Burglary trends across the UK

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Between July 2019 and July 2020, 348,291 cases of household domestic burglary were reported to the police in the UK.1 But while there was a 28% decrease in reported burglaries between March and May - when people were more likely to be at home during lockdown – the easing of restrictions in June led to an increase in recorded incidents for the first time this year.2

With the number of burglaries now appearing to be on the rise, we use consumer research, police data and ONS data to examine the items that are most commonly stolen and the type of properties that are typically targeted, as well as offer advice on how to help protect your home.

Number of households targeted by burglary

 

 

Monthly recorded burglaries by police force

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Comparison of selected items

Chart showing comparison of selected items

 

 

The number of burglaries each police force deals with varies significantly, and those that cover more populated areas are likely to have more cases reported.

Between July 2019 and 2020 the Metropolitan Police - which handles incidents across London - reported the highest number of burglaries of any force in the UK (74,076), while the West Midlands Police reported the most outside of the capital (23,442).1

In contrast, the City of London Police - responsible for the historic centre of London and the smallest police force in the country - experienced the lowest number of burglaries with 302.

Despite a significant disparity in the typical volume of cases, 41 out of 42 police forces (98%) saw a decline in reported burglaries between March and May 2020. There were 25,279 cases reported in March, but by May this had decreased to only 18,299 reported cases – a 28% average decrease across the UK.2

Excluding the British Transport Police (which deals with a very low number of cases), Lincolnshire Police experienced the biggest drop in this period, with less than half the number of burglaries being reported in May (173) compared to March (357).2 

Staffordshire Police also reported a decrease of more than half, while Devon and Cornwall Police reported the only rise (from 277 to 291).2

However, since the UK started to ease out of lockdown there has been a small increase in the number of reported burglaries. Between May and July over three quarters of all police forces reported a rise (79%), and there was an overall average increase (17%) in incidents.2

Certain areas also appear to be more affected than others, with Lincolnshire Police reporting a 102% increase and South Wales Police reporting a rise of 48%. This is in contrast to Cheshire and Northern Ireland police forces, where cases fell by 14% and 9% respectively during the same period.2

We also investigated the items burglars look for when targeting a property. We conducted a study of 1,003 UK adults who have been burgled to find out what was stolen from their homes.

The findings show that jewellery is the most common item, with more than a third (36%) of people reporting this as stolen. Money/cards, TVs, laptops, desktop PCs and watches are the other most common items.3

This also lines up with analysis of official ONS data taken between 2007 and 2018, which shows the same five items most commonly stolen from inside a domestic property.5

However, our consumer research also highlighted some more unusual items that were taken during burglaries, including cigarettes, sports equipment and even children’s toys, which were all stolen in 5% of cases.

Common items stolen in burglaries

In terms of location, those in the South West (44%) and London (42%) are more likely to have jewellery stolen than any other part of the UK. 

Mobile phones are more likely to be stolen in both the Midlands and London than anywhere else in the country, with 26% and 25% of respondents experiencing this type of theft, respectively.

However, Londoners report the lowest number of TVs being stolen at only 17%. This is 10% less than those in East Anglia (27%), which has the highest rate of theft for TVs in the country. 

The most recent ONS data reveals that between April 2017 and March 2018 the average cost of stolen items from inside a property during a burglary was £1,840.5

Average cost of stolen items

Between April 2007 and March 2018 there was a 129% rise in the average cost of items stolen from inside a property, from £805 to £1,840. However, this figure fluctuated significantly over the period analysed, and is skewed by a small number of offences with high costs.5

The average cost for items stolen from outside the property rose by 66% in the same period - from £100 (between April 2007 and March 2008) to £166 (between April 2017 and March 2018). This lower average value suggests that items left outside tend to be less expensive.5

Average over 10 years

Between April 2018 and March 2019, ONS data shows that semi-detached houses were the most common property type targeted, with 10,586 households reporting a domestic burglary4.

Semi-detached houses are targeted most frequently, which may be due to the lower risk of being caught at an end property.

Homes with no children living there were targeted more frequently than households with children – 25,081 adult-only households reported domestic burglaries, which is two thirds of all burglaries reported during that time.

The location of the property also appears to impact the risk level. Those living in the suburbs of a large town or city saw the highest number of burglaries between April 2018 and March 2019 with 7,326 reported burglaries, compared to 6,148 in the towns or cities.4

It is likely that suburbs hold higher value properties, which is why they are targeted more than those in cities. 

Our research also reveals the impact of not locking your house up efficiently. Over half of respondents who have been burgled (65%) admitted that not securing their home properly led to a burglary. Nearly one third of respondents (30%) said they either forgot to set an alarm or left a side, back door or window unlocked.

Percentage of people who admitted to not securing their homes

Domestic burglaries both inside and outside a property are most likely to happen on a weekday. Between April 2007 and March 2018, over two thirds (69%) of thefts from inside a property took place between Monday and Friday, and more than half (59%) also happened during the day.5

When it comes to burglaries from outside the property, such as a driveway or garden, unsurprisingly over half (57%) of thefts happen between the hours of 6pm and 6am. Nearly a quarter (24%) taking place between midnight and 6pm when people are most likely to be asleep.5

Percentage of thefts that happen during the day

Domestic burglaries both inside and outside a property are most likely to happen on a weekday. Between April 2007 and March 2018, over two thirds (69%) of thefts from inside a property took place between Monday and Friday, and more than half (59%) also happened during the day.5

When it comes to burglaries from outside the property, such as a driveway or garden, unsurprisingly over half (57%) of thefts happen between the hours of 6pm and 6am. Nearly a quarter (24%) taking place between midnight and 6pm when people are most likely to be asleep.5

Extra precautions

Securing your home efficiently when you leave and at night is the most effective way of reducing your risk of burglary.

There are a number of precautions you can take to make sure your home is less likely to be broken into:

1

Secure all doors

Make sure your door-frames are strong, hinges are protected, and no-one can fit their arm through the letterbox to unlock the door

2

Lock the windows and doors

A high percentage of burglaries happen as a result of windows and doors being left open

3

Add security cameras

Add security cameras: Although this is potentially a costly solution, it can deter burglars as well as helping your case by providing evidence if you are a victim

If the unthinkable does happen, it’s best to be prepared with home and contents insurance. Home and contents insurance helps protect your possessions from loss, damage and theft.

Policies will cover all sorts of items including gadgets, electrical items, money, furniture and clothing. Particularly valuable items such as bikes and jewellery will need to be mentioned separately when taking out a policy.

Preventative actions such as installing high quality locks and burglar alarms or joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme can all help reduce your premiums.

Shopping around for the right home insurance is the best way to get a good deal. Insurers tend to offer the best deals to new customers, so sticking with an existing policy when it comes to your renewal date could mean you miss out on a saving.

To get a quote in less than five minutes and protect the things that matter the most to you click here.

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1Data taken from Police.uk crime data July 2019 – July 2020 

2Data taken from Police.uk crime data March 2020 – July 2020. Staffordshire and Sussex excluded due to missing data.

3All consumer research figures according to research carried out by Research Without Barriers conducted between 27th March 2020 and 31st March 2020, sampling 1,003 UK adults who have been burgled

4Data taken from ONS property crime table 2018-2019

5Data taken from ONS nature of crime: other household theft table 2017-2018

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