Relaxed restrictions lead to break-in spike… but third of thefts happen when people are at home

Burglaries are on the rise as people take advantage of restrictions lifting and spend more time away from their homes, new research has revealed.

Thefts increased by 6.2 per cent increase between April and June this year compared to the previous three months, according to analysis of police data by Churchill Home Insurance.

This equates to 3,600 more burglaries between April and June than there were between January and March. The value of the property stolen has been estimated at more than £169million.

With millions now able to socialise and travel again following the lifting of lockdown restrictions, the research also showed a significant number of people were concerned by the prospect of being burgled while they were away from home. 

Burglaries are on the rise as more and more people are leaving their homes, new data shows

Churchill analysed burglaries reported to police forces across England and Wales, and also conducted research with 2,007 UK adults in July 2021.

It found that 42 per cent of those looking to go on holiday this summer were concerned about the prospect of their home being burgled, compared to 37 per cent of those planning to go out more locally.

Even more worried were those people planning on returning to the workplace. Of those heading out to work, 69 per cent said they were worried about being burgled, with 25 per cent ‘extremely concerned’.

These concerns are not unfounded, as 30 per cent of people who have been burgled in the past five years said happened when they were out during the day. 

Regionally, London is the most affected by burglaries, with 34 per cent of residents having had a break-in in the past five years.

It was significantly ahead of the next most at-risk regions. In the East Midlands 18 per cent of households had experienced a theft from their home, whilst 17 per cent in the South West and 13 per cent in the West Midlands had also been burgled.

Social habits have been heavily impacted by Covid-19, with 39 per cent of people saying they spent more time at home than normal during the pandemic, and 31 per cent saying they didn’t go on holiday for more than a few nights at a time.

But with restrictions easing further, 51 per cent admitted they were worried about the prospect of criminals seeking out opportunities as people once again leave their homes.

42% of those looking to go on holiday this summer are worried about their home being burgled

42% of those looking to go on holiday this summer are worried about their home being burgled

However, alarmingly, 34 per cent of burglaries happen when the resident is in the property. 

Of those, Churchill’s research found that 22 per cent happened during the night, and 12 per cent during the day when someone was at home.

Separate research by found that 29 per cent of Britons have been burgled in their lifetimes, with 53 per cent of those reported while homeowners were out.  

Steven Williams, head of Churchill home insurance, said: ‘With lockdown restrictions easing it is unsurprising that people are taking advantage and leaving their homes more.

‘Our habits have changed drastically over the past 18 months and we may have become complacent about home security as we have spent so much time there.

‘As people prepare to go on holiday and return to the office, we are encouraging them to take the time to look at what security measures they have in place and check simple things – such as doors and windows are locked – before leaving. 

‘It is often the simple measures that are the most effective.’

London is the most affected with 34% of residents having been burgled in the past five years

London is the most affected with 34% of residents having been burgled in the past five years

How to make your home safe as possible  

• Do the basics well: It may sound simple, but an unlocked door or open window can be the only invitation a burglar needs to break into a home. Always make sure you lock all doors and windows at night or before going out, and ensure that all easily accessible, high-value items such as wallets, phones and laptops are kept out of sight.

• Make life hard for burglars: As well as installing security measures like cameras and alarms, consider whether you have items lying around that may be useful for breaking and entering, such as ladders or hammers. Large hedges, fences or trees can also give burglars the cover they need to carry out their actions undetected.

• Take steps when you go away: Before you go on holiday, cancel any papers or milk you might have delivered and install timers which switch lights or radios on automatically. This will make it harder for potential burglars to tell that a house is unoccupied.

• Look out for your neighbours: Neighbourhood Watch schemes operate around the UK and anyone can get involved. They are set up to allow local people to help the police cut crime and are led by volunteer co-ordinators who get everyone together to discuss how they can make their area a safer place to live.

• Prepare for the worst, hope for the best: Sometimes being the victim of a burglary can be attributed to nothing but bad luck. If the worst does happen, knowing that you have an up-to-date, comprehensive home insurance policy that will replace any items stolen or damaged in a burglary can help put your mind at rest.