A burglary occurs every 40 seconds in the United Kingdom, according to the independent charity Crimestoppers, making it one of the country’s most commonly committed criminal acts. For victims, it is a crime which can have a devastating impact, leading to emotional distress and the loss of irreplaceable or highly valuable possessions.
However, there are a number of ways to protect your home from criminals and research shows that one of the most effective methods is the presence of a simple security system, such as an alarm or CCTV camera. In fact, installing such a system can reduce the chances of burglary by up to 90 percent.
A crime survey for England and Wales, carried out on behalf of the Office for National Statistics, found that six percent of households with ‘no or less than basic home security’ were victims of burglary over the course of a given 12 month period. By comparison, just one percent of homes with basic or advanced security were burgled.
In simple terms, these figures mean that the implementation of at least a basic security system makes a house six times less likely to be burgled, and this is backed up by further evidence from the Home Office, which states that homes with CCTV are as much as 90 percent less likely to be burgled.
Additionally, analysis of the 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales by the Office for National Statistics concluded that property crime had fallen by 71 percent from its peak during the mid 1990s. The report specifically cited improved security measures and increased usage as a major contributing factor to this decline.
“The level of home security is the key factor in determining the likelihood of burglary victimisation,” it concluded.
Risk vs. Reward
The main reason for this statistical decrease in burglaries is that visible security systems act as a psychological and practical deterrent. Most burglars are opportunistic in their approach, using risk vs. reward style reasoning when selecting a target, and the presence of security systems only emphasises the risk involved.
According to a 2013 study funded by the Alarm Industry Research and Education Foundation, the majority of burglars consider the presence of cameras or other surveillance equipment when selecting a target. Moreover, 60 percent admitted that the presence of an alarm would lead them to choose an alternative property.
The study, which was carried out on more than 400 convicted male and female burglars, also found that alarms can protect homes even after they have been targeted. Indeed, 40 percent of the burglars admitted they would halt their attempt in progress if they discovered an alarm and 80 percent stated that they would never attempt to disable one.
Despite the strong statistical and anecdotal evidence to suggest that security systems are a useful deterrent, many people still do not have one fitted at their home. A recent YouGov / Vanderbilt European security barometer report, for example, found that only 28 percent of UK households have an intruder alarm system in place.
A separate poll conducted by Halifax discovered that of the households that do have an alarm system, 34 percent say that they rarely activate it. Meanwhile, the number of British homes with CCTV or alternative surveillance systems in place is even lower than with alarms, currently standing at just seven percent.
All of this suggests that security systems are an under-utilised but effective measure, with the potential to deter criminals, stop crimes in progress and offer valuable protection for home owners.