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Chapter 3 - Burglary and Home Security This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 28 November 2013 Download PDF

Summary

This section presents findings from the 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) on the possession of home security devices and the relationship with burglary victimisation. The section also examines security-conscious behaviour related to domestic burglary such as improvements to home security and property marking.

  • The most common home security devices present in households in England and Wales were window locks and double locks or deadlocks.  Eighty-three per cent of households had double locks or deadlocks on at least some of their outside doors and 88% had locks on their windows. In combination these two devices have been considered to provide at least ‘basic’ security and 3-in-4 households had this level of home security.

  • There has been an increased uptake in security measures over time. For example, the proportions of households with double locks or window locks have gone up from 70% and 68% respectively in 1995 to 83% and 88% respectively in 2012/13. Around one-quarter (27%) of respondents who had made security improvements in the previous 12 months said that this had been done as part of general improvements to the property.

  • However, there continues to be some variation in the uptake of such security measures, with generally those households at greatest risk of being a victim of burglary having the lowest levels of uptake, for example student households and households in rented accommodation.

  • The relationship between security and risk of burglary is complex. Households with none of the security measures asked about had around twice the burglary victimisation rate (5%) of those with at least ‘basic security’ (2%).

  • Multivariate analyses confirmed that no single one of the security devices asked about lowered the risk of victimisation. However, the combination of window locks and double locks or deadlocks (‘basic’ security) was associated with significantly lower risk of being a victim of burglary.

Introduction

Despite some fluctuations from year to year, the latest annual estimates indicate that the underlying trend in domestic burglary has remained fairly flat in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) since the 2004/05 survey (Figure 3.1).

Prior to this there were notable declines in burglary. Estimates from the 2012/13 CSEW are around one-third of the level of (63% lower than) the 1995 survey when the overall level of crime peaked (although the peak level of CSEW burglary was in 1993, slightly before the main crime peak). This reduction in volume of incidents is reflected in the percentage of households that had been victims of burglary in the last year, with around 2 in 100 households being victims in the 2012/13 survey compared with around 6 in 100 households in the 1995 survey. Households are thus now around a third as likely to be a victim of burglary as in 1995, see Crime in England and Wales, Year ending March 2013. However, the main driver for the large fall in the estimated number of incidents has been a reduction in the level of repeat incidents (see section on repeat victimisation).

Figure 3.1: Trends in CSEW domestic burglary, 1981 to 2012/13

Figure 3.1: Trends in CSEW domestic burglary, 1981 to 2012/13

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics
  2. The data on this chart refer to different time periods: a) 1995 to 1999 refers to the calendar year (January to December) b) 2001/02 to 2012/13 refers to the financial year (April to March)

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Home security

Since the mid-1990s, the CSEW has asked about household use of home security devices. Respondents were asked if they had certain security measures fitted to their home, which has included, for example:

  • burglar alarms;

  • double or deadlocks on some or all outside doors;

  • security chains or bars on doors;

  • locks that need keys to open them on some or all windows;

  • indoor or outdoor lights on a timer or sensor.

The proportion of households using these devices has increased over the same period that burglary incidents have decreased, perhaps supporting the theory that wider use of more and better home security has in part contributed to this drop (Tilley et al., 2011). Over the period since 1995, when there was a large reduction in the volume of burglaries, the proportion of households with:

  • window locks increased by 20 percentage points (from 68% to 88% of households);

  • double/dead locks increased by 13 percentage points (from 70% to 83% of households);

  • light timers/sensors increased by 16 percentage points (from 39% to 55% of households), and;

  • burglar alarms increased by 11 percentage points (from 20% to 31% of households).

Although it is likely that improvements in the quality and effectiveness of security devices on the market over this period will have had an impact on rates of victimisation, many households would already have had window locks, double locks and sensors prior to 1995 and it is likely that other factors also contributed to the dramatic fall in burglary during the latter half of the 1990s. See Trends in Crime – A Short Story 2011/12 for further context about long-term crime trends. Additionally, the relationship between home security devices and burglary victimisation is complex and it is likely that the take up of multiple security measures is more important than individual items and this is explored below.

As in previous years, according to the 2012/13 CSEW the most common home security devices at the time of interview were window locks or double locks or deadlocks on outside doors (see Figure 3.2 and Nature of Crime Tables).

Figure 3.2: Type of security measures at time of interview, 2012/13 CSEW

Figure 3.2: Type of security measures at time of interview, 2012/13 CSEW

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics

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Eighty-eight per cent of households in England and Wales had locks on their windows and 83% had double locks or deadlocks on at least some of their outside doors.

A combination of certain security measures generally has a greater impact than having individual measures in isolation (Tilley et al., 2011). For example, a front door that is impenetrable is not effective on its own if the windows at the back of the house can easily be broken into. For the purposes of analysis, households have therefore been classified into the following mutually exclusive sub-categories based on the home security devices they had in place:

  • ‘Enhanced security’: households with window locks and double or deadlocks on outside doors (the two most common security measures) as well as at least one additional security measure;

  • ‘Basic security only’: households with window locks and double or deadlocks on outside doors (the two most common security measures) only;

  • ‘Less than basic security’: households without both window locks and double or deadlocks on outside doors but with some other security devices; and

  • ‘No security’: households with none of the security measures asked about.

The majority of households were found to have more than one of the home security measures asked about1. As shown in Figure 3.3, three-quarters (75%) of households had at least ‘basic security’, including 61 per cent of households that had ‘enhanced security’ (see above for definitions of different security levels). Table 3.1, which is presented later in this section, gives an indication of the proportions of households with each individual security measure that also have further security measures in place.

Just under one-quarter (22%) of households had some ‘less than basic security’ and a small minority (2%) of households had none of the security measures asked about.

Figure 3.3: Level of security measures at time of interview, 2012/13 CSEW

Figure 3.3: Level of security measures at time of interview, 2012/13 CSEW

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics
  2. For definitions of levels of security see above.
  3. Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.

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The 2012/13 CSEW showed the likelihood of having at least ‘basic security’ (double locks or deadlocks and window locks) varied by characteristics of the Household Reference Person2 (HRP) and by other key household and area features.  A full breakdown of home security devices and levels of home security by household and area characteristics is presented in Appendix Table 3.01 (448 Kb Excel sheet) .

For example:

  • Around half (49%) of households with a student as the HRP had at least ‘basic security’, compared with 80% of households where the HRP was retired and three-quarters (76%) of households with an HRP who was employed. Likewise, households with younger HRPs (aged between 16 and 34) were less likely to have at least ‘basic security’ than households where the HRP was older, Figure 3.4.

Figure 3.4: Level of security measures by age of Household Reference Person, 2012/13 CSEW

Figure 3.4: Level of security measures by age of Household Reference Person, 2012/13 CSEW

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics
  2. For definitions of levels of security see above

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  • Renters were less likely to have at least ‘basic security’ than owner-occupiers. Around six-in-ten households that rented (62% of those privately renting  and 64% renting from a social landlord) had at least ‘basic security’ compared with around eight-in-ten (83%) owner-occupiers3.

  • 60% of households living in flats or maisonettes had at least ‘basic security’, compared with around 78% of households living in houses.

  • Households in the most deprived 20% of areas (according to the English indices of multiple deprivation) were less likely to have at least ‘basic security’ (71%) compared with those in less deprived areas (77%).

  • Households in rural areas were less likely to have at least ‘basic security’ (73%) than those resident in urban areas (76%), perhaps because rural areas are generally perceived to be lower crime areas.

The 2012/13 CSEW showed that the risk of becoming a victim of burglary also varied by key household and area characteristics (as reported in the Overview section). For many of these characteristics, the groups that were less likely to have security (for example, those living in rented accommodation or in the most deprived areas) were also the groups more likely to be burgled. However, the relationship is complex and many of the various characteristics will be closely associated. 

Notes for Home security

  1. The security measures asked about were burglar alarms; double or deadlocks on some or all outside doors; security chains or bars on doors; locks that need keys to open them on some or all windows; indoor or outdoor lights on a timer or sensor.
  2. For some topics it is necessary to select one person in the household to indicate the characteristics of the household more generally. The Household Reference Person (HRP) is the member of the household in whose name the accommodation is owned or rented, or is otherwise responsible for the accommodation. Where this is a joint responsibility within the household, the HRP is the person with the highest income. If incomes are equal, then the oldest person is the HRP.
  3. This includes both those who owned their property outright and those buying their property via a mortgage.

Burglary victimisation and home security

According to analysis based on the CSEW, the level of home security measures was associated with the risk of experiencing burglary. Logistic regression based on the 2011/12 CSEW (presented in the previous Focus On: Property Crime publication) indicated that whether a household had at least ‘basic security’ (window locks and double or deadlocks) was one of the most important factors in explaining rates of victimisation. Those households with no or ‘less than basic’ home security were shown to be more at risk than those with at least ‘basic’ home security.

The 2012/13 CSEW shows that (see Figure 3.5):

  • Around half of all households that had been victims of burglary in the previous 12 months had no or ‘less than basic’ home security at the time of the incident (50% for victims of burglary with entry and 57% for attempted burglary). This compares with one-quarter (25%) of non-victimised households.

  • Overall, a similar proportion of burglary victims and non-victims had ‘basic security’ only (17% for victims of burglary with entry and 10% for attempted burglary compared to 14% for non-victimised households).

  • Around one-third of burglary victims had ‘enhanced security’ at the time of victimisation (32% for victims of burglary with entry and 33% for attempted burglary), whereas almost twice this proportion (61%) of non-victims had this higher level of security.

Figure 3.5: Victimised and non-victimised households by level of security measures at time of incident/interview, 2012/13 CSEW

Figure 3.5: Victimised and non-victimised households by level of security measures at time of incident/interview, 2012/13 CSEW

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics
  2. For definitions of levels of security see above
  3. For victims, the figures are based on all incidents of burglary in the previous 12 months and are based on what security measures were in place at the time of the burglary. For non-victims, figures are based on all households that were asked about home security measures but were not victims of any burglary. They were asked what security measures were in place at the time of the interview.

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Households that were victims of burglary in the previous 12 months were less likely than non-victims to have each of the individual security measures asked about (although for burglar alarms the difference was not found to be statistically significant). For example, at the time of the burglary 64% of victimised households in England and Wales had double locks or deadlocks on at least some of their outside doors and 71% had locks on their windows. This compares with 83% and 89% respectively for non-victimised households. See Nature of Crime Tables for details of all security measures asked about. Reasons given by respondents for improving their household security, which includes prior victimisation, are detailed in the Security conscious behaviour section below. 

Overall likelihood of victimisation of households with different levels of home security

The 2012/13 CSEW follow-up module on crime prevention and security asked around one-quarter of respondents if they had specific security measures fitted to their home (see above for details of specific measures) and whether they had made specific improvements to security in the previous 12 months. Respondents to the survey are asked about all burglary victimisation in the previous 12 months. However, if a household also indicated that they had installed a security measure at some point in the 12 months prior to interview it is not possible to determine whether or not this was before or after burglary victimisation as this was not asked about in the survey. Thus the only households considered for the analysis in this section were those that had the same level of security throughout the whole year, that is, those households that had not installed the security measures asked about in the last 12 months. Those that had installed at least one of the security measures1 in the previous 12 months (around one-in-ten respondents) were excluded from the analysis in this way.

This is a different method to that used in the burglary section of the overview, which looks at the level of security at victimisation (victims) or at interview (non-victims).

As shown in Figure 3.6 and Appendix Table 3.02 (448 Kb Excel sheet) , it was found that the proportion of households with none of the security measures asked about had a higher rate of burglary victimisation than households with at least basic security (5% of households with no security measures were burgled compared with 2% of households with at least ‘basic security’). Due to the number of households with no security measures being small these differences were not found to be statistically significant.

The proportion of households that were burgled during the previous 12 months was not found to vary across the other levels of home security (2% for each of ‘enhanced’, ‘basic’ and some ‘less than basic’ security).

Figure 3.6: Proportion of households with unchanged levels of security, by frequency burgled, 2012/13 CSEW

Figure 3.6: Proportion of households with unchanged levels of security, by frequency burgled, 2012/13 CSEW

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics
  2. For ‘enhanced security’, ‘basic security’ and ‘no security’ the base is households that had not installed specific the security measures asked about in the last 12 months, i.e. households with the same level of security throughout the previous year. For ‘less than basic security’ the base is households with ‘less than basic security’.

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The proportion of households burgled once during the previous 12 months was similar for the various levels of home security. However, the proportion of households burgled more than once during the previous 12 months was found to be greater for households with none of the security measures asked about than for households with some home security measures (3% of households with no security measures were victims of multiple burglaries compared with less than 0.5% of households with other levels of home security). These differences were found to be statistically significant at the 10% level but not at the 5% level. 

Notes for Overall likelihood of victimisation of households with different levels of home security

  1. The security measures asked about were burglar alarms; double or deadlocks on some or all outside doors; security chains or bars on doors; locks that need keys to open them on some or all windows; indoor or outdoor lights on a timer or sensor.

Overall likelihood of victimisation of households by individual home security measures

As well as looking at the effects of the overall level of home security, the relationship between the presence of individual home security measures and the likelihood of burglary victimisation was considered. Analysis showed that households without indoor lights on a timer or sensor were more likely to have been burgled (2% of these households) than households with this measure installed (1%), Appendix Table 3.02 (448 Kb Excel sheet) . Households without each of the other security measures asked about in the survey (burglar alarm, double locks/deadlocks, window locks, door chains/bars, and outdoor lights on timer) were not found to have a higher likelihood of burglary victimisation at the 5% significance level.

However, households will not generally have just one of these measures in isolation, as shown in Table 3.1. For example, the majority of those that had indoor timer lights present for 12 months or more also had other security measures at the time of interview such as window locks (95%), deadlocks (91%) or outdoor lights on a timer or sensor (68%).

Table 3.1 Proportion of households with individual security measures in place for 12 months or more with security measures present, 2012/13 CSEW

England and Wales

Households, percentages
  Additional measures present:
  window locks double locks/ deadlocks outdoor lights on timer door chains/ bars burglar alarm indoor lights on timer unweighted base2
Measure present for 12 months or more:              
window locks 100 86 49 34 33 26 7,612
double locks/deadlocks 92 100 50 34 33 27 6,992
outdoor lights on timer 92 87 100 35 41 34 3,815
door chains/bars 89 85 49 100 31 25 2,812
burglar alarm 95 90 62 33 100 38 2,540
indoor lights on timer 95 91 68 35 48 100 2,057

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics
  2. Unweighted base is all households with measure present for 12 months or more

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This suggests that a combination of measures together is more effective than measures used in isolation, which corresponds to the findings on enhanced security.  

Logistic regression analysis of likelihood of burglary victimisation by security measures

Logistic regression can be used to estimate how much the likelihood of victimisation is increased or reduced according to different characteristics, taking into account the fact that some of these variables may be interrelated. For this analysis, the interest was in the effect on victimisation given the presence of different home security measures, alongside other potential explanatory variables.

Logistic regression is able to isolate each variable and control for the impact of other variable to show which has the biggest impact on likelihood of victimisation. Although it can be used to explore associations between variables, it does not necessarily imply causation and results should be treated as indicative rather than conclusive. Again, only households which had not installed security measures within the previous 12 months were considered in the analysis.

The logistic regression carried out showed that the measures that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of burglary in 2012/13 were the age of the Household Reference Person (HRP) and whether the HRP was employed. Individually, the security measures asked about were not found to be significant.

The model shows that, assuming all other characteristics are constant:

  • households with an HRP aged between 16 and 54 were between three and four times the odds of being victims of burglary compared with households where the HRP was aged 55 and over.

  • households with an HRP who was not in employment (unemployed or economically inactive) had around three-times the odds of being a victim of burglary compared with households containing an HRP who was employed.

The household having been resident at the address for less than one year, and whether the household resides in an urban location were also found to be important in explaining an increased likelihood of burglary.

However, logistic regression based on the 2011/12 CSEW (presented in the previous Focus On: Property Crime publication) indicated that whether the household had at least basic security was one of the most important factors in explaining rates of victimisation. In order to look at the impact of individual security measures this variable was not included in the 2012/13 model but it is likely that overall level of home security explains more of the variation in the likelihood of being burgled than the type of individual security measures alone. This is further evidence that, as suggested earlier in this section, having home security measures reduced the risk of burglary victimisation but this cannot be attributed to a single type of security measure as they were more effective in combination.

For more a more detailed breakdown of these figures and a list of the variables included in the model see Appendix Table 3.03 (448 Kb Excel sheet) . For more information on the methodology and interpretation of logistic regression presented here, see Section 8.4 of the User Guide.  

Security conscious behaviour

Improvements to home security

The survey also asked the respondents selected for the crime prevention and security module about whether or not they had made security improvements over the last 12 months and their reasons why or why not. Many of the households that had made security improvements were excluded from the analysis in the previous section on likelihood of burglary victimisation.

The most common home security improvements were replacing doors or windows with more secure ones (6%), installing or improving fencing to protect rear or side garden (6%) or fitting outdoor timer or sensor lights (5%), Figure 3.7 and Appendix Table 3.04 (448 Kb Excel sheet) .

Figure 3.7: Proportion of households that had installed security measures in the previous 12 months, 2012/13 CSEW

Figure 3.7: Proportion of households that had installed security measures in the previous 12 months, 2012/13 CSEW

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics

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Around one-quarter (27%) of respondents who had made security improvements said that this had been done as part of general improvements to the property (see Nature of Crime Tables). Although this was by far the most common reason given, this represents a large decrease compared with the period between 2003/04 and 2010/11, when the proportion remained at around one-half.

Around one-in-ten respondents said that they had made the improvements due to either feeling more vulnerable due to changes in personal circumstances (10%),a general increase in burglaries in the local area (10%), or no particular reason (11%) which represent increases since the previous year (7%, 6% and 4% respectively in 2011/12). However, when compared with 2011/12, a smaller proportion of respondents in 2012/13 said that they had made improvements due to burglary/theft from own home (9% in 2012/13 compared with 12% in 2011/12). The proportions of respondents giving various reasons for improving home security are displayed in the Nature of Crime Tables.

By far the most common reason given by those respondents that had not made any improvements to their home security in the previous year was that their home was already as secure as it could be (44%), and one-in-five respondents had not made security improvements because they did not think their home was at risk (20%) or their home was rented (19%), Figure 3.8 and Appendix Table 3.05 (448 Kb Excel sheet) .

Figure 3.8: Reasons for not making improvements to home security measures in previous 12 months, 2012/13 CSEW

Figure 3.8: Reasons for not making improvements to home security measures in previous 12 months, 2012/13 CSEW

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics
  2. Percentages add up to more than 100% as more than one response was possible.

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Property marking

There are various ways to mark personal property to protect it against burglary and theft and to help police to return it if it is stolen and subsequently recovered. Respondents were asked about whether they ever used any of a range of techniques to mark or record details of their household and personal property.

Almost one-third (31%) of respondents had ever used any of the techniques asked about to mark or record details of their property, Table 3.2.

Table 3.2: Whether respondents had ever marked or recorded details of their household and personal property[2], 2012/13 CSEW

England and Wales

Households, percentages
  2012/13
None of these techniques 69
   
At least one of these techniques 31
Took photographs of items 15
Marked items using an invisible marker 13
Recorded serial numbers and kept details stored 13
Stored serial numbers with a commercial asset register 5
Marked items using a visible marker 4
   
Unweighted base3 8,785
 

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics
  2. More than one response was possible.
  3. Unweighted base is all households

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The most common methods were taking photographs of items (15%), marking items using an invisible marker (13%) or recording details of serial numbers (13%). 

Background notes

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    The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

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