Figures from the 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) show that property crime accounted for 81% of all crime (an estimated 7.7 million offences). Property crime peaked in the mid 1990’s and has since fallen by half.
Vehicle-related crime has fallen significantly since 1995
The CSEW indicates that vehicle-related thefts (including theft of cars and thefts from cars) have been falling for a number of years. A vehicle-owning household is now around four times less likely to become a victim of vehicle-related theft than they were in 1995. Five in 100 households were victims in the year covered by the 2011/12 survey, compared with around 20 in 100 households in 1995, a drop of 71%.
Households now three times less likely to be a victim of burglary
Likewise, there has been a notable decline in the overall burglary rate during this period; estimates from the 2011/12 survey are 60% lower than for the 1995 survey. This reduction is reflected in the percentage of households that have been victims. Around 2 in 100 households were affected in the year covered by the 2011/12 survey, compared with 6 in 100 households in 1995. Households are therefore three times less likely to be a victim of burglary than they were in 1995.
The level of home security is the key factor in determining the likelihood of burglary victimisation. Analysis of the 2011/12 CSEW shows that 6% of households with no or less than basic home security were victims of burglary in the previous 12 months compared with 1% of households with basic or enhanced security. Households with both window locks and double/deadlocks on the outside doors are described as having 'basic' home security; in contrast 'less than basic' includes households with one or more security measure, but without having both window locks and double/deadlocks in place. ‘Enhanced’ security includes households with at least one other security measure (for example, a burglar alarm) in addition to both window locks and double/deadlocks.
Although there is no firm consensus on the drivers of these falls in burglary and vehicle crimes, these data from the CSEW provide some evidence that improved home and car security has been an important driver of falling crime rates internationally. Further research on international trends has also shown that decreases in domestic burglary and vehicle theft rates occurred at different times in the UK, USA and Australia, and in each country these falls coincided with an increased take-up of security features.
Mobile phones the most common item stolen from the person and during robberies
Between the 2003/04 CSEW (the peak in the number of mobile phone incidents) and the 2010/11 survey, around a third of incidents of theft from the person and robbery involved a mobile phone. However, in 2011/12 the proportion of theft from the person and robbery incidents involving a mobile phone increased to 46%.
Looking at theft from the person, mobile phones were the most commonly stolen item in this type of incident, where previously (based on the 2010/11 CSEW) purses, wallets and cash were the items most commonly stolen.