Aviva's Burglary report

Almost two in three burglaries happen while people are at home

Aviva research finds that burglars can strike anytime, even if the residents are at home. Furthermore, official statistics show burglaries are actually more likely to occur while people are at their properties rather than away. According to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data for April 2019 to March 2020 1, someone was at home in nearly two thirds (64%) of burglary incidents, and more than a third (37%) of residents were aware of the burglary incident taking place.

This graph shows the percentages of people who were home during a burglary versus those who were both at home and aware of the burglary taking place, for all burglary incidents, burglaries with entry, and attempted burglaries. Read the long data description.

ons data
ONS data shows that most people are home during burglaries, and many are aware

Government statistics reveal that more than a half (55%) of burglary incidents occurred when it was dark but more than one in four burglaries with an entry and attempted burglaries happened during daylight. ONS data also shows that burglars are more likely to strike during the week than during the weekend, with seven out of 10 incidents being reported Monday-Friday. 

Alongside this, Aviva data suggests the risk of burglary increases during October and November. Our claims data from the last two years reveals a 15% increase in home theft claims during October and November, compared to the monthly average during 2018-2019 2.

What home security measures do people take?

Aviva research reveals a fifth of UK householders experienced break-ins, with another 15% of respondents surveyed experiencing an attempted break in or burglary 3.

This means someone burgled, broke into, or attempted to break into 9.73 million UK households 4. Yet over a third of householders currently don’t take any security measures. However, almost three in 10 (28%) of respondents surveyed said they have a burglar alarm and almost a quarter (24%) have a dog as a home security measure. Just over one in six (17%) of respondents surveyed have video or camera security outside as a home security measure.

The chart below illustrates the most popular home security measures that our survey respondents take. Read the long data description.

home security measures
Our home security survey asked respondents what home security measures, if any, they currently take

Finding the weakest security point

The ONS Nature of Crime report also reveals that in the year to March 2020, 76% of domestic burglars in England and Wales accessed the property through a door, and in 24% of cases where entry was gained, the door was unlocked. In contrast, the door was unlocked in just 2% of attempted burglaries. 

Aviva research finds people who have experienced a burglary first-hand are less likely to lock their doors when at home than those who haven’t. One in five people who haven’t been burgled don’t lock their doors while at home, yet 37% of people who have been burgled are willing to take the risk, alongside 32% who have experienced an attempted burglary.

When it comes to windows, this laid-back approach to security is echoed by nearly half of the population. ONS figures show, in the year to March 2020, one in five residential burglaries were accessed through windows. But the Aviva home security study finds 45% of UK residents leave windows unlocked in unoccupied rooms when they are at home.

Our survey asked respondents what security measures, if any, they take when at home

Experienced burglary or break-in (attempted or actual) at home?
  Yes – someone has tried to break into or burgle my home Yes – someone has broken into or burgled my home No – I’ve never experienced any break-in or burglary or attempt at it on my home Prefer not to say
Keep the door locked 62.38% 67.56% 80.03% 46.67%
Keep the windows locked if no one is in the room 50.83% 56.83% 55.97% 48.89%
Shut curtains or blinds 48.18% 51.95% 58.46% 44.44%
Keep the sheds and garages locked 50.83% 54.15% 55.57% 42.22%
Leave lights on or set a timer when it's dark 42.24% 37.32% 31.60% 32.22%
Check video footage (such as via an app) on a regular basis 32.01% 18.54% 12.91% 20.00
I don't take any security measures when i'm home 2.97% 4.39% 9.78% 31.11%
Other 0.66% 1.22% 1.12% 0.00%

“We tend to imagine that burglaries happen when everyone is out, but the unfortunate reality is they can take place at any time, whether we’re home or not,” says Sarah Applegate, Insight and Strategy Lead, Global General Insurance at Aviva. “Most burglaries are opportunistic, so if a door or window is left unlocked, someone can be in and out of a house in just a few seconds. And if we’re at home but on another floor or in another room, we may not even be aware of an intruder, until it’s too late.”

Would people report an unsuccessful break-in?

Aviva’s study into people’s responses to burglaries and attempted break-ins found just 63% would notify the police immediately if they or their alarm system were to detect someone unsuccessfully trying to enter their property. Another 10% would inform the police later at a convenient time.

Figures are even lower when it comes to seeing people acting suspiciously in their neighbourhood — for example, people hanging around, taking pictures of houses, or marking houses with chalk. 

The chart below illustrates the most common actions that our survey respondents would take if they identify suspicious behaviour in their neighbourhood. The most common, at over 54%, is to notify the police, but almost as many would notify their neighbours. Read the long data description.

suspicious behaviour
We asked survey respondents what they would do if they saw someone acting suspiciously in their neighbourhood

Almost a fifth (18%) of respondents surveyed would let their community know through a Facebook group or other social media if they or their alarm system were to detect someone unsuccessfully trying to enter their property, and almost three in 10 of respondents surveyed would post about it on social media if they saw someone acting suspiciously in their neighbourhood. Our study also reveals that one in 10 people who would report ‘suspicious’ behaviour on social media wouldn’t inform the police.

People’s attitudes to members of the public who post pictures of suspicious people or incidents on social media were found to be mixed. Over three in five (63%) respondents surveyed say ‘it is or would be helpful to know if there is something suspicious going on in our neighbourhood’, but almost a quarter of respondents say ‘it is or would be inappropriate — actions may be innocent, and people should contact the police to report suspicious activity’.


“Aviva home theft claims show a 15% increase during October and November when thieves have the opportunity to hide under the cover of darkness,” says Sarah Applegate. “We’d encourage people to be on their guard and to report any burglaries or attempted break-ins through the official channels and not rely solely on social media to keep people informed.”

Download the report