Insurer fears burglary rates could rise by 50%

Article date: 23 April 2009

  • But it isn't inevitable if you protect your property

The UK's biggest insurer believes we could see a 50% increase in household burglaries by the end of 2009 as the recession takes hold and unemployment figures soar.

Last year there were over 280,000 burglaries according to the Home Office* - so we could see an increase of more than 140,000 burglaries nationally by December. Norwich Union estimates this means UK homeowners face losing over £421 million of stolen belongings.**

But the insurer believes that by taking simple security measures homeowners can reduce their risk and prevent the prediction from becoming a reality.

Simon Warsop, director of home pricing, at Norwich Union, soon to be Aviva said: "History shows that when unemployment rises we also see an increase in crime and unfortunately the latest Home Office figures obviously show an upward trend in domestic burglary.

"If this recession follows the pattern of previous recessions we would expect to see burglary rise by around a half by the end of the year.

"Although theft represents a small percentage of home insurance claims we are still concerned by the effect this could have on homeowners.

"However we agree with the Government that these figures don't have to be inevitable: ensuring windows and doors are properly locked, sheds are secured and properties kept in good order can all deter the opportunist burglars who are looking to make a profit from your home."

Norwich Union has been working with the Home Office on their campaign to highlight the importance of home security.

In a bid to help advise home owners on the risks and weak spots around their home,

it has analysed claims data*** to discover what the prime targets are for thieves.

Top things stolen:

  • Multimedia - games, consoles and DVDs make up 62% of all belongings stolen in burglaries
  • Cameras - 11%
  • Computers  - 9%
  • Mobile Phones  - 5%
  • MP3 Players/IPods - 4%

Stolen jewellery:

Rings represent 33% of jewellery stolen with three-stone rings being the most popular. Watches are the second most targeted item (25%) followed by earrings (22%) and necklaces (17%).

Getting in!

  • 75% of burglaries also involve damage to your property, caused by the burglar getting in and out.
  • Jemmying open doors and windows with crow bars is still the most popular form of break-in.
  • Surprisingly burglars still target the front and then back doors first. Homeowners make it easy by either leaving them unlocked or not properly secured!
  • Rear ground floor windows, patio and French doors and garage doors are also common targets.

Repeat victimisation

Sadly it is quite common for victims of burglary to be targeted again - homes are full of newly replaced belongings and often security hasn't been improved at the property.

  • Nearly 3% of Norwich Union customers who have been burgled since 2006 have been targeted again.
  • The average time between each burglary was around 8 months
  • A handful of customers were burgled three times with the third claim occurring 3 months after the second crime.

Tips to protect your home:

  • It might seem basic, but make sure you lock your doors and windows properly when you're not home. If you have special window locks or padlocks on sheds or garages, use them!
  • Don't leave valuable items on display - thieves are like magpies and will notice that sparkly ring on your window sill.
  • Don't leave tell tale clues that you might not be home, like a build up of milk bottles, parcels or post. If you're going away, cancel deliveries and ask a neighbour to do a quick check of your home every couple of days and install timers to switch lights or radios on and off automatically if you're not home.
  • Stay tidy - faulty fence work, loose gates, rubbish in the front garden, all give the impression that your home could be an easy target. A well cared for property and garden provides another psychological barrier to the burglar, so trim hedges, repair woodwork and brickwork - remember to put away anything that can be used to gain entry including tools, ladders and DIY debris.
  • Of course insurance is there if the worst happens - standard home insurance policies do cover you for burglary. Buildings insurance will cover any damage to your property; contents insurance will cover stolen or damaged belongings.


Notes to editors

*Between July 2007 to June 2008 there were 280,704 burglaries in England and Wales - Home Office statistics. An increase of 50% this year equates to an extra 140,352 burglaries - 421,056.

**The average cost of a theft claim according to Norwich Union claims data is £1000 equating to a total of £421million

*** Norwich Union claims data 2008

For further information, please contact:
Rebecca Homes - Norwich Union Press Office 01603 685177/07800 690731
Deborah Hitchcock 0207 413 3241
Pippa Mass 0207 413 3166

  • Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.
  • It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest Financial Adviser (FA) providers.  FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.
  • In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva. Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 28 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.
  • Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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