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

Released: 09 May 2013 Download PDF

Summary

  • 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 offences and 81% of all incidents measured by the Crime Survey for England and Wales. The 2012 Commercial Victimisation Survey showed that the vast majority of crimes against selected business sectors were property related (91%) and that 67% were incidents of theft experienced by the wholesale and retail sector.

  • The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) shows substantial falls in property crime, with levels having fallen by half since they peaked in the mid-1990s. These were driven by large reductions in high volume crimes such as vandalism, vehicle-related theft and burglary. While these high volume crime types continue to show falls, in contrast recent trends show increases in the lower volume personal theft offences such as theft from the person recorded by the police.

  • The 2011/12 CSEW also indicates a change in the types of items stolen. Mobile phones were the most commonly stolen item in incidents of theft from the person, where previously (based on the 2010/11 CSEW) purses, wallets and cash were most commonly stolen in this type of incident. Computers were the most commonly stolen items in burglaries according to the 2011/12 CSEW. Previously (based on the 2010/11 CSEW), purses, wallets and cash were most commonly stolen in incidents of burglary.

  • Recent increases in personal theft offences may reflect a range of factors including thieves focusing on high cost portable items such as mobile phones or tablet computers which are difficult to secure against theft and increasingly widely used.

  • Improvements in vehicle security are thought to have been a major contributor to the steep falls in vehicle-related theft. The number of cars stolen by the forcing of door locks has decreased from 65% of vehicles stolen in 1995 to 22% in 2011/12. A significantly higher proportion of vehicles were stolen in 2011/12 by the offender using a key (46%) compared with 1995 (9%) and 2010/11 (26%).

  • Bicycle theft also saw some notable reductions from peak levels in the mid 1990s. However, increases in bicycle theft were seen between the 2002/03 and 2006/07 surveys, after which levels have fluctuated year to year, while other property crime types continued to decline.

  • Trends over the last 3 to 4 years show increases in some types of theft offences including theft from the person, other theft of personal property and other household theft measured by the CSEW and theft from the person and theft of unattended property recorded by the police.

  • Characteristics that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of victimisation varied by property crime type. For example, for both vehicle-related theft and theft from the person, younger adults were more likely to have been victims. The characteristic that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of being a victim of burglary was the level of home security; those households with less security measures in place were more likely to fall victim. Households in urban areas were also more likely to be victims of burglary than those in rural areas.

  • The profile of burglary victims has remained broadly similar over time and the reduction in the rate of burglary victimisation from 1995 to 2011/12 can be seen across different demographic groups.

Overview of property crime

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, theft offences, fraud, forgery and criminal damage. For the purposes of this report, robbery1 is also included as a property crime.

This ‘Focus on: Property crime’ release presents crime statistics from three different sources: the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW, previously known as the British Crime Survey), 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. 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. In 2009 the CSEW was extended to cover children aged 10 to 15, and, where appropriate, data are included for this age group. The CVS is a nationally representative sample of business premises in four sectors (manufacturing, wholesale and retail, transportation and storage and accommodation and food).

Property crime accounted for 72% of all police recorded crime (an estimated 2,871,000 offences) in 2011/12 and 81% of all crime measured by the 2011/12 CSEW (an estimated 7,730,000 incidents). 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 crime accounted for by property crime measured by the Crime Survey for England and Wales since 1981 and the police since 2002/03 means that these types of crimes, in particular the high volume crimes such as vehicle-related theft, vandalism and burglary, are important in driving overall crime trends.

The largest component of property crime in the 2011/12 CSEW was vandalism (26%). There were similar proportions of ‘other’ household theft (theft outside a dwelling and theft in a dwelling by someone entitled to be there; 18%), vehicle-related theft (16%) and ‘other’ theft of personal property (theft of unattended property; 14%). For a full breakdown of CSEW property crime, see Figure 1.1.

Figure 1.1: Composition of CSEW property crime, 2011/12

Figure 1.1: Composition of CSEW property crime, 2011/12

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.

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Burglary and offences against vehicles together make up approximately a third of all police recorded property crime (17% and 15% respectively). The category of other theft offences, which includes offences such as theft from the person, shoplifting, bicycle theft and theft of unattended items accounted for 38% of police recorded crime. For a full breakdown of police recorded property crime, see Figure 1.2.

Figure 1.2: Composition of police recorded property crime, 2011/12

Figure 1.2: Composition of police recorded property crime, 2011/12

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.

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Trends in CSEW property crime

The CSEW covers crimes against households and people in those households in England and Wales. It comprises a narrower range of offences included in the police recorded crime collection (with necessary exclusions from its main count of crime, for example, crimes against businesses), 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 subsequently recorded by, the police.

The long-term trend in CSEW property crime is consistent with the long-term trend in total CSEW crime, having shown steady increases from 1981 when the survey started, peaking in 1995, followed by steady declines since that peak. Levels observed in the 2011/12 CSEW have fallen by half since 1995 (Figure 1.3). This trend is consistent with that seen in many other countries (Tseloni et al., 2010). The proportion of all CSEW crime accounted for by property crime has remained relatively stable over time, fluctuating slightly between 82% and 85% in the early years of the survey (pre-1995) and remaining between 80% and 82% since 1995.

Figure 1.3: Long-term trends in CSEW property crime and CSEW total crime, 1981 to 1

Figure 1.3: Long-term trends in CSEW property crime and CSEW total crime, 1981 to 1

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) 1981 to 1999 refers to the calendar year (January to December). b) 2001/02 to 2011/12 refers to the financial year (April to March).

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Trends in police recorded property crime

Police recorded crime includes notifiable offences that have been reported to and recorded by the police. There have been two major changes in the recording of crimes in recent years; in 1998 the Home Office Counting Rules for recorded crime were expanded to include additional summary offences, and counts became more victim-based, and in April 2002 the National Crime Recording Standard was introduced across England and Wales to ensure greater consistency between forces in recording crime. Although property crime was less affected by these changes (and broad comparisons indicate a similar trend to CSEW incidents), police recorded crime figures cannot be compared back beyond 2002/03 and therefore trends are only shown from 2002/03 onwards.

As with crime measured by the CSEW, the trend in police recorded property crime is similar to the trend for all police recorded crime (Figure 1.4). Since 2002/03, property crime has shown year-on-year falls and it is 41% lower in volume in 2011/12 than in 2002/03. This represents a faster rate of reduction than overall police recorded crime which fell by 33% over the same period. Thus, the proportion of total police recorded crime accounted for by property crime2 has decreased by 9 percentage points; from 81% in 2002/03 to 72% in 2011/12. Reflecting this change, the relative contribution of other crime types have increased slightly over this period (violent crime by 5 percentage points, drug offences by 4 percentage points and other miscellaneous offences by 1 percentage point).

Figure 1.4: Trends in police recorded property crime and total recorded crime, 2002/03 to 2011/12

Figure 1.4: Trends in police recorded property crime and total recorded crime, 2002/03 to 2011/12

Notes:

  1. Source: Police recorded crime, Home Office.

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Existing theories on why property crime has fallen

The reduction in property crime has been an important factor in driving falls in overall crime. There is broad support for the view that increased quantity and quality of household and vehicle security has been an important factor in the reduction in property crime, and as a result overall crime levels. However, improved home and vehicle security only directly impact on the property crimes of burglary and vehicle-related theft offences. Some additional theories are outlined below. For further discussion on the trend in property crime, see Trends in crime – a short story 2011/12.

  • Burglary and vehicle-related theft are considered to be ‘keystone’ crimes, which are thought to facilitate and encourage other types of crime and more serious crime. If ‘keystone crimes’ are more difficult to carry out (due to improved security for example), youngsters may never take part in criminal activity (Farrell et al., 2010).

  • The rise in the use of the internet has very roughly coincided with falls in crime (in 1995 use of the internet was not widespread). As it became more popular, it may have helped to occupy young people’s time when they may otherwise have turned to crime. It also provides more opportunity for online crime which is not as easily quantifiable at present as traditional crime types (Farrell et al., 2011).

  • Reduced consumption of drugs and alcohol (Bunge et al., 2005).

  • Demographic changes, such as falling numbers of young men in the population (Fox, 2011).

  • Changes (real or perceived) in technology and infrastructure, including security technology (such as CCTV).

  • Improved forensic methods (Farrell et al., 2010)

  • The introduction of legalised abortion (Donohue and Levitt, 2001).

  • The impact of longer prison sentences and police activity on reducing crime, particularly property crimes (Bandyopadhyay et al., 2012)

Many believe the recession in the early 1980s and the resulting unemployment, particularly concentrated in the young male population, was linked to the increase in crime seen throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. It was therefore predicted that the onset of recession in 2008/09 would result in an increase in crime, particularly in property crimes such as burglaries, thefts and robberies. There have been no such increases apparent in either police recorded crime or CSEW trends. However, whilst there have been no overall increases in crime, or property crimes specifically, there has been some upward pressure on some specific crime types, including theft from the person, other theft of personal property and other household theft measured by the CSEW and theft from the person and theft of unattended items recorded by the police.

Levels of victimisation

The CSEW provides estimates of victimisation rates for the crimes that it covers, and these vary by property crime type (Figure 1.5). Among households interviewed in the 2011/12 CSEW, 5.8% had experienced vandalism, 5.5% of vehicle-owning households had experienced vehicle-related theft, 3.4% of bicycle owning households had had a bicycle stolen and 2.4% of households had been burgled. Among adults aged 16 and over, 1.3% had been a victim of theft from the person in the previous 12 months and 0.5% had been a victim of robbery. Eight per cent of children aged 10-153 had been a victim of personal theft (including theft from the person, bicycle theft, other personal theft etc.) and 0.8% had been a victim of vandalism to personal property.

Figure 1.5: CSEW property crime victimisation of households, adults aged 16 and over and children aged 10 to 15, 2011/12

Figure 1.5: CSEW property crime victimisation of households, adults aged 16 and over and children aged 10 to 15, 2011/12

Notes:

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

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Characteristics associated with being a victim of property crime

The proportion of households and individuals that were victims of CSEW property crime in the 12 months prior to being interviewed varied by household and personal characteristics.

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.

Characteristics that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of victimisation varied by property crime type (Table 1.1). 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 of 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). More detail is given on key household and personal characteristics in the overviews of individual property crime types later in this chapter.

Table 1.1: Characteristics most associated with property crime victimisation, 2011/12

England and Wales

Adults aged 16 and over/households
Property crime type Characteristic most associated with being a victim
Burglary Level of home security
Vandalism Number of cars owned by household
Vehicle-related theft Age of household reference person
Theft from the person Age of respondent

Table notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. The household reference person is the member of the household in whose name the accommodation is owned or rented, or is otherwise responsible for the accommodation.

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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. According to the 2011/12 survey, the items most commonly stolen in incidents of burglary were computers and/or computer equipment4 (40% of burglaries). Mobile phones were the most common items stolen in incidents of robbery (56%) and theft from the person (for example pick pocketing;5 43%). Table 1.2 shows the items most commonly stolen in different types of property crime where theft is involved. See the Nature of crime tables for more detail.

Table 1.2: Item most commonly stolen in incidents of property crime, 2011/12

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 Computer/computer equipment 40
Burglary to non-connected building Tools/work materials 34
Theft in a dwelling Purse/wallet/money 47
Theft outside a dwelling Garden furniture 44
All other household theft Garden furniture 40
Theft from a vehicle Exterior fittings 37
Robbery Mobile phone 56
Theft from the person Mobile phone 43
Other theft of personal property Cash/foreign currency 25
Thefts experienced by children Bicycle/bicycle parts 22

Table notes:

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

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Clarke’s CRAVED hypothesis, (1999) says that the most frequently stolen products are those which are concealable, removable, available, valuable, enjoyable and, probably most critically, disposable (easily re-sold). In the 2011/12 survey computers overtook purses, wallets and cash as the most commonly stolen item in incidents of burglary compared with 2010/11. Computers have evolved to become more attractive to criminals, and would usually be more valuable than purses, wallets or money which would be kept within the home. Mobile phones have very recently become more valuable and have been the most common item stolen in incidents of robbery for the past two years. Mobiles also overtook purses, wallets and cash as the item most commonly stolen in theft from the person offences according to the 2011/12 survey.

When do property crimes happen?

Victims of CSEW property crime are asked about the circumstances of the incident, including when it happened. The 2011/12 CSEW showed that property crimes happened mostly in the evening or night (ranging from 58% to 82% of incidents depending on the property crime type). Exceptions to this general pattern were theft in a dwelling, theft from the person and other theft of personal property which were more likely to happen in the daytime (65%, 60% and 53% of incidents respectively). As might be expected, the majority of thefts experienced by children aged 10 to 15 took place during daylight hours (83%). See Nature of crime tables for more information.

Crime has been shown to be affected by short-term variations associated with the time of year (Hird and Ruparel, 2007) with property crimes such as burglary in a dwelling and vehicle-related theft tending to peak in the winter months, probably due to longer periods of darkness. Burglaries also tend to peak around the Christmas period when the amount of valuable items in households increases.

Reporting to the police

Figure 1.6 shows reporting rates by property crime type from the 2011/12 CSEW. Incidents of theft of a vehicle were most likely to be reported to the police (94% of incidents), which has been the case since the survey began in 1981, followed by burglary with loss (81% of incidents). Theft from the person and other household theft incidents were least likely to have been reported to the police in 2011/12 and in previous years. The most common reason respondents gave for not doing so was that the incident was trivial/there was no loss or the police could not/would not do anything (see Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2012 - Annual trend and demographic tables 2011/12, Table D14).

Figure 1.6: Proportion of CSEW property crime incidents reported to the police, 2011/12

Figure 1.6: Proportion of CSEW property crime incidents reported to the police, 2011/12

Notes:

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

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Impact on victims

With the exception of robbery, property crime, by definition, does not result in physical injury to the victim. However, the emotional impact can still be considerable for victims. Figure 1.7 shows that victims of burglary were the most likely to say that they had been very emotionally affected by the crime (30% of victims). In contrast, 9% of victims of other household theft, which is mainly theft of garden furniture and items from outside the home and therefore less likely to involve an invasion of privacy, said that they had been very emotionally affected by the incident.

Figure 1.7: Emotional response to property crime victimisation, 2011/12

Figure 1.7: Emotional response to property crime victimisation, 2011/12

Notes:

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

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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 shown in Figure 1.8, theft of a vehicle, robbery and burglary were considered to be the most serious property crimes.

Figure 1.8: Mean perceived seriousness scores by property crime type, 2011/12

Figure 1.8: Mean perceived seriousness scores by property crime type, 2011/12

Notes:

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

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Notes for Overview of property crime

  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. Including robbery.
  3. 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 2011/12 and the User Guide.
  4. For example PCs, Macs, printers, scanners.
  5. Where items are taken from someone with or without their knowledge.

Overview of burglary

The police record an incident of burglary if a person enters any building as a trespasser and with the intent to commit an offence of theft, grievous bodily harm or unlawful damage (something does not necessarily have to be stolen for the incident to be recorded as a burglary offence). Police recorded burglary covers both domestic and non-domestic burglary and accounts for 17% of all police recorded property crime. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) covers domestic burglary only which accounts for 9% of all CSEW property crime.

Trends in burglary

CSEW burglary levels peaked in 1993 (Figure 1.9). Despite some fluctuations from year to year, the underlying trend has remained fairly stable since 2004/05, at around 700,000 incidents per year.  The proportion of households burgled in the last year has fallen from 7 in 100 in 1993 to 2 in 100 according to the 2011/12 survey. In around three in five burglaries, entry was successful, and of these, something was taken in 69% of incidents (see Burglary nature of crime tables). This means that in incidents of burglary where entry was successful, 31% resulted in nothing being taken. Police recorded burglary has shown year-on-year decreases from 890,099 offences in 2002/03 to 501,053 offences in 2011/12.

Figure 1.9: Trends in CSEW domestic burglary, 1981 to 2011/12

Figure 1.9: Trends in CSEW domestic burglary, 1981 to 2011/12

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) 1981 to 1999 refers to the calendar year (January to December). b) 2001/02 to 2011/12 refers to the financial year (April to March).

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Many commentators cite the reason for the reduction in the level of burglary demonstrated by CSEW and police recorded crime figures as being attributable to improvements in home security.

The relationship between burglary and home security

Since 1994, the CSEW has measured household use of home security devices. The proportion of households using them has increased over the same period that burglary incidents have decreased, supporting the theory that wider use of more and better home security has contributed to this drop (Tilley et al., 2011). Between 1995 and 2011/12 the number of burglaries in England and Wales has reduced by 60%, from 1.7 million in 1995 to 0.7 million as measured by the 2011/12 survey. Figure 1.10 shows the proportion of households with security devices and burglary victimisation indexed to 1995 to illustrate their inverse relationship. Over the period when burglaries reduced by 60%, the proportion of households with:

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

  • double/dead locks increased by 12 percentage points (from 70% to 82% of households);

  • light timers/sensors increased by 12 percentage points (from 39% to 51% of households), and;

  • burglar alarms increased by 9 percentage points (from 20% to 29% of households).

However, for window locks, double locks and sensors to already be at the levels they were in 1995, they must have been increasing in the early 1990s, during the period when burglaries were increasing. 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, it is also likely that other factors contributed to the dramatic fall in burglary during the latter half of the 1990s.

Figure 1.10: Household security devices and burglary victimisation, 1995 to 2011/12 (indexed to 1995)

Figure 1.10: Household security devices and burglary victimisation, 1995 to 2011/12 (indexed to 1995)

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. The graph is indexed to 1995 to illustrate the relationship between home security levels and burglary victimisation.
  3. 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 2011/12 refers to the financial year (April to March).

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Analysis of the 2011/12 CSEW shows that 6% of households with no or less than basic1 home security were victims of burglary in the previous 12 months compared with 1% of households with basic or enhanced security2. In terms of the profile of households who were burgled, around two in three (65%) had no or less than basic home security measures in place. Of the households who were not victims of burglary, only a quarter (26%) had no or less than basic security measures in place (Figure 1.11). The security measure with the biggest percentage point difference between those who were and were not burgled was window locks. Fifty per cent of those who were burgled had them compared with 88% of those who were not. Research by Tilley et al., (2011) shows that enhanced security confers the greatest burglary protection for those who can least afford it, for example in deprived areas.

Figure 1.11: Home security and burglary victimisation, 2011/12

Figure 1.11: Home security and burglary victimisation, 2011/12

Notes:

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

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Items stolen in burglaries

Results from the 2011/12 CSEW show that in 69% of burglaries with entry, something was stolen. Figure 1.12 shows common items stolen in such incidents in 1995 and 2011/12; the size of the word reflects the proportion of burglaries where that item was stolen rather than volume. The 2011/12 survey was the first in which computers were the most common item stolen in burglaries (40% in 2011/12). The items most commonly stolen in burglaries were purses, wallets and money in 2010/11 (35%) and electrical goods in 1995 (62%).

Figure 1.12: Common items stolen in incidents of burglary with loss, 1995 and 2011/12

Figure 1.12: Common items stolen in incidents of burglary with loss, 1995 and 2011/12

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. The size of the word reflects the proportion of incidents where the item was stolen, not the volume.
  3. More than one item can be stolen in one incident.

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Nature of burglary incidents

The 2011/12 CSEW showed that 68% of burglaries occurred during the week (equivalent to 15% per week day) and 32% during the weekend3 (equivalent to 13% per weekend day) meaning that the likelihood of being a victim of burglary was slightly higher during the week. Sixty per cent of burglaries took place in the evening or night and over half (56%) took place when there was someone at home. Offenders gained entry to the property from the front of the household in 54% of burglaries and from the back in 40% of burglaries. The most common form of entry was through a door (73%) and in 27% of these incidents, the lock was forced. This form of entry has been the most common since the survey began measuring method of entry.

The cost of the items stolen in burglaries where something was taken was most commonly £1,000 or more (43%). The proportion of burglaries where the value of the items stolen was in this most valuable category has increased significantly compared with the 2003/04 CSEW, from 31% to 43% of burglaries, which is expected given inflation.

Damage to property was caused in half of the burglaries measured by the CSEW (50%). Damage was most commonly a broken or damaged outside door (47% of burglaries where damage was caused), a broken window (30%) or damage to a lock (23%). Where there was a cost involved from damage caused during a burglary (in 45% of incidents), the most common amount spent on repairs was between £100 and £249 (13%). See Burglary nature of crime tables for more information.

Emotional impact of burglary

The CSEW asks victims of crime to say whether they were emotionally affected by the incident. In 85% of burglary incidents, the respondent said that they were emotionally affected, and almost a third of those (30%) said that they had been very emotionally affected.

The most common type of emotional reaction experienced by victims of burglary was anger (50% of victims) followed by annoyance (40%). Almost a third of victims said that they experienced feelings of fear (29%) and/or a loss of confidence or feelings of vulnerability (28%). A significantly higher proportion of victims of burglary experienced feelings of fear and/or anxiety or panic attacks in the 2011/12 CSEW compared with the 2003/04 CSEW (29% in 2011/12 compared with 23% in 2003/04 for feelings of fear; 17% in 2011/12 compared with 12% in 2003/04 for feelings of anxiety or panic attacks).

Characteristics associated with victims of burglary (see Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2012 – Annual trend and demographic tables 2011/12, Table D6).

Among households interviewed in the 2011/12 CSEW, 2.4% had experienced one or more burglaries in the previous 12 months. This proportion varied by household characteristics:

  • Households with no or less than basic home security were more likely to be victims of burglary (10.9%) than households with basic security (3.5%) and households with enhanced security (0.9%).

  • Households resident in urban areas were more likely to have been victims of burglary in the previous 12 months compared with those living in rural areas (2.7% compared with 0.9%).

The likelihood of being a victim of burglary was highest in the mid-1990s. The reduction in the rate of victimisation had a similar impact on the whole population, so the differential between demographic groups has remained the same, albeit at a lower rate of victimisation in 2011/12:

  • Three per cent of households living in flats or maisonettes were victims of burglary (3.3%), a higher proportion than those living in detached (1.3%), semi-detached (2.2%) and terraced houses (2.8%) in 2011/12.

  • In 1995, 7.3% of households living in flats were victims of burglary compared with 5.5% of those living in detached/semi-detached houses. The likelihood of burglary victimisation for households living in terraced houses was similar to households living in flats (7.2%).

  • Private (3.8%) and social renters (3.5%) were twice as likely to have been victims of burglary than households who owned their own property (1.6%) in 2011/12. This compares to 9.0% and 7.4% of social and private renters in 1995 and 5.3% of home owners.

  • In 1995 the burglary victimisation rate for lone-parent households was more than double (14.9%) that for households with adults and children (6.1%) and adults only (6.7%). The 2011/12 survey shows that lone-parent households remain twice as likely to have been burgled (5.8%) as households with adults and children (2.4%) and adults only (2.1%; Figure 1.13).

Figure 1.13: Household structure and burglary victimisation, 1995 and 2011/12

Figure 1.13: Household structure and burglary victimisation, 1995 and 2011/12

Notes:

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

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A full breakdown of the prevalence of burglary victimisation by household is shown in Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2012 - Annual trend and demographic tables 2011/12, Table D6 for the 2011/12 CSEW and Table 5.1 in the 1996 British Crime Survey statistical bulletin.

Analysis of likelihood of burglary victimisation 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 into account the fact that some variables may be interrelated. For example, a higher proportion of students were victims of burglary in 2011/12 compared to individuals with other employment statuses, but this may have been because students were more likely to live in urban areas with no home security (see Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2012 – Annual trend and demographic tables 2011/12, Table D6). Logistic regression is able to isolate each variable and control for the impact of other variables to show whether it is being a student, living in an urban area or having no home security 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.

Logistic regression shows that those characteristics that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of burglary in 2011/12 were the home security level and the type of area (rural or urban) the household was in4. Other important factors were the length of time the household was left unoccupied during the day, total household income, age of household reference person and accommodation type (flat, semi-detached house, terraced house). Note that household structure was not shown to be a characteristic that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of burglary by logistic regression analysis, despite the victimisation rate being quite different between categories. This suggests that it is the presence factors that might be associated with different household structures that influence the likelihood of being a victim of burglary rather than household structure itself.

The model shows that, assuming all other characteristics are constant5 :

  • households with no or less than basic security6 had around 10 times the odds of being a victim of burglary than households with at least basic home security7;

  • households in urban areas were almost 6 times as likely to have been victims of burglary compared with households in rural areas, and;

  • households in an urban area with no or less than basic security had around 50 times the likelihood of being a victim of burglary than households with at least basic security measures in rural areas.

For more a more detailed breakdown of these figures see Appendix Table 1.01 (829 Kb Excel sheet) . For more information on the methodology and interpretation of logistic regression presented here, see Section 8.4 of the User Guide.

Notes for Overview of burglary

  1. Households with window and double/deadlocks are described as having 'basic' home security; 'less than basic' includes households with one or more security measures, but not having both window and double/deadlocks in place.
  2. Households with advanced security are those with at least one other security measure in addition to both window and double/deadlocks.
  3. The CSEW categorises ‘weekend’ as being from 6pm on Saturday to 6am on Monday.
  4. In 2011/12 home security questions were only asked of an eighth of the CSEW sample and therefore the reliability of logistic regression is lower that it would be had the whole sample been included. However, similar analysis with a larger sample was conducted in 2009/10 and results were similar.
  5. See Appendix table 1.01 (829 Kb Excel sheet) . The characteristics that are italicised and have an odds ratio of 1 remain constant.
  6. No or less than basic security – households with no home security measures or households with some security devices but without both window locks and double or deadlocks on outside doors.
  7. Basic home security – households with window locks and double or deadlocks on outside doors.

Overview of criminal damage/vandalism

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) provides estimates of vandalism to household property, separated into vehicle vandalism (which accounts for around two-thirds of CSEW vandalism) and vandalism to the home or other property (which accounts for around one-third of CSEW vandalism). Police recorded criminal damage includes offences of damage to domestic and non-domestic properties and vehicles. See chapter 5 of the User Guide for more information. CSEW vandalism accounts for 26% of CSEW property crime; criminal damage accounts for 22% of police recorded property crime. According to the 2011/12 CSEW, around 34% of incidents of vandalism were reported to the police (Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2012 - Annual trend and demographic tables 2011/12, Table D13). Estimates from the 2011/12 CSEW show that there were 39,000 incidents of vandalism to the personal property of children aged 10 to 15.

Long-term trends in CSEW vandalism

Figure 1.14 shows CSEW vandalism levels peaking in 1993 and then decreasing until the 2003/04 CSEW. This was followed by a period of increases until the 2006/07 CSEW, after which the number of incidents have fallen. This recent downward trend in incidents is reflected in the percentage of households victimised once or more; 6 in 100 households were victims of vandalism in the 2011/12 CSEW compared with 10 in 100 households in 1993 when levels peaked. Roughly two-thirds of vandalism relates to vehicle vandalism, which has followed a similar trend to overall vandalism. Around one third of vandalism incidents involve damage to other property. This category showed a large increase in 1993 after which levels decreased, so that in 2011/12, as with vehicle and overall vandalism, levels were the lowest measured since the survey began.

Figure 1.14: Trends in CSEW vandalism, 1981 to 2011/12

Figure 1.14: Trends in CSEW vandalism, 1981 to 2011/12

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. The data on this chart refer to different time periods: c) 1981 to 1999 refers to the calendar year (January to December). d) 2001/02 to 2011/12 refers to the financial year (April to March).

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Nature of CSEW vandalism incidents

The 2011/12 CSEW showed that 60% of vandalism incidents occurred during the week (equivalent to 13% per week day) and 40% during the weekend1 (equivalent to 16% per weekend day) meaning that the likelihood of being a victim of vandalism was slightly higher at the weekend. These proportions were similar for incidents when split into vehicle and household vandalism. Incidents of vehicle vandalism most often occurred on the street (59% of vehicle vandalism incidents near the home).

The most common type of damage caused in vehicle vandalism was scratched bodywork (41%), followed by damage to bodywork (22%). Broken walls, fences or other garden items were the most common types of vandalism to the home or property (26%), followed by house or flat windows being broken (15% of home vandalism incidents). The median value of damage caused in vehicle vandalism incidents in 2011/12 was £150; in over a quarter of incidents (28%) the cost of damage was between £200 and £499. The cost of damage was lower for household vandalism incidents; the median value was £50 and almost a quarter of incidents (24%) cost the victim £20 to £49. See Vandalism nature of crime tables for more information.

Emotional impact and perceived seriousness of vandalism

The CSEW asks victims of crime whether they were emotionally affected by the incident. The majority of vandalism victims (86%) said that they were emotionally affected, although a high proportion of those (46%) said that this was just a little. The most common type of emotional reaction experienced by victims of vandalism was annoyance (59%), followed by anger (54%). Three-quarters of victims of vehicle or home vandalism incidents rated the seriousness of the crime as low (1 to 6 out of 20; 76%).

Offenders

Victims of crime were also asked whether they are able to say anything about the characteristics of the offender. Reflecting the nature of the crime, only a quarter of vandalism victims were able to do this. In 44% of these incidents victims said there was just one offender. Survey findings also indicate that the vast majority of offenders were male (72%) and young (39% were under 16, 41% were aged 16 to 24).

Likelihood of being a victim of vandalism

The 2011/12 CSEW estimated that 5.8% of households experienced some form of vandalism in the previous 12 months (5.4% of vehicle-owning households had experienced vehicle vandalism and 1.8% of all households had experienced vandalism to the home or other property).

The proportion of households that were victims of vandalism in the last 12 months varied by household characteristics:

  • Households with three or more cars (8.0%) were more likely to have been a victim of vandalism than households with two (7.0%), one (6.6%) or no cars (2.4%) reflecting the fact that around two-thirds of vandalism incidents are vehicle-related.

  • Households living in terraced houses were more likely to have been victims of vandalism (8.0%) compared with those living in flats/maisonettes (4.9%) and detached houses (4.1%).

A full breakdown of the likelihood of households being a victim of vandalism by personal, household and area characteristics is shown in Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 1012 - Annual trend and demographic tables 2011/12, Table D9. Many of these characteristics will be closely associated so caution is needed in the interpretation of the affect of these different characteristics when viewed in isolation. Further analysis using logistic regression can be used to control for interrelated characteristics and to identify which characteristics are independently associated to increased likelihood of victimisation.

Analysis of likelihood of vandalism using logistic regression

Logistic regression shows that those characteristics that contribute most to explaining the likelihood of being a victim of vandalism are the number of cars owned, the type of area (as defined by the output area classification) and the age of the household reference person. Other important factors were accommodation type (for example house, flat, other etc), the level of physical disorder in the area (as assessed by the survey interviewer), total household income, tenure (for example owner occupiers or privately/socially rented) structure of the household, and whether the area was rural or urban.

The logistic regression model shows that assuming all other characteristics are constant2 :

  • households with three or more cars had five times the odds of being a victim of vandalism than households with no cars;

  • households living in areas classified as ‘constrained by circumstances3’ had twice the odds of being victims of vandalism than those living in areas classified as ‘countryside’;

  • households with a household reference person aged 16 to 24 had higher odds of being victims of vandalism than households with an older household reference person; almost 3 times that of a household with a household reference person aged 75 and over, and;

  • a household with 3 or more cars living in an area described as ‘constrained by circumstances’ with a household reference person aged 16 to 24 had around 15 times the probability of being a victim of vandalism compared with a household without a car, living in an area described as ‘prospering suburbs’ and a household reference person aged 65 to 74.

For a more detailed breakdown of these figures see Appendix table 1.02 (829 Kb Excel sheet) . For more information on the methodology and interpretation of logistic regression presented here, see Section 8.4 of the User Guide.

Notes for Overview of criminal damage/vandalism

  1. The CSEW categorises ‘weekend’ as being from 6pm on Saturday to 6am on Monday.
  2. See Appendix table 1.02 (829 Kb Excel sheet) . The characteristics that are italicised and have an odds ratio of 1 remain constant.
  3. See Section 7.1 of the User Guide for more details on output area classifications. Areas classified as constrained by circumstances are typically made up of senior communities, older workers and social housing.

Overview of vehicle crime

Vehicle-related theft covered by the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) includes unauthorised taking of a vehicle, theft from a motor vehicle and attempted thefts of vehicles owned by the population resident in households. Police recorded offences against vehicles cover both private and commercial vehicles and comprises: aggravated vehicle taking; theft or attempted theft of a vehicle; theft or attempted theft from a vehicle and interfering with a motor vehicle. For more information see Section 5.2 of the User Guide.

The 2011/12 CSEW estimated that 77% of households in England and Wales owned one or more vehicles and that 5.5% of vehicle-owning households had been a victim of vehicle-related theft compared with 19.7% in 1993. Vehicle-related theft accounted for 16% of all CSEW property crime. The largest component of this type of incident is theft from a vehicle, accounting for almost three-quarters of all CSEW vehicle-related theft in 2011/12 (73%).

Vehicle offences accounted for 15% of all police recorded property crime in 2011/12. Similar to the CSEW vehicle-related theft, the majority of offences within this category are theft from a vehicle (72%).

Long-term trends in vehicle crime

Long-term trends show CSEW vehicle-related theft peaking in the mid-1990s after which there were substantial declines (Figure 1.15). Police recorded vehicle crime has shown a similar trend; since 2002/03 offences against vehicles have fallen by 61%, from 1.1 million offences in 2002/03 to 0.4 million offences in 2011/12.

In England and Wales in the 1980s and 1990s, a quarter of police recorded crimes related to theft of, and theft from, motor vehicles; they now account for only around one in ten (Farrell et al., 2010). Although this is in part due to the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in 2002/03 which resulted in increased numbers of violent crimes being recorded, it also reflects the notable decline in the number of vehicle crimes being recorded by the police. The reductions in vehicle-related theft indicated by the CSEW and police recorded crime is in contrast to the number of motor vehicles licensed in Great Britain, having increased by 35% from 25.4 million in 1995 to 34.2 million in 2011 (Vehicle Licensing Statistics, 20111). 

Figure 1.15: Trends in CSEW vehicle-related theft, 1981 to 2011/12

Figure 1.15: Trends in CSEW vehicle-related theft, 1981 to 2011/12

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics, and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
  2. The data on this chart refer to different time periods: a) 1981 to 1999 refers to the calendar year (January to December). b) 2001/02 to 2011/12 refers to the financial year (April to March). c) All licensed vehicle numbers are based on calendar years, so for example, the number shown for 2011/12 is the 2011 figure.

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Vehicle security

The reduction in the number of vehicle-related thefts since the mid 1990s may be attributed to improvements in vehicle security, particularly central-locking (potentially reducing the number of theft from and of vehicle incidents) and immobilising systems (potentially reducing the number of theft of vehicle incidents) and has contributed to the drop in overall crime over the same period. However, improvements in security are unlikely to be the sole factor, and the dramatic decrease which started in the mid-1990s is also evident in the trend for bicycle theft (see the Overview of bicycle theft section for more information) and violent crime (see the violence section of Trends in Crime - A Short Story 2011/12) which are less likely to be due to improvements in security and may be evidence for there being other factors that affected the propensity for crime in the mid 1990s.

Evidence suggests that the introduction of immobilisers has affected the type of vehicle stolen, with a shift towards older cars, and may be the cause of the continued decrease in vehicle theft after 2000 (after which the trend in bicycle theft began to increase). Research by Farrell et al. (2011) showed that vehicles with a combination of central locking, an electronic immobiliser and often an alarm were 25 times less likely to be stolen that vehicles without security.

Items stolen in vehicle-related crime

Results from the 2011/12 CSEW show that in incidents of theft from a vehicle, the most common items stolen were exterior fittings (for example, hub caps, wheel trims, number plates; stolen in 37% of theft from vehicle incidents). Valuables, including jewellery, handbags, wallets and money were the next most common item stolen (18%) 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 2011/12 compared with 2003/042 (Figure 1.16).

Figure 1.16: Items stolen in incidents of theft from vehicles, 2003/04 and 2011/12

Figure 1.16: Items stolen in incidents of theft from vehicles, 2003/04 and 2011/12

Notes:

  1. Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics.
  2. The size of the words reflect the proportion of incidents where the item was stolen, not the volume.
  3. More than one item can be stolen in one incident.

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Nature of vehicle-related thefts

The 2011/12 CSEW showed that, similarly to burglary, 69% of vehicle-related thefts occurred during the week (equivalent to 15% per week day) and 31% during the weekend3 (equivalent to 12% per weekend day) meaning that the likelihood of being a victim of vehicle related theft is slightly higher during the week. In the 2011/12 CSEW, 41% of vehicle-related thefts occurred on the street at/near the home and 31% happened in a semi-private location (includes outside areas on the premises and garages or car parks around but not connected to the home). The most common ways that entry to the vehicle was gained was using an unlocked door (34%) followed by breaking a window (31%) and forcing the lock (21%). See Vehicle related theft nature of crime tables for more information.

Theft of vehicles

In incidents of theft of a vehicle, 62% were not returned to the owner. This is significantly higher than the proportion in 1997 (the first year for which this data are available), where only 39% were not returned. This might suggest that fewer vehicles are being stolen for the purposes of joy-riding and that those that have been stolen in recent years have been targeted for the purposes of making money. It may also reflect that improvements in vehicle security have reduced the number of opportunistic car thefts.

Based on the 2011/12 CSEW, 26% of vehicles that were stolen and later returned to the owner had been damaged beyond repair. Twenty-two per cent of vehicles had extensive damage, 26% had moderate or slight damage and 26% had not been damaged. A third of vehicles stolen were more than 10 years old (33%).  Most (57%) were between 1 and 10 years old, and 10% were less than 1 year old. Vehicle Licensing statistics for Great Britain 4 show that 21% of vehicles were more than 10 years old, 73% were 1 to 10 years old and 7% were less than a year old in 2011. That older cars in the more than 10 years old category are more likely to be stolen does support the theory that improved security, which often comes as standard on newer cars, is helping to reduce the number of vehicle thefts. The mean cost of stolen vehicles was £3,777, significantly more than in 2003/04 (£2,215), showing an increase greater than the rate of inflation. The cost of damage caused in theft from vehicle incidents was under £50 for the majority of victims, as was the value of the items stolen.

The bulk of the decline in car thefts since the mid-1990s is attributed to falls in the number of cars stolen by the forcing of door locks (from 65% of vehicles stolen in 1995 to 22% in 2011/12), probably due to the increase in central-locking over this period. Significantly more vehicles were stolen in 2011/12 by the offender using a key (presumably stolen or copied; 46%) compared with 1995 (9%) and 2010/11 (26%; Figure 1.17).

Figure 1.17: Method of entry in incidents of vehicle-related theft, 1995 and 2011/12

Figure 1.17: Method of entry in incidents of vehicle-related theft, 1995 and 2011/12

Notes:

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

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Emotional impact of vehicle-related theft on victim

The CSEW asks victims of crime to say whether they were emotionally affected by the incident. In 80% of vehicle-related thefts the respondent said that they were emotionally affected, although the majority of these said that this was just a little (47%). As might be expected, the proportion very emotionally affected was higher for incidents of theft of a vehicle (27%) than the proportion for incidents of theft from a vehicle (8%).

Likelihood of being a victim of vehicle-related theft

The CSEW shows that the proportion of vehicle-owning households that had been a victim of vehicle-related theft (once or more) in the previous 12 months was 5.5%.

Across the vehicle-owning population there were differences in the risk of experiencing vehicle-related theft:

  • Households where the reference person was aged 16 to 24 were most likely to have been victims of vehicle-related theft (8.7%) compared with other age groups, and this decreased with age, for example only 1.8% of vehicle-owning households where the household reference person was aged 75 or over were victims of vehicle related theft.

  • Households owning three or more cars were most likely to have been victims of vehicle-related theft (8.9%) compared to households owning one (4.2%) or two cars (6.5%).

  • Households living in flats or maisonettes were more likely to be victims of vehicle-related theft (8.0%) than those living in other types of accommodation (for example detached houses; 3.5%).

A full breakdown of the likelihood of vehicle-related theft by personal, household and area characteristics is shown in Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2012 - Annual trend and demographic tables 2011/12, Table D7. 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. Further analysis using logistic regression can be used to control for interrelated characteristics and to identify which characteristics are independently associated with increased risk of victimisation.

Analysis of the likelihood of vehicle-related theft using logistic regression

Logistic regression shows that the age of the household reference person, number of cars owned, and type of accommodation (for example detached house, terraced house, flat) were the characteristics that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of vehicle-theft victimisation. Type of area (urban or rural), output area classification5, household structure, level of physical disorder, type of property tenure and the household reference person’s occupation were also important ( Appendix table 1.03 (829 Kb Excel sheet) ). The model shows that assuming all other characteristics are constant 6:

  • households with a younger household reference person had higher odds of being a victim of vehicle-related theft than households with an older household reference person; for example households with a household reference person aged 16 to 24 had almost 3 times the odds of being a victim of vehicle-related theft compared with households with a household reference person aged 75 or over;

  • households living in flats or maisonettes had almost double the odds of being a victim of vehicle-related theft compared with households living in detached houses, and;

  • households with a household reference person aged 16 to 24 with 3 or more cars living in a flat or maisonette had around 16 times the probability of being a victim of vehicle-related theft compared to a household with a household reference person aged 75 or over, with one car living in a detached house.

For more information on the methodology and interpretation of logistic regression presented here, see Section 8.4 of the User Guide.

Notes for Overview of vehicle crime

  1. Vehicle Licensing Statistics 2011 are based on the total number of licensed vehicles (including both private and commercial vehicles) in England, Scotland and Wales taken from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) database.
  2. 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 2011/12) followed by stereo equipment, including car radios, tapes and CDs (30%).
  3. The CSEW categorises ‘weekend’ as being from 6pm on Saturday to 6am on Monday.
  4. The CSEW and vehicle licensing statistics are not strictly comparable in terms of time periods covered and geographical coverage so these analysis presented should be seen as indicative.
  5. The classification of output areas is used to group together geographic areas according to key characteristics common to the population in that grouping. For more information see Section 7.1 of the User Guide.
  6. See Appendix table 1.03 (829 Kb Excel sheet) . The characteristics that are italicised and have an odds ratio of 1 remain constant.

Overview of robbery

Robbery is an offence in which force or the threat of force is used either during or immediately prior to a theft or attempted theft. Police recorded robbery covers a wide variety of different incidents such as robberies from business properties or street robberies, regardless of the amount of money or property stolen. The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) covers robbery of personal property only.

Robbery accounts for 3% of all police recorded property crime and, similarly, 3% of CSEW property crime. Robberies recorded by the police are concentrated in a small number of metropolitan forces with over half of all offences recorded in London, and a further 19% in the Greater Manchester, West Midlands and West Yorkshire police force areas combined (Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2012 – Police force area tables 2011/12, Table P1). According to police recorded crime data, 91% of police recorded robberies are of personal property; the remainder being robberies of business property.

The small number of robbery victims interviewed in any one year means that CSEW estimates for this crime type are prone to fluctuation. However, the general trend has shown levels increasing throughout the 1980s and 1990s, then falling to 2002/03 after which levels have fluctuated around the same level. The 2011/12 CSEW estimates that there were 254,000 robberies in England and Wales, 25% fewer than 1995. The number of robberies recorded by the police provides a more robust indication of trends than the CSEW and shows that, with the exception of a notable rise in 2005/06 and 2006/07, there was a general downward trend in robberies between 2002/03 and 2009/10 after which levels have remained fairly stable (Figure 1.18). The police recorded 74,690 robbery offences in 2011/12, 32% fewer than in 2002/03.

Figure 1.18: Trends in police recorded robbery, 2002/03 to 2011/12

Figure 1.18: Trends in police recorded robbery, 2002/03 to 2011/12

Notes:

  1. Source: Police recorded crime, Home Office.

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Analysis of data from victims of robbery in the 2011/12 CSEW shows that in incidents where something was stolen, the most common item was a mobile phone (stolen in 56% of robberies). For more information on mobile phone thefts see Chapter 2 – Mobile phone theft). Robberies most commonly occurred in the street (55% of robberies) and in the evening (49%). Ninety per cent of victims of robbery were emotionally affected by the incident, spread fairly evenly between very much (25%), quite a lot (27%) and a little (38%) (data not shown).

Overview of 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, and is planned to be repeated in 2013 and 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 (Home Office Statistics, 2013).

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 1.19). Of the offences measured by the CVS, 91% were property related.

Figure 1.19: Crime experienced by businesses in selected sectors, 2012

Figure 1.19: Crime experienced by businesses in selected sectors, 2012

Notes:

  1. Source: 2012 Commercial Victimisation Survey, Home Office.

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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 11.5 million crimes in 2002 (55% of all crime against the retail sector measured by the 2002 CVS) and 4.1 million crimes in 2012 (53% of all crime against the retail sector measured by the 2012 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. Additional theories applicable to businesses in particular include:

  • Improvements in technology, infrastructure and security technology (such as CCTV) and increased investment by businesses in crime prevention and protection (British retail consortium retail crime survey 2012).

  • Increased usage of electronic security tags, crime deterrent signage and audio and visual CCTV monitoring by retailers (British retail consortium retail crime survey 2012).

  • An increase in the perception that the amount of CCTV has increased, acting as a deterrent, attributed to the rise in the profile of CCTV through television documentaries, and, more recently, social media (Farrell, 2010).

  • The consolidation of the retail sector (that is, an increased number of chain stores) and therefore the consolidation of security technology.

  • Reductions in the real term values of electrical goods, clothing etc.

  • Improved forensic methods.

For more information see the Introduction section and Trends in crime – a short story.

Notes for Overview of property crime against businesses

  1. British Retail Consortium

Overview of other theft

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) ‘other’ theft category includes theft from the person (i.e. pick-pocketing), other theft of personal property and other household thefts. Police recorded other theft includes these offence types, but additionally covers handling stolen goods and thefts from businesses (e.g. shoplifting). See Section 5.2 of the User Guide for more information. Although bicycle theft is included within the other theft category, it is discussed separately in more detail in the Overview of bicycle theft section.

Other theft offences accounted for 46% of all CSEW property crime and 38% of all police recorded property crime in 2011/12. The 2011/12 CSEW estimated that 8% of children aged 10 to 15 were victims of theft of personal property.

Trends in CSEW other theft

The trend for individual categories within CSEW other theft shows levels peaking in the mid-1990s; since then, excluding some fluctuations, levels of other household theft and other theft of personal property fell steadily until 2007/08 (Figure 1.20). CSEW estimates then indicate an upward trend in ‘other household theft’, which has increased by 33% between the 2007/08 and 2011/12 surveys. Around half of other household theft incidents involve theft of garden furniture or household items/furniture from outside the dwelling. Theft from the person offences also appear to show an apparent underlying upward trend since 2009/10, and levels in 2011/12 were 19% higher than in 2009/10. These trends should be seen in the context of levels measured for previous years.

Figure 1.20: Trends in CSEW other theft, 1981 to 2011/12

Figure 1.20: Trends in CSEW other theft, 1981 to 2011/12

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) 1981 to 1999 refers to the calendar year (January to December). b) 2001/02 to 2011/12 refers to the financial year (April to March).

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Evidence from the CSEW data shows that the majority of theft from the person offences involve stealth theft (where no force is used and the victim is unaware of the incident, e.g. pick-pocketing) rather than snatch theft (where there may be an element of force involved but just enough to snatch the property away).

Trends in police recorded other theft

In 2011/12, other theft offences recorded by the police increased by 2% compared with 2010/11, driven by theft of unattended property (recorded as other theft or unauthorised taking; up by 2% from the previous year), theft from the person (up by 8% from the previous year) and shoplifting (up by 1% from the previous year). Although not separately identifiable from other theft offences recorded by the police, metal theft is included in this category and is also likely to have driven these trends.

Theft from the person began increasing in 2009/10 and has continued to do so each year since (Figure 1.21). It is thought that this may be due to people carrying more valuable items on their person than previously, for example more advanced mobile phones and smart phones.

Figure 1.21: Trends in police recorded other theft, 2002/03 to 2011/12

Figure 1.21: Trends in police recorded other theft, 2002/03 to 2011/12

Notes:

  1. Source: Police recorded crime, Home Office.

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Interestingly, theft from the person is the only police recorded property crime that began to increase at the same time as the UK entered the recession in 2008, although it is not possible to say whether there is a causal link. Increases in police recorded theft of unattended property and handling of stolen goods followed in 2010/11. CSEW other household theft began to show signs of an upward trend in 2008/09 with increases in CSEW theft from the person evident since 2009/10.

Nature of other theft

Theft from the person covers theft (including attempts) of items being carried by the victim, but without the use of physical force, or the threat of it. The most common item stolen in theft from the person offences measured by the 2011/12 CSEW was a mobile phone (in 43% of theft from the person incidents; a significantly higher proportion than the 29% of incidents in the 2010/11 survey). 2011/12 was the first year that mobile phones were the most common items stolen in this type of crime; previously the most common item was purses and wallets. This rise in the targeting on mobile phones may help to explain the year-on-year increases seen in police recorded theft from the person. Trends for the most common items stolen in incidents of theft from the person are shown in Figure 1.22. For more details see Chapter 2 – Mobile phone theft.

Figure 1.22: Selected items stolen in incidents of theft from the person, 2003/04 to 2011/12

Figure 1.22: Selected items stolen in incidents of theft from the person, 2003/04 to 2011/12

Notes:

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

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The median cost of items stolen in theft from the person offences was £100 and the median cost of items stolen in other theft of personal property was £70.

The 2011/12 CSEW showed that, 61% of theft from the person incidents occurred during the week (equivalent to 13% per week day) and 39% during the weekend1 (equivalent to 16% per weekend day) meaning that the likelihood of being a victim of theft from the person was slightly higher at the weekend. Sixty per cent of theft from the person incidents happened during the day time. They were most likely to happen inside a shop or supermarket (17%), on the street (17%), in/around public entertainment (16%) or on public transport (14%). See Personal and other theft nature of crime tables for more information.

Other theft of personal property covers theft away from the home where no force is used, there was no direct contact between the offender and victim and the victim was not holding or carrying the items when they were stolen (theft of unattended property). Other theft of personal property incidents most commonly happened in the workplace (23% of incidents). Cash or foreign currency was stolen in a quarter of incidents; other items stolen included mobile telephones (22%), purses and wallets (15%), and clothing (15%).

Analysis of the likelihood of being a victim of theft from the person using logistic regression

The 2011/12 CSEW estimated that 1.3% of adults in England and Wales were victims of theft from the person and 2.1% were victims of other theft of personal property.

Logistic regression shows that age of respondent, output area classification 2 and the number of visits to a nightclub in the past month were the characteristics that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of theft from the person victimisation. Marital status, long-standing illness or disability, area type (rural or urban), ethnic group, the number of visits to a pub in the past month, sex, respondent’s occupation, the number of hours out of home on an average weekday and total household income were also important ( Appendix table 1.04 (829 Kb Excel sheet) ).

The logistic regression model shows that assuming all other characteristics are constant 3:

  • those aged 16 to 24 had around double the odds of being a victim of theft from the person compared with other age groups;

  • those who lived in areas classed as multicultural had the highest odds of being a victim of theft from the person compared with other areas; more than double the odds compared with those living in areas classified as countryside;

  • those visiting nightclubs at least once a month were one-and-a-half times more likely to have been a victim of theft from the person compared with those who never visited nightclubs, and;

  • a 16 to 24 year old living in a ‘multicultural area’ who visits nightclubs at least once a month had almost 5 times the probability of being a victim of theft from the person compared with a 55 to 64 year old living in a ‘city living area’ who had not visited a nightclub in the last month.

For more a more detailed breakdown of these figures see Appendix Table 1.04 (829 Kb Excel sheet) . For more information on the methodology and interpretation of logistic regression presented here, see Section 8.4 of the User Guide.

Notes for Overview of other theft

  1. The CSEW categorises ‘weekend’ as being from 6pm on Saturday to 6am on Monday.
  2. Output area classifications are used to group together geographic areas according to key characteristics common to the population in that grouping. Further details can be found in Chapter 7 of the User Guide.
  3. See Appendix table 1.04 (829 Kb Excel sheet) . The characteristics that are italicised and have an odds ratio of 1 remain constant.

Overview of bicycle theft

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) covers thefts of bicycles belonging to the respondent or any other member of the household. Police recorded crime also includes offences where a pedal cycle is stolen or taken without authorisation. This category includes incidents of bicycle theft where the theft of the bicycle is the main crime. It does not include every incident, as some bicycles may be stolen during the course of another offence (for example burglary, theft from a dwelling or theft from a vehicle) and are therefore classified as such by the police and CSEW.

The 2011/12 CSEW estimated that almost half (47%) of households in England and Wales had owned a bicycle in the previous 12 months. The proportion of households owning a bicycle has remained similar since the survey began in 1981; between 42% and 47% of households (data not shown). Of the households who owned a bicycle, 3.4% had been a victim of bicycle theft according to the 2011/12 CSEW. This accounts for 6% of all CSEW property crime and an estimated 448,000 offences. Estimates from the CSEW show that 44% of bicycle thefts were reported to the police in 2011/12. The police recorded 115,905 bicycle thefts in 2011/12, which accounts for 4% of all police recorded property crime.

Bicycles or bicycle parts were the most common item stolen in theft incidents experienced by children aged 10 to 15 (22% of incidents; see Children aged 10 to 15 nature of crime tables). In the 2011/12 CSEW, an estimated 75,000 children were victims of bicycle theft, equivalent to 1.5% of the 10 to 15 year old population (see Crime experienced by children aged 10 to 15 in Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2012 for more information).

Trends in bicycle theft

Long-term trends in CSEW bicycle theft show that levels peaked in 1995 and then fell considerably until 2002/03. This part of the trend is similar to that seen for vehicle-related theft, after which the two diverge. Since 2002/03, where vehicle-related theft continued to decrease bicycle theft began to increase until 2006/07, after which levels have fluctuated year to year (Figure 1.15). This suggests that the continued fall (post 2000) in vehicle-related theft and burglary may be explained by improvements in security (that are not so applicable to bicycle theft), but that the initial fall that is seen across many types of crime in the mid-1990s is likely to have been driven by additional factors.

Figure 1.23: Trends in bicycle theft incidents, 1981 to 2011/12

Figure 1.23: Trends in bicycle theft incidents, 1981 to 2011/12

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. 1981 to 1999 refers to the calendar year (January to December). b. 2001/02 to 2011/12 refers to the financial year (April to March).

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Nature of bicycle theft incidents

The 2011/12 CSEW showed that 71% of bicycle thefts occurred during the week (equivalent to 16% per week day) and 29% during the weekend1 (equivalent to 12% per weekend day) meaning that the likelihood of being a victim of bicycle theft was higher during the week. Fifty-eight per cent of bicycles were taken in the evening or night. Over half the bicycles were taken from areas described as ‘semi-private’ (which includes outside areas on the household premises including garages and car parks not connected to the home; 57%) and 18% were stolen from the street. The cost of bicycles stolen was most commonly in the range of £100 - £199. The mean cost was significantly higher in 2011/12 compared with 2003/04 (£294 in 2011/12 compared with £229 in 2003/04), probably reflecting the increase in the cost of bicycles over time. See Bicycle theft nature of crime tables for more information.

Emotional impact and perceived seriousness of bicycle theft

The CSEW asks victims of crime to say whether they were emotionally affected by the incident. In three-quarters of bicycle theft incidents the respondent said that they were emotionally affected, although the majority of those (41%) said that this was just a little. The most common type of emotional reaction experienced by victims of bicycle theft was annoyance (48%), followed by anger (45%). In all previous years that this question has been asked, anger was the most common response experienced.

The CSEW asks victims of crime to say how serious they thought the incident was on a scale of 1 to 20 (with 20 being the most serious). The majority (76%) placed bicycle theft in the least serious category of 1 to 6. Victims perceiving the theft to be within the most serious category (a rating of between 14 and 20) have fallen from 6% in 2003/04 to 3% in 2011/12. The mean seriousness score has also decreased between these periods; from 6 in 2003/04 to 5 in 2011/12.

Bicycle security

The 2011/12 CSEW estimated that around a third (34%) of bicycles stolen in the previous year were locked with a chain, cable or shackle at the time. This proportion has increased from 28% in 2005/06 when the question was first introduced to the CSEW. Of those bicycles that weren’t locked, 16% said that it was because there was no need as it was in a locked building. The most common reason given for the bicycle not having been locked was that the owner had never thought about it or hadn’t got round to it (23%). These findings suggest that bicycles should always be locked to prevent them from being stolen, even if stored within a locked building, but that locking a bicycle is less of a deterrent to thieves than it was 6 years ago. CSEW data also suggests that only a small proportion of bicycles that were stolen were not locked because there was nowhere to lock them up (1%).

Notes for Overview of bicycle theft

  1. The CSEW categorises ‘weekend’ as being from 6pm on Saturday to 6am on Monday.

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.

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