How safe if your home?

How safe is your home?

In 2017, there were over 500,000 reported burglaries in the UK. The impact of a burglary extends beyond the value of the items stolen - for many, the most traumatic element is the loss of the feeling of security within their own homes. But what do people do to protect secure their homes, and how effective are these deterrents?

Through analysis of national crime figures over the past five years and home insurance claim data we can reveal burglary trends in the UK. In addition we sourced the views of the British public to uncover the methods of home protection most commonly enlisted and their views on home security.

When is burglary most likely to occur?

Crime rates in relation to domestic burglary remain relatively steady throughout much of the year, however there is a regular peak from September through to December when the evenings get darker earlier.

Graph showing average number of theft claims by month 2013-2018

60% of all burglaries occurred in the evening or night over the past five years, the evening in particular proved to be the most popular time of day to be burgled with 17 per cent more break-ins occurring in the evening than at night. In fact, while 24 per cent of burglaries happened at night, 23 per cent happened in the afternoon evidencing the importance of ensuring that your home is protected at all times.

Time of Burglary Graph

Commonly stolen items

While it may seem unsurprising, money is the most stolen item in burglaries, including purses and wallets. However, when asked the public believed that computers and jewellery would top a burglar’s list. These items were in fact the second and third most likely items to be taken.

The least likely items to be stolen - though remarkably still sometimes taken - include wheelie bins and garden furniture.

Commonly Stolen Items vs. Survey

The emotional impact of having items stolen

The item the majority of the British public would be most upset about losing is personal documents, such as passports or bank statements. Luckily, while 32 per cent stated losing these would upset them more than any other item, these items aren’t high on a burglar’s list. Personal documents such as passports are taken in only 7 per cent of burglaries.

Perhaps surprisingly the public felt they would be more upset about losing jewellery, watches or their computer than they would be about losing family heirlooms or items of personal significance.

Emotional Response

Britain’s most popular security measures

There are many ways in which people can protect their homes to prevent or deter burglary. The most popular home security method - employed by 42 per cent of the British public - is to double lock their doors.

34 per cent back up their door locks with a burglar alarm, while 27 per cent have installed light sensors or timers to deter potential intruders. 

One quarter of those asked rely on a simple chain on their front door for protection. Interestingly, 21 per cent view their pet dogs as a form of protection for their home.

Popular Security Measures

Is locking the door enough?

The first line of defence for most, 39 per cent revealed they double lock their doors before leaving the property or going to bed. However, the majority of burglars (74 per cent) still gain entry through the door, with a high proportion of these forcing the locks (29 per cent).

Lock Comparison

The effectiveness of burglar alarms

Over a third (34 per cent) of those surveyed had installed an alarm to protect their home. However, many alarm systems are a deterrent rather than a prevention and rely on those hearing the alarm to investigate or take further action.

When asked how they would react if they heard a burglar alarm sound the for over half (58 per cent) the most popular option was to simply look out of the window, alarmingly a further 11 per cent said they would do nothing at all.

Only one in ten people would take action to alert the police if they heard a burglar alarm sounding.

Burglar Alarms

Protecting your home

For those concerned about their home security, there are a number of different things to watch out for and precautions to start considering to make sure your home stays safe:

  1. Replace the locks – Old locks may mean previous homeowners still have functional house keys. Replacing them can add an extra layer of security to the house, and improving older models with modern ones can strengthen security at the same time.
  2. Store keys safely – Placing car and house keys on side tables near your door make it easy for thieves to fish them out through the letterbox, keep these a safe distance from your doors.
  3. Regularly change burglar alarm codes – Just like online passwords, the system is at its most secure if you keep updating the code.
  4. Close your windows – It may seem obvious, but dark evenings provide an easy cover for burglars to sneak in if they spot valuables within an easy distance of your open window.
  5. Review the outside of your house – Making sure windows aren’t broken and all access points are sealed can increase security, as can removing any loose tools or ladders opportunist thieves could use.
  6. Leave a light on – While it might not be as energy efficient as switching lights off, leaving one on can make it look like someone’s home when the house is empty, discouraging burglars. Using a timer that triggers a light when out will allow it to look like someone’s home even if the house is empty, discouraging burglars.
  7. Keep an eye on tape on the door – A recent spate of robberies in Ireland has taken place as burglars position tape over door locks to see if the house is occupied before breaking in.

Insuring your home

In the event of burglary or damage to your property home and contents insurance provides financial security allowing you to recoup some or all of the cost of any items that are stolen in a burglary should they be insured.

Use our price comparison index to see the average cost of home insurance in the UK.

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Claims data is sourced directly from MoneySuperMarket. All survey data is taken from a representative survey of 1,000 UK homeowners commissioned by MoneySuperMarket.


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