Skip to content

Chapter 1 - Overview of Property Crime This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 28 November 2013 Download PDF

Summary

This overview chapter covers police recorded property crime, property crime recorded by the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and property crimes covered in the Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS). It discusses some of the data contained within the Nature of Crime tables published alongside this release. It also presents the likelihood of being a victim of separate property crimes by demographic breakdowns.

  • Property crime covers a range of criminal activities where the aim is to acquire property by illegal means or to cause damage to property. It includes offences of burglary, vehicle-related thefts, robbery and other personal thefts, fraud and vandalism.

  • Property crime is an important driver of overall crime, accounting for 72% of all police recorded crime and 80% of all incidents measured by the CSEW. The 2012 CVS shows that the majority of crimes against selected business sectors were property related (91%).

  • The CSEW shows substantial falls in property crime, with levels having fallen by half since they peaked in the mid-1990’s. These falls were driven by large reductions in high volume crimes such as vandalism, vehicle-related theft and burglary.

  • While the high volume categories continue to show falls, some other CSEW crimes such as other household theft have shown an underlying upward trend over the past 5 years. However, the latest estimate is 6% lower than the 2011/12 CSEW.

  • More recent trends in theft from the person (which includes pick pocketing and snatch theft) recorded by the police show an upward trend between 2009/10 and 2012/13. This is thought to be in part driven by theft of smart phones and other valuable mobile technology.

  • Theft from the person and bicycle theft make up a higher proportion of property crime in the 2012/13 survey (8% and 7% respectively) than in 1995 (both 4%). This change can be attributed to the fall in vehicle related theft between these two dates and that bike theft and theft from the person have not seen the same level of reduction as other high volume crimes.

  • In the 2012/13 CSEW the most commonly stolen item in incidents of other theft of personal property, other household theft and burglary were purses/wallets. Cash/foreign currency was the most commonly stolen item in incidents of theft from the person and robbery. Mobile phones were also items commonly stolen in incidents of theft from the person and robbery.

  • Characteristics that contributed to explaining the likelihood of being a victim of crime varied by the type of property crime. For example, for vehicle related thefts and theft from the person younger people were more likely to have been victims. Households in urban areas were more likely to be victims of burglary than those in rural areas.

 

 

Introduction

Property crime is defined as incidents where individuals, households or corporate bodies are deprived of their property by illegal means or where their property is damaged. It includes offences of burglary, offences against vehicles (which include theft of vehicles or property from vehicles), theft offences, fraud, forgery and criminal damage. For the purposes of this report, robbery1 is also included as a property crime though it recorded in its own standalone category in the headline statistics published quarterly.

Since the last ‘Focus on: Property Crime’ publication there has been a re-classification of some elements of the police recorded crime data series. These changes do not affect the coverage of offences in the police recorded crime series, and are restricted to movement of offences across categories. As part of the re-classification work, theft from the person, bicycle theft and shoplifting are no longer included in the residual theft classification of ‘Other theft offences’ and are now presented separately. Thus breakdowns of offences shown within this bulletin or in the associated tables will differ from those published previously. Further detail of the changes can be found in the: Methodological note: Presentational changes to National Statistics on police recorded crime in England and Wales.

This ‘Focus on: Property crime’ release presents crime statistics from three different sources: the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), police recorded crime and the 2012 Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS).

Police recorded crime includes notifiable offences that have been reported to and recorded by the police. Police recorded crime figures are supplied by the 43 territorial police forces of England and Wales, plus the British Transport Police, via the Home Office to ONS.  The coverage of police recorded crime statistics is defined by the Notifiable Offence List2, which includes a broad range of offences, from murder to minor criminal damage, theft and public order offences.

The CSEW covers crimes against the population of England and Wales resident in households, and crimes against those households, but does not include crimes against the commercial or business sector or the population who are not resident in households, such as tourists or visitors.The CSEW covers a narrower range of offences than those included in the police recorded crime collection, but reported volumes are higher as the survey is able to capture all offences experienced by those interviewed, not just those that have been reported to and recorded by the police. In 2009 the CSEW was extended to cover children aged 10 to 15, and, where appropriate, data are included for this age group.

The 2012 CVS is a nationally representative sample of business premises in four sectors (manufacturing, wholesale and retail, transportation and storage and accommodation and food). In this overview results from the 2012 CVS are discussed, the 2013 CVS is currently in the field and results are due to be published early 2014.

Property crime accounted for 72% (or around 2,674,000 offences) of all police recorded crime in 2012/13 and 80% (an estimated 6,933,000 incidents) of all crime measured by the 2012/13 CSEW. Of the crimes measured by the 2012 CVS, 91% (an estimated 8,365,000 offences) were property related (see Crime against businesses: headline findings from the 2012 Commercial Victimisation Survey for more information). The consistently high proportion of offences accounted for by property crime means that these types of crimes, in particular the high volume ones such as vehicle-related theft, vandalism and burglary, are important in driving overall crime trends.

The largest component of property crime in the 2012/13 CSEW was vandalism (25%). Other components that make up CSEW property crime include; ‘other’ household theft (that is, theft outside a dwelling and theft in a dwelling by someone entitled to be there; 19%), vehicle-related theft (15%) and ‘other’ theft of personal property (theft of unattended property; 14%). For a full breakdown of CSEW property crime, see Figure 1.1.

The largest component of property crime in 1995 was vehicle-related theft, which made up 28% of CSEW property crime. Other components include vandalism (22%), other household theft (15%) and other theft of personal property (14%). For a full breakdown see Figure 1.1. Comparing the composition of CSEW property crime in 1995 to the 2012/13 survey the most noticeable difference is in vehicle related theft, which made up 28% of property crime in 1995 and 15% of property crime in the 2012/13 survey. Vandalism makes up a similar proportion in 1995 (22%) to the 2012/13 survey (25%). Theft from the person and bicycle theft make up a higher proportion of property crime in the 2012/13 survey (8% and 7% respectively) than in 1995 (both 4%). This change can be attributed to the fall in high volume crimes such as; vehicle related theft and vandalism between these two dates.

Figure 1.1: Composition of CSEW property crime, 1995 and 2012/13

Figure 1.1: Composition of CSEW property crime, 1995 and 2012/13

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics
  2. The population, offence coverage and volume of offences differs between police recorded crime and the CSEW and so Figures 1.1 and 1.2 are not directly comparable.

Download chart

Criminal damage and the category ‘all other theft offences’ were the largest components of police recorded property crime (both 19%) in 2012/13. Burglary and offences against vehicles together made up approximately a third of police recorded property crime (17% and 15% respectively). Theft from the person (4%), bike theft (4%) and robbery (2%) collectively accounted for a small proportion of all police recorded property crime. For a full breakdown of police recorded property crime, see Figure 1.2.

The largest component of police recorded property crime in 2002/03 was vehicle related theft (23%), other large components include criminal damage (22%), burglary (19%) and ‘all other theft offences’ (16%). For a full breakdown see figure 1.2. Comparing the composition of police recorded property crime in 2002/03 to 2012/13 the most noticeable difference is in vehicle related theft, which made up 23% of property crime in 2002/03 and 15% of property crime in 2012/13. Shoplifting made up a much larger proportion of property crime in 2012/13 (11%) than in 2002/03 (6%).

Figure 1.2: Composition of police recorded property crime, 2002/03 and 2012/13

Figure 1.2: Composition of police recorded property crime, 2002/03 and 2012/13

Notes:

  1. Source: Police recorded crime, Home Office
  2. The population, offence coverage and volume of offences differs between police recorded crime and the CSEW and so Figures 1.1 and 1.2 are not directly comparable.

Download chart

  

Notes for Introduction

  1. Robbery is an offence in which violence or the threat of violence is used during a theft (or attempted theft) and is reported as a separate offence in police recorded crime figures and as a violent crime in CSEW incidents. As is contains elements of theft it is included within this ‘Focus on: Property crime’ publication.
  2. The Notifiable Offence List includes all indictable and triable-either-way offences (offences which could be tried at a crown court) and a few additional closely related summary offences (which would be dealt with by a magistrate). For information on the classifications used for notifiable crimes recorded by the police, see Appendix 1 of the User Guide

Levels of victimisation

The CSEW provides estimates of victimisation rates for the crimes that it covers, and these vary by property crime type (Figure 1.8). Among households interviewed in the 2012/13 CSEW, 5.0% had experienced vandalism, 4.6% of vehicle-owning households had experienced vehicle-related theft, 3.3% of bicycle owning households had a bicycle stolen and 2.1% of households had been a victim of burglary. Among adults aged 16 and over, 1.1% had been a victim of theft from the person in the previous 12 months and 0.4% had been a victim of robbery. Some 6.8% of children aged 10-151 had been a victim of personal theft2 and 1.0% had been a victim of vandalism to personal property.

Comparing victimisation rates in 1995 (when crime was at the peak) to the 2012/13 CSEW, the most noticeable difference is in vehicle related theft which has decreased from 19.7% of vehicle-owning households experiencing a vehicle related theft in 1995 to 4.6% in the 2012/13 CSEW (figure 1.8). Vandalism has also shown a large decrease from 10.1% of households experiencing vandalism in 1995 to 5.0% in the 2012/13 CSEW, while burglary victimisation fell from 6.4% in 1995 to 2.1% in the 2012/13 CSEW. Personal crimes such as theft from the person have shown small decreases from 1.6% in 1995 to 1.1% in the 2012/13 survey. For a full breakdown of victimisation rates by property crime type see figure 1.8.

Figure 1.8: CSEW property crime victimisation of households, adults aged 16 and over and children aged 10 to 15, 1995 and 2012/13

Figure 1.8: CSEW property crime victimisation of households, adults aged 16 and over and children aged 10 to 15, 1995 and 2012/13

Notes:

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

Download chart

Notes for Levels of victimisation

  1. For more information on crimes experienced by children aged 10-15 see Crimes experienced by children aged 10-15 in Crime in England and Wales 2012/13 and the User Guide.
  2. Personal theft includes theft from the person, stealth theft, snatch theft and other theft of personal property but also theft from inside and outside a dwelling and theft of bicycles where the property stolen belonged solely to the child respondent.

Characteristics associated with being a victim of property crime

Burglary

Among households interviewed in the 2012/13 CSEW, 2.1% had experienced one or more burglaries in the previous 12 months. This proportion varied by household characteristics (See Appendix table 1.01 (448 Kb Excel sheet) ).

  • Households in urban areas (2.4%) were twice as likely to be a victim of burglary than households in rural areas (1.1%).

  • Private (2.8%) and social renters (3.1%) were more likely to be victims of burglary than households who owned their property (1.6%). This compares with substantially higher victimisation rates in 1995, when 7.4% and 9.0% of private and social renters and 5.3% of home owners were victims.

  • Houses and flats/maisonettes had a similar likelihood of being burgled (2.0% and 2.5% respectively). However detached houses were less likely to be burgled (1.4%) than terraced houses (2.7%) or semi-detached houses (1.9%).

A full breakdown of the likelihood of being a victim of burglary by household characteristics is shown in Appendix table 1.01 (448 Kb Excel sheet) . According to the 2012/13 CSEW one of the factors associated with the risk of being a victim of burglary was the level of home security. For more information on the risk of victimisation and home security see the burglary and home security section of this release. Many of the characteristics will be closely associated, so caution is needed in the interpretation of the effect of these different characteristics when viewed in isolation.

Vehicle related theft

According to the 2012/13 CSEW 4.6% of vehicle owning households has been a victim of vehicle related theft in the previous 12 months. This proportion varied by household characteristics ( See Appendix table 1.02 (448 Kb Excel sheet) ).

  • Households who owned three or more cars were most likely to have been a victim of vehicle related theft (6.7%) compared with households owning two cars (5.5%) or a single car (3.7%).

  • Households where the household reference person (HRP) was aged between 16 and 24 were most likely to be a victim of vehicle-related theft (7.3%). This victimisation decreased by age, for example 5.5% where the HRP was aged 45-54 and 1.2% where the HRP was aged 75+.


A full breakdown of the likelihood of being a victim of vehicle related theft by household characteristics is shown in Appendix table 1.02 (448 Kb Excel sheet) .  Many of the characteristics will be closely associated, so caution is needed in the interpretation of the effect of these different characteristics when viewed in isolation.

Vandalism

The 2012/13 CSEW estimated that 5.0% of households experienced some form of vandalism in the previous 12 months (4.7% of vehicle owning households had experienced vehicle vandalism and 1.5% of all households experienced vandalism to the home or other property). The proportion of households that were a victim of vandalism in the last 12 months varied by household characteristics (see Appendix table 1.04 (448 Kb Excel sheet) ).

  • Households with three of more cars (7.3%) were more likely to have been a victim of vandalism than households with two (5.9%), one (5.7%) or no cars (2.2%). That households with at least one car are more likely to be vandalised is perhaps not surprising given, that around two-thirds of vandalism incidents were vehicle-related.

  • Households living in terraced houses were more likely to have been victims of vandalism (6.4%) compared to those living in semi-detached (4.5%) or detached houses (4.0%).

A full breakdown of the likelihood of being a victim of burglary by household characteristics is shown in Appendix table 1.04 (448 Kb Excel sheet) .  Many of the characteristics will be closely associated, so caution is needed in the interpretation of the effect of these different characteristics when viewed in isolation.

Theft from the Person

In 2012/13 the CSEW estimated that 1.1% of adults had been a victim of theft from the person in the previous 12 months. This victimisation rate varies by personal characteristics (see Appendix table 1.03 (448 Kb Excel sheet) ).

  • Women (1.3%) were slightly more likely to be a victim of theft from the person than men (0.9%).

  • Adults aged 16-24 were most likely to be a victim of theft from the person (2.6%).

  • Students are most likely to be a victim of theft from the person (3.4%) compared with respondents in employment (1.2%) and unemployed (1.2%).

A full breakdown of the likelihood of being a victim of burglary by household characteristics is shown in Appendix table 1.03 (448 Kb Excel sheet) .  Many of the characteristics will be closely associated, so caution is needed in the interpretation of the effect of these different characteristics when viewed in isolation.

 

Items stolen

The motive for most types of property crime is to steal. It is possible to analyse which items are commonly stolen in different types of property crime using data from the CSEW. Table 1.1 shows the items most commonly stolen in different types of property crime where a theft was involved.

According to the 2012/13 survey, in 68% of burglaries with entry, something was stolen. Purses/wallets/money were the items most commonly stolen in incidents of burglary (44%) and theft in a dwelling (45%). Computers/computer equipment were the second most commonly stolen items in incidents of burglary (35%) and jewellery was the second most commonly stolen item in incidents of theft in a dwelling (22%).

The 2012/13 survey found that cash/foreign currency were the most commonly stolen items in incidents of robbery (47%) and theft from the person (53%); for example pick pocketing. Mobile phones were stolen in 44% of incidents of robbery and 40% of incidents of theft from the person (see Nature of Crime tables).

Since the 2007/08 CSEW the two most commonly stolen items in incidents of robbery has been mobile phones and cash/foreign currency (data not shown). Since 2003/04 the two most commonly stolen items in incidents of theft from the person has been purses/wallets and cash/foreign currency, with the exception of 2011/12 where the most commonly stolen item was mobile phones (Nature of Crime tables). Since the 2003/04 CSEW purses/wallets have been the most commonly stolen item in incidents of burglary apart from in the 2011/12 CSEW where computers were the most commonly stolen item (Nature of Crime tables).

Results from the 2012/13 CSEW showed that in incidents of theft from a vehicle, the items most commonly stolen were exterior fittings (for example, hub caps, wheel trims, number plates; stolen in 36% of theft from vehicle incidents). Valuables, including jewellery, handbags, wallets and money were the next most common item stolen (19%) followed by electrical equipment, including satellite navigation systems and computer equipment (16%). A lower proportion of car radios, CDs, tapes and DVDs were stolen in the 2012/13 survey compared with the 2003/04 survey1.  According to the 2003/04 CSEW, car radios were stolen in 22% of incidents of theft from vehicles and CDs, tapes and DVD’s were stolen in 12% of incidents, this being considerably higher than in the 2012/13 survey where both car radios and CDs, tapes and DVDs were stolen in 5% of incidents. This reflects the changing value of such goods and of the emergence of new consumer electronics, mobile telephony and computing which have become more attractive to criminals.

Table 1.1: Item most commonly stolen in incidents of property crime, 2012/13 CSEW

England and Wales

Adults aged 16 and over/households/children aged 10 to 15
Property crime type Item most commonly stolen Proportion of incidents where item was stolen (%)
Burglary with entry (where item was stolen) Purse/wallet/money 44
Burglary to non-connected building (where item was stolen) Tools/work materials 37
Theft in a dwelling Purse/wallet/money 45
Theft outside a dwelling Garden furniture 44
All other household theft Garden furniture 39
Theft from a vehicle Exterior fittings 36
Robbery Cash/foreign currency 47
Theft from the person Cash/foreign currency 53
Other theft of personal property Purse/wallet 28
Thefts experienced by children (where item was stolen) Mobile phone 20
     

Table notes:

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

Download table

The 2012/13 survey showed that mobile phones were the most commonly stolen items in incidents of theft experienced by children aged 10-15 (stolen in 20% of incidents). Clothing was the second most commonly stolen item, stolen in 17% of incidents and cash/foreign currency was stolen in 15% of incidents (Nature of Crime tables).

Notes for Items stolen

  1. 2003/04 was the first year that a detailed breakdown of items stolen in theft from vehicle incidents was available. In 1995, when theft from vehicle incidents were near their peak, the most common items stolen were external fittings (32%; similar to 2003/04 and 2012/13) followed by stereo equipment, including car radios, tapes and CDs (30%)

Metal theft

Metal theft refers to thefts of items for the value of their constituent metals, rather than the acquisition of the item itself. Metal theft is not a crime defined by law, but is recorded by police under a broader offence classification of ‘other theft’ which is a sub-category of ‘all other theft offences’. Anecdotal evidence1 suggests that metal theft has been an important driver of trends in the police recorded crime category ‘Other theft’ (which covers offences involving theft of unattended property, including those from commercial premises) over recent years. The number of ’other theft’ offences recorded by the police showed notable increases between 2009/10 and 2011/12. However, more recently the number of these offences has been falling, and the number recorded in 2012/13 was 15% lower than 2011/12 (see Crime in England and Wales, Year ending March 2013)

A separate data collection on theft offences involving metal theft recorded by the police during 2012/13 has been conducted by the Home Office and data have been released as experimental statistics (See Metal theft offences, England and Wales 2012 to 2013. The key findings from these statistics are summarised below.

There were 61,349 offences involving metal theft recorded by police in England and Wales between April 2012 and March 2013 (accounting to 3% of all police recorded theft), of which:

  • 28,843 (47%) were infrastructure-related offences

  • 25,869 (42%) were non-infrastructure-related offences

  • 6,637 (11%) were not classified2

Infrastructure-related metal thefts are defined as ‘The removal of metal that has a direct impact on the functioning of infrastructure and/or fabric of a building or machinery. This includes all metals that are connected to live services such as: water, heating, electricity, telephone cabling, other service cabling and railway cabling (for example; copper cabling in railway signals), roofing lead (for example; on churches), a catalytic converter removed from a vehicle and manhole covers’.

Non-infrastructure-related metal thefts are defined as ‘The removal of metal that has no direct impact on the functioning of infrastructure and/or fabric of a building or machinery. This includes metal that is not connected to services, redundant metal, war memorial plaques, and metal gates/fencing’. 

Notes for Metal theft

  1. For example, Network rail have reported decreases in the number of incidents of cable theft affecting rail passengers between 2011/12 and 2012/13. Other media examples: Doncaster Free Press and the The Westmoorland Gazette.
  2. Some police forces were unable to distinguish between infrastructure-related offences and non-infrastructure-related offences. Hence there are 6,637 metal theft offences that were not classified into one of the two sub-categories

When property crimes happen

Victims of CSEW property crime are asked about the circumstances of the incident, including when it happened. The 2012/13 CSEW showed that property crimes happened mostly in the evening or night (ranging from 59% to 78% of incidents depending on the property crime type) (table 1.2). Exceptions to this general pattern were theft from the person and other theft of personal property which were more likely to happen in the daytime (62% and 57% of incidents respectively). As might be expected, the majority of thefts experienced by children aged 10 to 15 took place during daylight hours (88%). See Nature of crime tables for more information.

Looking at days of the week on which offences take place, the timing of victimisation is similar across burglary, vehicle related theft, bicycle theft, all other household theft and other theft of personal property where the likelihood of being a victim was slightly higher during a week day compared with a weekend day. Across these crime types between 66% and 72% of incidents occurred during the week (this is equivalent to between 15% and 16% per week day1) and between 28% and 34% of these incidents occurred during the weekend (this is equivalent to between 11% and 14% per weekend day2).

Offences of theft from the person, vandalism and robbery showed a different pattern with the likelihood of being a victim being slightly higher during a weekend day compared with a week day.

Across these crime types between 59% and 62% of incidents occurred during the week (this is equivalent to between 13% and 14% per week day9) and between 38% and 41% of incidents occurred during the weekend (this is equivalent to between 15% and 17% per weekend day10).

Table 1.2: Timing of incident for different types of property crime, 2012/13

England and Wales

Adults aged 16 and over/households/children aged 10 to 15
Timing Burglary Vehicle Theft Other household theft Other theft of personal property Bicycle Theft Theft from the person Vandalism Robbery Thefts against Childen aged 10-15
During the week 72 67 71 66 71 59 59 62 85
At the weekend2 28 33 29 34 29 41 41 38 15
Unweighted Base 664 1,121 1,303 594 488 320 1,629 87 189
Morning/Afternoon3 39 22 40 57 41 62 26 37 :
Evening/Night4 61 78 60 43 59 38 74 63 :
Unweighted base 659 1,123 1,263 587 487 326 1,631 91 :

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics
  2. Weekend is from Friday 6pm to Monday 6am.
  3. Morning is from 6am to noon; afternoon is from noon to 6pm.
  4. Evening is from 6pm to midnight; night is midnight to 6am.

Download table

In the 2012/13 CSEW, 85% of incidents of theft against children aged 10-15 occurred during the week (equivalent to 19% per week day8) and 15% of incidents occurred during the weekend (equivalent to 6% per day9). This means that the likelihood of a child aged 10-15 being a victim of theft is much higher during the week and reflects the fact that a large proportion of incidents occurred in and around school (60%).

Analysis of police recorded crime data also shows that seasonal patterns exist across most types of property crime, whereby levels of crime showed consistent peaks or troughs during particular months of the year. For example, 'Other theft' offences (which involve theft of unattended property) showed a higher than average number of crimes recorded in the summer months, while there were lower than average number in the winter months. By contrast, for robbery of business property there were a higher than average number of offences in the winter months and a lower than average number of offences in the summer. It should be noted that seasonal patterns should not affect the interpretation of data presented in this statistical bulletin. The use of full year on year comparisons of police recorded crime data presented means that the effects of any seasonal patterns are diluted since the two years being compared should both contain any recurrent seasonal peaks or troughs. For further details see 'Seasonality in police recorded  property crime'  

Notes for When property crimes happen

  1. Daily data is calculated from the weekly total with the week classified at 6am Monday until 6pm Friday.
  2. Daily data is calculated from the weekend total with the weekend classified as 6pm Friday until 6am Monday.

Location of property crimes

In the 2012/13 CSEW incidents of vehicle theft, bicycle theft and vehicle vandalism most often occurred at the victim’s home; (72%, 69% and 72% respectively) (Table 1.3). Looking specifically at vehicle theft, 37% of incidents occurred in the street at home. Bicycle theft was most likely to occur in a semi-private location1 near the victim’s home (53% of bike theft incidents), while vehicle vandalism was most likely to occur in the street at the victim’s home (52% of incidents) Nature of Crime tables.

Table 1.3: Location of where incidents of property crime occurred, 2012/13 CSEW

England and Wales

Adults aged 16 and over/households
Location of incident All vehicle theft Bicycle theft Vehicle vandalism
Home 72 69 72
Work 5 6 6
Other 23                             24 22
Unweighted base 1,278 556 1,325

Table notes:

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

Download table

 

Notes for Location of property crimes

  1. 'Semi-private' includes outside areas on or near the premises and garages or car parks around but not connected to the home.

Reporting to the police

Figure 1.9 shows reporting rates by property crime type from the 2012/13 CSEW. Incidents of theft of a vehicle were most likely to be reported to the police (91% of incidents), which has been the case since the survey began in 1981, followed by burglary with loss (85% of incidents). The high reporting rates of theft of a vehicle and burglary are likely to reflect the need for a crime reference number in order to claim on an insurance policy. It could also reflect the higher severity of these crimes (figure 1.9). Other theft of personal property, vandalism and other household theft were least likely to be reported, as in previous rounds of the survey.

Figure 1.9: Proportion of CSEW property crime incidents reported to the police, 2012/13

Figure 1.9: Proportion of CSEW property crime incidents reported to the police, 2012/13

Notes:

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

Download chart

 

Profile of offenders involved in property crime

According to the 2012/13 CSEW in 46% of incidents of burglary the victim was able to say something about the offender. In 57% of these incidents the offender was known to the victim ( equivalent to 26% of all burglary incidents) (Nature of Crime tables). In 83% of incidents of burglary where the victim was able to say something about the offender, the offender was male, in 9% of incidents the offender was female and in 8% of incidents there were offenders of both sexes. In 55% of incidents of burglary someone was at home, and in 45% of incidents no one was at home at the time it happened. Of those incidents where someone was at home, aware and saw the offender, force or violence was either threatened or used in just over half (54%) of cases (equivalent to 15% of all burglary incidents) (Nature of Crime tables).

According to the 2012/13 CSEW, in 25% of vandalism incidents the victim was able to say something about the offender. In 35% of these incidents the offender was aged under 16, and in 41% of incidents the offender was aged 16-24 (Nature of Crime tables).

In 2012/13 in 48% of thefts against children aged 10-15 the victim was able to say something about the offender (for example; the age, sex or number of offenders). In 50% of incidents the offender was a pupil at the victim’s school and in 33% of incidents the offender was a friend (including boy/girlfriend) of the victim (Nature of Crime tables). 

Impact on victims

Property crime does not generally result in physical injury to the victim1. One possible exception to this being robbery. However, the emotional impact can still be considerable for victims. Figure 1.10 shows that victims of burglary were the most likely to say that they had been very emotionally affected by the crime (27% of victims), which could reflect the invasion of personal space. In contrast, 7% of victims of theft outside a dwelling or other household theft said that they had been very emotionally affected by the incident. Theft outside a dwelling and other household theft were mainly theft of garden furniture and items stolen from outside the home and therefore less likely to be perceived as involving an invasion of privacy.

Figure 1.10: Emotional response to property crime victimisation, 2012/13

Figure 1.10: Emotional response to property crime victimisation, 2012/13

Notes:

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

Download chart

The most common types of reaction to property crimes were anger and annoyance. According to the 2012/13 CSEW, anger was the most common reaction to incidents of burglary (51%), robbery (49%), and annoyance was the most common reaction to incidents of; other theft of personal property (60%), vandalism (59%),vehicle theft (58%), theft from the person (55%),  bike theft (54%) and other household theft (41%) (Nature of Crime tables).

Respondents who were victims of property crime were asked to rate the seriousness of the crime, with a score of 1 being the least serious and 20 being the most. As in previous years, and shown in Figure 1.11, theft of a vehicle, robbery and burglary were considered to be the most serious property crimes. Theft of a vehicle has a mean score of 8.6, robbery a mean score of 8.5 and burglary a mean score of 8.3. Other household theft was considered to be the least serious property crime with a mean score of 4.3.

Figure 1.11: Mean perceived seriousness scores by property crime type, 2012/13

Figure 1.11: Mean perceived seriousness scores by property crime type, 2012/13

Notes:

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

Download chart

 

Notes for Impact on victims

  1. Crimes are recorded using a hierarchy system where violent offences take priority over non-violent offences. For example; if the respondent was seriously wounded during the course of a burglary this would be recorded as a violent crime, however if the respondent was assaulted but not seriously wounded this would be recorded as a burglary. For more information please see User Guide

Property crime against children aged 10-15

There were an estimated 314,000 incidents of theft and 42,000 incidents of damage of personal property experienced by children aged 10 to 15, according to the 2012/13 CSEW. Around 70% of these thefts were classified as other theft of personal property (221,000 incidents) which includes thefts of property left unattended.

Analysis of likelihood of being a victim of property crime using logistic regression

Logistic regression can be used to estimate how much the likelihood of victimisation is increased or reduced according to different characteristics or behaviours, taking in to account the fact that some variables may be interrelated (for example, marital status and age). Although logistic regression can be used to explore associations between variables, it does not necessarily imply causation and results should be treated as indicative rather than conclusive.

Analysis presented in this section has been carried out on the 2011/12 CSEW and has not been repeated for the 2012/13 survey. In the 2011/12 CSEW the characteristics that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of victimisation varied by property crime type. For example, the characteristic that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of being a victim of burglary was the level of home security in the household (the absence or presence of window locks and deadlocks on doors), whereas the characteristic that contributed most to being a victim of vandalism was the number of cars owned by the household (this stands to reason as the more cars a household owns, the more chance there is of the car being vandalised). Age was the characteristic that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of vehicle-related theft and theft from the person (with the likelihood of being a victim higher among younger age groups).

For a detailed description of the characteristics most associated with the likelihood of victimisation split by property crime type please see Focus on Property Crime 2011/12.

Property crime against businesses

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) is restricted to crimes experienced by the population resident in households in England and Wales and doesn’t cover crime against commercial victims. While police recorded crime does include crimes against businesses, it does not separate these out from other crimes (other than for robbery of business property and offences of shoplifting which, by their nature, are against businesses) and only includes crimes reported to and recorded by the police.

The Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS) took place in 2012, having previously run in 1994 and 2002. Work is underway on the 2013 CVS (with headline results due to be released in early 2014) and it is planned to be repeated in 2014.The first release of data examined the extent of crime against businesses premises in the manufacturing, wholesale and retail, transportation and storage, and accommodation and food industry sectors in England and Wales (2012 CVS).

Results from the 2012 CVS

Headline results from the 2012 CVS estimated that there were 9.2 million crimes against business in the four sectors covered by the survey (manufacturing, wholesale and retail, transportation and storage and accommodation and food) in the year prior to interview (Figure 1.12). Of the offences measured by the CVS, 91% were property related.

Figure 1.12: Crime experienced by businesses in selected sectors, 2012

Figure 1.12: Crime experienced by businesses in selected sectors, 2012

Notes:

  1. Source: 2012 Commercial Victimisation Survey, Home Office

Download chart

Comparisons with the 2002 CVS

The vast majority of crimes (84%; 7.7 million) measured by the 2012 CVS were experienced by premises in the wholesale and retail sector. This sector was also included in the 2002 CVS, and although differences in methodology and some small differences in coverage mean that results are only broadly comparable, the general pattern appears to be that the level of crime against this sector has fallen, mirroring the falls seen amongst the household population.

The crime type most frequently experienced by wholesale and retail premises was theft by customers, which was estimated at 4.1 million crimes in 2012 (53% of all crime against the retail sector measured by the 2012 CVS) compared with 11.5 million crimes in 2002 (55% of all crime against the retail sector measured by the 2002 CVS) . Similarly, the proportion of premises experiencing this type of crime fell from 43% in the 2002 CVS to 21% in the 2012 CVS. Theft by unknown persons was the next most frequent crime experienced by the wholesale and retail sector, and estimates of these offences fell from 3.2 million incidents in 2002 to 1.8 million incidents in 2012.

Explaining the reduction in business crime

The reasons for the reduction in theft by customers and theft by unknown persons (shoplifting) estimated by the 2012 CVS are likely to be the same as the reasons for the falls seen in other property crime such as burglary, theft and vandalism seen over the same period. Funding drug addiction is often cited as the most common reason for shoplifting; according to the British Retail Consortium, around 65% of shoplifters arrested test positive for drugs or say they steal to support their habit1. Therefore any decreases in drug dependency are likely to impact on levels of shoplifting. There are a number of additional theories which were discussed in further detail in Focus on Property Crime 2011/12

Background notes

  1.  If you have any queries regarding crime statistics for England and Wales please email crimestatistics@ons.gsi.gov.uk.

  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    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.

    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

    • meet identified user needs;
    • are well explained and readily accessible;
    • are produced according to sound methods; and
    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

    Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.