Statistics are strange things.
Take the most recent figures from the National Office of Statistics.
These suggest crimes against properties are in sharp decline.
Indeed, from its peak in 1993, when 1.7 million domestic burglaries were recorded in the UK, the 649,000 reported in 2012-13 represents quite a fall.
In 1995, six in 100 households were burgled, whereas in 2012-13 it was down to two.
This is good news and a feat achieved, in no small part, as a result of the superior home security products that are available these days. These figures don’t tell the full story, however.
You see, in a different survey, this one by the Zurich Insurance Group, a different set of figures shows that, over the last three years, the average cost of a domestic burglary has risen by 40%. This is the confusing thing about statistics. It all depends on how the findings are presented.
One report offers good news, the other bad. The truth, in our opinion, is somewhere in the middle: that burglaries are falling, but our homes are still at risk; that we’re making great strides, but still have a long way to go; that our properties are more secure than ever, but this is no time to be complacent. If our focus slips, those figures will rise again.
There are fewer burglaries, but the items being stolen are more valuable. That’s because our homes contain more high-cost goods, and such things (mobile phones, iPads etc) tend to be portable. In this respect, we’re making life easier for intruders.
In a film made for Essex Police, one convicted burglar explained his methods. These, in the main, involved trying doors until he discovered one that wasn’t locked. The criminal in question estimates that, on an average street, he’d check 20 houses and find â€˜three or four’ unsecured. Once inside, he’d steal â€˜anything small, quick, put in your pocket, and get gon’. Some houses had alarms, but experience taught him these weren’t always set. â€˜It’s pointless having it if you’re not going to turn it on,’ he says. We couldn’t agree more.
These are the people we’re up against. The people who know that, although statistics show that 74% of us are worried about being burgled, many don’t take adequate precautions; that 45% of people have spent nothing on making their homes more secure in the last 12 months; that 40% of people think leaving a light on when going out is all that’s required to keep burglars at bay.
We put common sense over statistics because we know that, whatever the figures tell us, there are always people looking to exploit the vulnerable but that if we put the appropriate measures in place, we stand a better chance of not becoming a victim.
Take our advice and do the same. Don’t become a statistic.
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