With €86m worth of goods stolen from Irish homes, according to the 2007 PhoneWatch Burglary Report groundbreaking UK research can now predict where burglary crimes will occur (Crime Mapping). If you have been burgled you are quite likely to be targeted again within a short period of time - Repeat Victimisation is now an established burglary phenomenon.
According to the PhoneWatch Burglary Report, February is the most targeted month for burglaries in Ireland - with 10.5% occurring during this shortest of months, some 36% above the average for the year. To raise awareness of how to be more security conscious particularly during the most targeted month of the year, the report is working with Professor Ken Pease OBE - a highly respected forensic psychologist whose published work over the last twenty years has focused on linking research findings to practical crime reduction.
If you have been burgled you are quite likely to be targeted again within a short period of time. In his drive to identify avenues that allow police forces to anticipate and prevent crimes, Professor Ken Pease has determined a very real burglary phenomenon - ‘Repeat Victimisation’
. Essentially, if your home has suffered a burglary you are highly likely to be targeted again and usually within a short space of time. Being burgled twice makes a third more likely, and so on. Research that investigates burglar behaviour has revealed that “76% said they had gone back to a number of houses…., they were familiar with the features of the house. The reasons for going back for goods were things they left behind….replaced goods….and unhidden cash*”. Fundamentally, once a burglar has been inside a house it becomes easier to burgle because he is familiar with the layout and can get out much quicker.
Professor Pease also found that repeated crimes were disproportionately the work of prolific offenders – indicating that a focus on repeat victimisation could provide a good way of targeting and detecting prolific offenders.
Professor Pease believes that that the reason the ‘science’ of repeat victimisation has not been adopted nationwide is due to the nature of police recording systems, the fragmentation of police work, the incidence of non-reporting and the fact that the arithmetic is not straight forward.
Harnessing Repeat Victimisation to Deliver a Means of Predicting Burglary.
Professor Pease has now taken this proven burglary phenomenon to the next level of practical crime reduction through his collaboration with the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science - based at University College London and the first Institute in the world devoted to Crime Science. Working with Dr. Shane Johnson and Dr. Kate Bowers, the team sought to deliver a means of ‘perfect prediction’ of where crimes will occur in order to assist in their prevention or detection.
“A burglar walking down a street where he has never burgled before sees two types of house – those presumed suitable and those presumed unsuitable (the latter identified by a dint of alarm, presence of barking dog and so on). He burgles one of the houses and is successful. Next time he walks down the street, he sees three types of house – the presumed unsuitable, the presumed suitable and the known suitable. It would involve the least effort to burgle the house know to be suitable.” **
Their studies characterised burglar behaviour as ‘Optimal foraging’ – maximising benefit, minimising risk and keeping search time to a minimum. In an Irish context, the PhoneWatch Burglary Report has found that detached (31.3%) and semi-detached homes (27.3%) are the most vulnerable residences in Ireland, with the primary method of entry being at the back of the home via the rear door (21.3%).
It also harnessed the fundamental outcomes discovered by Professor Pease’s work in the repeat victimisation phenomenon in burglary i.e.
If you have been burgled before you are more likely to be burgled again
Repeats often occur within a short timeframe, offering a time-limited opportunity for police intervention
Burglaries account for the majority of crime in hot-spots, i.e. highly targeted crime areas
Research Proves Homes Close to a Burgled House Have Elevated Risk of Being Burgled
Offenders target those properties with which they are most familiar and which combine good rewards with acceptable risks. Extending the strategy would be to target not only those previously burgled and know to be suitable but also those houses most similar to them – in terms of likely risks, rewards and effort involved.
The collaborative research found that households close to a burglary have an increased likelihood of suffering the same offence. The increased risk declines with distance from the initial target and with time – properties within 400m of a burgled home are at elevated risk for up to one month.
The basis of the research took:
Six years of disaggregated burglary data for the Merseyside area (UK)
Software to examine patterns of streets and space
On each street, the methodology compared the distance between all burglaries in space and time
Aggregated the pattern over all streets
This enabled the team to identify clusters of crime activity that work in the same way as a communicable disease – infectious - particularly in areas with uniform housing types and layout. The focus was to tailor the research outcomes in an operational context so it could be used as part of everyday policing, delivering a perfect predictor for preventing burglary. A pilot study in Derbyshire established the operational potential of the ProMap software.
Commenting on the crime reduction potential of the research, Professor Pease said: “My primary focus is to not just deliver research that adds insight into crime phenomena but that delivers tangible results in the collaborative desire to reduce crime. Though our research is UK based, the same patterns have been shown to apply in all four other countries where research has been carried out. I believe it is just as relevant to the Irish experience, where burglary is a nationwide crime phenomenon.
Nick Quigley, chief executive of PhoneWatch added: In the seven years that we have presented the PhoneWatch Burglary Report one facet remains constant – burglary as a crime in Ireland is not going away. This year, 86m euros were taken from Irish homes, with burglaries increasing 17% nationwide. The one thing that every householder can do today is make small changes, whether it is introducing window locks or ensuring their backdoor is always locked, even when in the house. Given Professor Pease’s research findings this could be the difference between being deemed a target with ‘maximum return for minimum effort’ or ‘minimum return with maximum effort’. In my work in this area I know which category I’d prefer my home to be viewed in.
The PhoneWatch Burglary Report - which has been published annually for the last seven years - has been launched to raise overall awareness of the need for increased household security in Ireland.
The PhoneWatch Burglary Report was conducted by the OSG Group, the countries leading loss adjustor, based on a sample of more than 15,505 household insurance claims in the twelve months between 1st June 2006 and 1st June 2007.
Notes to Editor
Other key findings from the 2007Burglary Report include:
· The 2007 PhoneWatch Burglary Report revealed a 17% increase in burglaries nationwide – June 2006 and June 2007
· The winter months remain the most active for burglars, the report indicates that February was the most targeted month (10.5%) compared with October last year
· Kildare is the most burgled county outside of Dublin, accounting for 6.4% of all burglaries outside the Dublin area
· 86m euros worth of goods was stolen from homes nationwide – representing a 25% increase on last year’s figures
The most popular day of the week for burglaries is Friday (15.8%) with Sunday being the least popular day (12.9%);
The quietest time of the day for burglaries is between 4am and 8am
Apartments are the property types least likely to be burgled
Other published burglary statistics:
* The Crime and Victimisation, Quarterly National Household Survey 2006 found that for every 1,000 households in the state, 32 were affected by burglary in 2006. In over half these burglaries someone was present at the time of the incident. In approximately 3 in 10 occurrences, such a burglary was not reported to the Gardai. Of the 48,700 households burgled in 2006, about 15% were burgled more than once.
*CSO Headline Crime statistics indicate that 22,594 burglaries were reported during the period June 2006 and June 2007. This represents a 13% decrease on the 2005/2006 figures for the same period.
*The most recently published Garda Annual Report (2006) states that 24,245 residential burglaries took place in Ireland between 1st January 2006 – 31st December 2006.
* Research conducted by Ericsson (1995) with 21 convicted multiple burglars at a category C prison in East Anglia. Similar comments come from over one hundred and fifty other career burglars interviewed in England and Scotland
** Research conducted by Farrell (1995)