At this time of year, many homeowners in the UK decide to step up their home security, spurred on by darker nights and houses full of expensive gifts wrapped up for Christmas.
And it is precisely for these reasons that burglary activity in the UK generally sees a spike around this time.
According to a new report from Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch, one in three UK adults have been a victim of neighbourhood crime, with 41% having had their homes broken into. However, 20% of victims chose not to contact the police.
When asked why this was, 59% said they weren’t convinced that the police would do anything about it and a further 16% didn’t trust that the police would be able to help them. Just 58% of victims who reported the crime said they were visited by the police and 31% were visited within the hour of the crime being reported.
Of those who didn’t receive a police visit, 58% of victims were given a crime reference number, whilst 13% received a phone call.
The research highlights a potential lack of understanding among many UK adults when it comes to police response times. All calls made to the police are prioritised based on their severity and whilst some will receive an immediate response, others may not require a police visit until hours later if at all.
Despite this, when asked how the absence of police at the scene of a neighbourhood crime made victims feel, 59% said they felt as though they weren’t important. 41% felt angry, whilst 26% were upset.
As the nights draw in and we enter the winter months, Co-op Insurance is warning people to ensure they have robust security measures in place to keep their homes safe. Business data from the insurer reveals that the number of theft claims increase by 35% in the months following the clocks going back, with November being the month when most burglaries take place.
Throughout the year, light fingered thieves are most likely to make their move on a Friday and, with November being the most common month for home break ins, Fridays in November prove to be a particularly popular time for burglars to strike.
Co-op’s claims data also reveals that people living in London are the most likely to be a victim of home contents theft with Carlisle and Manchester also being crime hotspots.
Of the 41% of UK adults who have been a victim of burglary, 28% said it happened during the night. 24% were targeted in the afternoon, 20% in the evening, whilst just 6% were burgled in the morning. 29% of victims were at home when the burglary took place, with 22% being asleep. At work, on holiday or out for dinner were also among the common places people were when their property was broken into.
When it comes to how burglars are breaking and entering, 33% broke down a door, 23% smashed a window and 10% gained access via a door or window which was accidentally left open.
Top tips to protect homes from burglary:
1: Leave a light on when out or invest in a light timer.
2: Install exterior security lights ath the front and back of the property
3: If possible, invest in a CCTV system
4: Don't post locations on social media sites
5: Ensure doors and windows are locked
6: Set burglar alarms
7: Ensure sheds/outbuildings are secured
8: Don't leave valuables on display
9: Never leave car keys within easy reach of a letterbox
10: Don't leave ladders outside your home
Whilst clearly there is a financial impact on victims of neighbourhood crime, Co-op’s research also shows the lasting emotional impact on those targeted.
Of those people who have had their properties broken into, 80% say the crime has impacted their day-to-day life. 23% said they feel scared that it will happen again, whilst 16% say they still feel traumatised from the incident. As a result, one in ten have now moved to a new property.
Colin Butler, Head Insurance at Co-op Insurance said: “Unfortunately, year on year, our claims data shows that darker nights lead to more burglaries. As the nights draw in, we’re urging people to be vigilant when it comes to their personal safety, as well as the safety of their home.
Our report unlocks the real issues that people are facing in their neighbourhoods, as well as the long-lasting impact this type of crime can have on victims.Our continuing partnership with Neighbourhood Watch has never been more important as we continue to encourage neighbours to look out for one another.”
John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch, commented: “It’s worrying that so many people have been a victim of neighbourhood crime. At Neighbourhood Watch, we believe that building strong communities where neighbours look out for each other is key to crime prevention. Being neighbourly and getting involved in your community brings long lasting rewards such as reducing fear of crime and making people proud of where they live.”