Bonfire Night is busiest time of year for burglars

Article date: 3 November 2003

Homeowners are being urged to lock up their homes as well astheir pets this Guy Fawkes’ Night – it’s theworst day of the year for household theft according to a new reportout today.

The inaugural Norwich Union Insurance Index* reveals thatthe firm receives 25% more claims for theft from the home onNovember 5 than on an average day of the year.

And claims for household fires are also up that day, with thecompany receiving 50% more claims than usual due tofirework-related incidents.

Simon Machell, customer services director at Norwich Union,said: "November 5 is pennies from heaven for burglars. Peopledon’t tend to think about home security while they’reenjoying themselves on Bonfire Night.

"But it’s a perfect opportunity for burglars who takeadvantage of the dark, the distraction and the noise of thefireworks to take people’s valuables - often walking inthrough the front door because people haven’t thought to lockit while they’re busy with bonfires, barbecues andfireworks.

"We’d urge anyone planning to celebrate November 5 to makesure they’ve secured their home before they step outside towatch the fun."

Devised from an in-depth analysis of claims made since 2000, theindex, which this time focuses on household theft, alsoreveals:

  • While Guy Fawkes’ Night is the worst day of the year forhousehold theft, New Year’s Eve is the second most risky dayfor homeowners
  • Christmas Day is the quietest day of the year in terms ofclaims – on December 25 Norwich Union receives less thanhalf the amount they usually do on a normal day
  • But it’s the worst day of the year when it comes tohousehold fires – Norwich Union receives more than twice asmany claims on Christmas Day compared to an average day
  • Fridays and Saturdays are the worst days for break-ins –and fewer claims are made on Sundays than any other day of theweek
  • Household thefts have reduced by 5% from quarter two 2000 toquarter two 2003
  • Norwich Union receives one household theft claim for every 60household policies each year

The Index also features research amongst more than 500households about their experiences and opinions about residentialcrime. It reports that almost a quarter of people in the UK havebeen victims of a burglary, and nearly a third of these have beenburgled more than once.

But while almost four in 10 homes have an alarm system, nearly athird of those questioned admit that they don’t alwaysactivate their alarm when they leave the house.

And despite the fact that nearly half of all break-ins occurthrough forced entry of the front door, 45% keep their back orfront door unlocked overnight.

Chris Dyer, programme manager with leading crime reductioncharity Crime Concern said: "Many victims of burglary talk of theworry, anxiety and sleeplessness that comes from the invasion oftheir home. Burglary isn’t just about losing your belongings,but victims also lose their peace of mind. Often, domesticburglaries are committed by opportunists, who choose a house thatlooks unoccupied, has little or no obvious security devices andwhere they think they won’t be seen.

"There are things which can be done to help build a sense ofcommunity where people are concerned for their neighbours and theirneighbourhood. This can help to not only reduce burglaries, bothalso to combat fear of crime."

Norwich Union and Crime Concern have developed some valuabletips for improving home security – both this Bonfire Nightand year-round:

  • Ensure the front door and all windows are locked, even ifyou’re enjoying Bonfire Night at home in the backgarden
  • Leave a couple of lights on in the house if you’replanning on going to a nearby fireworks’ display and if youhave a house alarm, make sure you set it when you leave thehouse
  • Don’t leave keys in places that are easy to reach forburglars, especially in or near the front or back door
  • If you’re having a fireworks party with a group ofneighbours, make sure all houses have been secured and do a coupleof checks around your properties during the evening.


* The Norwich Union Insurance Index is the first relating to thegeneral insurance industry. To be released twice yearly, it isdesigned to provide a barometer of insurance claims based on claimsdata. Each time we will be supplementing the data withconsumer’s views on issues relating to the home.

Media contacts:
Charlotte Speedy or Matt Buchanan at QBO Bell Pottinger on 020 78612424

Louise Zucchi at Norwich Union on 01603 684 506 or 07860 203466

Notes to editors:

  • Mediareport available (either hard copy or PDF) detailingfull-findings of Norwich Union Insurance Index and consumerresearch.
  • Brand & Issues Research was commissioned by Norwich Union tointerview 520 people across the UK regarding their experiencesand views on home security and crime. The research was conductedin September 2003.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer with a marketshare of around 16% and is more than 1.5 times the size of itsnearest rival. It is also the largest personal lines insurer.
  • It has a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses. It insures:
    - one in five households 
    - one in five motor vehicles 
    - more than 700,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners suchas banks and building societies and Norwich Union Direct.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available on the Aviva internet press centre
  • An ISDN facility is available for studio quality broadcast. Callthe press office on 08703 66 68 68.

For all life & pensions media enquiries call 08703 66 6873
For all other media enquiries call 08703 66 68 68

Back to top