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Homes Within 400 Metres of Burglaries at Greater Risk

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Security experts are issuing further warnings of how the cost of living crisis is likely to drive an increase in domestic burglaries. In this post we highlight the risks of repeat or near-repeat burglaries and the precautions we need to take.

Crime figures collected under Freedom of Information (FoI) laws from 39 UK police forces show how officers recorded over 1,002,228 residential burglaries between April 2017 and March 2022. While all police forces reported a drop in house break-ins during the Covid-19 pandemic, crime rates are indicated to be escalating, as reported in our recent post on rising rural crime.

It`s noteworthy that Hampshire Constabulary and Kent Police refused to provide crime figures in response to the FoI request while Lincolnshire Police, Nottinghamshire Police and West Mercia Police didn’t respond at all. 

The UK’s largest police force, the Metropolitan Police, recorded the greatest number of domestic burglaries over this period (255,617), followed by Manchester Police (92,007) and West Midlands Police (67,981). The cost of living crisis with rising food prices, soaring energy bills and the likelihood of deep recession has prompted many security experts to issue warnings that desperate circumstances are likely to drive an increase in residential burglaries across all areas.

2008 Credit Crunch Crime Wave

Crime records show how the financial crisis of 2007-2008, referred to as the ‘Great Recession’, sparked a significant increase in acquisitive crimes including theft and burglary. Figures derived from 31 police forces in England and Wales show a notable increase in burglaries during the last four months of 2008. It’s therefore not surprising to hear security professionals and police forces warning people about the likelihood of an imminent crime wave due to this latest financial crisis.

UK locksmiths have said they noticed how people became increasingly desperate during the 2008 financial crisis, prompting some to resort to crime to make ends meet. Otherwise law-abiding people, who couldn`t see any alternative, are reported to have stolen items they could easily resell, such as electronics and jewellery, to get some much needed cash to keep them afloat.

We have already seen how a shortage of vehicle parts, during the pandemic, prompted an increase in automobile thefts as opportunist criminals took advantage of the demand. Sadly, the cost of living crisis is expected to drive a similar escalation in residential burglaries.

home security
Home Security is Essential

 

Repeat and Near-Repeat Victimisation

Research suggests that, after a burglary has taken place, both the burgled household and their near neighbours have a higher risk of being targeted. According to the UK College of Policing, homes withing 400m of a burgled premises are at greater risk of being targeted for the subsequent six weeks after an offence and evidence suggests the risk of burglary is even greater for the immediate neighbours of burgled properties.

Research also shows how the majority of repeat and near-neighbour domestic burglaries are often committed by the same perpetrator and these repeat offenders tend to be more prolific burglars.

One of the reasons why burglars carry out repeat or near-repeat burglaries is their awareness of the property layout and familiarity with security precautions. Neighbouring properties, sharing the same architectural design and floor plans, are commonly targeted because they know the properties interior room layout. And when burglars share details of their successful break-ins with criminal associates the information can prompt further burglaries.

Anecdotal reports suggest criminals will revisit previously successful burglary targets after the homeowners have replaced stolen items, thanks to their insurance. Empty boxes and packaging left outdoors can provide signals telling opportunist thieves there are brand new valuables inside that are worth stealing.

And burglars are known to use markings, euphemistically called the ‘Da Pinchi Code’, to show whether a property is worth targeting. Their signs may indicate the type of person who lives at the property, whether they are old, if the property is alarmed and other information useful to those with criminal intent. Chalk is typically used but paint or string tied around a lamp post have also been recognised as burglar markings.

home security asset marking
Asset Marking for Property Security

 

Cocooning to Prevent Near-Repeat Residential Burglary

Cocooning, also known as ‘cocoon watch’ or ‘super cocooning’, refers to a collection of crime prevention initiatives designed to combat repeat and near-repeat victimisation. Basically, the activities involve providing timely crime prevention advice and guidance to burglary victims along with their neighbours and others who live nearby. Other precautions include beefing up security measures, security-marking of assets and developing neighbourhood crime prevention strategies, all carried out immediately when a burglary is committed.

This technique originated in Australia where a pilot scheme involving the distribution of crime-prevention pamphlets to burglary victims and their neighbouring properties, within just a couple of days of a crime, was found to have a profound, positive impact. Further research involving police forces from Australia, USA and the UK showed that using these techniques resulted in a notable reduction in repeat and near-repeat burglaries.

Burglary Prevention Advice

Evidence demonstrates how physical security measures reduce crime by making properties more difficult to break into and acting as powerful deterrents. Strengthening physical security has been one of the key measures recommended in all residential crime prevention initiatives.

Data analysis on the impact specific physical security measures have on burglary shows that robust window locks and door locks provide the greatest benefit. It also shows how implementing more security measures by layering, provides greater protection.

The Neighbourhood Watch Network is promoting the use of their “WIDEN” mnemonic as a security reminder for people to use when leaving their property. It stands for:

  • Windows
    • Keep your windows locked.
  • Interior
    • Put interior lights on a timer to suggest someone is at home.
  • Doors
    • Double or deadlock all doors.
  • Exterior
    • Install motion triggered exterior lighting.
  • Neighbours
    • Support your neighbours by keeping watch over their properties.

The police had previously used the “WIDE” mnemonic, but the Neighbourhood Watch organisation added “N” as they recognise how neighbourly communities play an important part in preventing burglary. They`ve published a useful leaflet that highlights how paying attention to these basic aspects of home security makes a property 50 times more secure.

It`s worthwhile keeping this simple mnemonic in mind and making certain these important precautions are always used, even for only short periods away from home.

Layered Security

We’ve previously described and highlighted the benefits of a layered approach to property security.

To avoid becoming a crime victim due to the anticipated cost-of-living crime wave we strongly recommend you review your current property security precautions. Identifying weaknesses and making sensible security improvements now will help prevent your home being targeted by criminals.

And importantly, pay attention if you hear a burglary has occurred in the area where you live as probability suggests there will be attempted repeat or near-repeat offences at nearby properties within only a short period of time.

Here are a couple of our previous posts providing useful guidance on securing your home:

Look at These Home Security Products

Here are some useful links to home security products and categories from our online store. 

If you have any questions about residential or workplace security or if you have any special requirements remember we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll provide you with free, expert advice.

This message was added on Wednesday 24th August 2022

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