 25% to 30% of domestic burglaries have occurred due to entrance via this path.

Damage Caused in Domestic Burglaries

The ‘Nature of Crime’ tables provide some insight into the types of damage caused during domestic burglaries. The important takeaway from these metrics is that in around 50% of cases since 2008, some form of damage has been caused. Most commonly this has been damage to an outside door, damage to a lock or a broken window.

Items Stolen in Domestic Burglaries

The ‘Nature of Crime’ tables tell us that, since 2008, around 60% to 70% of burglary cases resulted in some items being stolen. The most recent statistics indicate the following items are most at risk:

  • Purses, wallets and money cards.
  • Jewellery.
  • Computer equipment.
  • Electrical goods.
  • Watches.

Home Security Trends Since 2008

Trends in home security precautions since 2008 show some interesting changes.

  • The use of window locks has increased from 87% to 90%.
  • The use of double or deadlocks has remained consistent, currently around 83%.
  • The use of external lights and sensors has grown from 43% to 50%.
  • The use of internal lights and sensors has remained consistent, currently around 24%.
  • The use of security chains and security bolts has also remained consistent, currently around 33%.
  • The use of burglar alarms has also remained consistent, currently around 31%.

It has been noted that 63% of households that experienced burglary had either nil security or less than the basic level of home security.

Important Takeaways from the Crime Statistics Report

Here’s a summary of the key points derived from this latest report:

  • The latest Crime Survey for England and Wales shows an 8% increase in the overall number of theft offences.
  • A major contribution to this apparent overall increase in reported thefts has been a 23% increase in thefts from outside properties.
  • Items stolen for outside dwellings include wheelie bins, caravans, `for sale` signs and other items left outdoors.
  • Sheds, garages and outbuildings are most vulnerable to night-time burglary.
  • Although recorded theft crimes increased in the 2018 report, burglaries decreased by around 3%.
  • Metal thefts have increased by around 25%, primarily from vulnerable infrastructures such as railway networks, construction sites and abandoned properties. Thought to be due to rising metal prices and demand.
  • Domestic burglaries tend to be carried out in the evening and at night.
  • Burglars typically gain entry via the front of properties with the front door being the most common method of entry.
  • Damage is caused in around 50% of domestic burglary cases, primarily to a door, lock or window.
  • Items stolen tend to be valuable, resellable items that can be carried away easily such as purses, wallets, money cards, jewellery, computers, electrical goods and watches.
  • Around 63% of households that experienced burglary either had nil security or their home security was not adequate.

Our recommendations are:

  1. Secure items that are left outside such as wheelie bins to prevent them being taken away.
  2. Implement rigorous security around your shed, garage or outhouses where valuable items are stored.
  3. Use rigorous perimeter security precautions around infrastructure that may be attractive to metal thieves.
  4. Bolster home security measures to both deter and prevent burglaries.

If you need help or advice regarding any aspect of your security requirements we are here to help. Just give us a call on 01273 475500 for free, impartial advice.

This message was added on Thursday 4th July 2019


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