Household Burglary in the UK – The Facts and Figures

This page in not intended to cause unnecessary worry, but rather to acquaint you with some of the key facts and figures on burglary that you may not have seen gathered into one place before.

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 though the 90's 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.

Which houses are targeted?

  • In a road, the burglar will choose the property without visable 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 commited 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..".

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 Threating 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.
  • Property is stolen in 40% of incidents, the most popular being cash, jewellery, DVD/Video equipment and stereo equipment. Theft of computer equipment is now twice as common as in 1995.
  • Only half of victims had stolen property insured.
  • In only 9% of cases where something has been stolen is property returned.

Home Office Police Statistics and British Crime Survey reports. Burglary of Domestic Dwellings - Findings from the British Crime Survey
British Crime Survey - Crime in England & Wales: Quarterly Update. British Crime Survey - Crime in England & Wales.