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Crime and looking for a new home
Research conducted in 2003 by Dr Rachel Armitage and Dr Steve Everson (See A factual analysis below) indicated that a sizeable minority of 40% of first time buyers and 35% of other buyers rated a secure environment as being the most important feature of a new home. This leaves about two thirds of home buyers in a category where they haven’t considered the security of the local neighbourhood or at least do not consider security as the most important feature. It is interesting then to find that the British Crime Survey tells us that people who’ve been living in their new home for less than a year are almost twice as likely to be burgled as the average. This strongly suggests that thinking about the security of the local neighbourhood and the security for the home when you’re looking for a new one is precisely the time to consider it.
As discussed in Burglary Risk the distribution of burglary and theft from the home is not random. They occur in geographical concentrations, because the opportunity for burglary and theft is different from place to place and some dwellings types and neighbourhoods are more likely to get burgled than others. In addition, your age, your marital status and your employment status all make a difference.
An estimated 600,000 burglaries took place in England and Wales during 2010/11; a burglary rate of 26 per 1000 households, but for those who had lived in their home for less than a year the rate was 46 per 1000 households. The reasons for this heightened risk are many, but will probably relate to the disruption of your normal routine and the distraction caused by having to do so many things in your new home.
The House Moving Security Checklist
Now that you know that security is an important aspect of house moving, take a look at this check list for things to consider. Print out the checklist and keep it with your house moving file so you can refer to it.
To print one off click here .
Looking for a new home
Before you move
The day of the move
After you've moved
See also my guide to moving home writen with ADT entitled Moving Home Are you really prepared? - No longer available, but see this page on their website
A true story - The home buyer’s attitude to crime prevention
In order to establish public attitudes to the security of a new home and to support the still young and emerging police project called ‘Secured by Design' I managed to secure the help of a sales representative who worked in the show home for a new housing development in West London. She agreed to ask visitors to the show homes to complete a couple of simple survey forms for me. This happened back in 1992. I’m not specifying the location of the site as the survey was only conducted in one of three show houses for a development involving several house builders. The samples were small, but were sufficient to be indicative of the general attitude to security at the time.
I asked the representative if she was willing to help the police discover whether the people visiting her show house were interested in home security or not. After she spoke with her employers she agreed to assist.
Visitors to the show home were asked to write down on a piece of blank paper the top three features they considered to be most important about a new home. They were given no prompts and they were not told it was the police asking the questions. The survey was conducted over a single weekend and was completed by 75 visitors. Because this was a free text response the responses were very varied in detail and length with some respondents giving simple one word answers and others complete sentences. The results of the survey were straightforward. Nearly all the respondents commented upon the desire for a ‘well fitted kitchen or bathroom’ and ‘practical room sizes’ with a few comments relating to gardens, central heating, insulation and free white goods. There were hardly any comments about the security of the house or the estate.
After they had viewed the house the viewer was asked to complete a second form. The form listed 10 attributes of the new home they had just viewed and they were asked to select the three they considered to be most important to them.
The list included the following attributes:
Fitted kitchen, Fitted bathroom, Free Carpets and curtains, Turf for front and back gardens, Warm air central heating, Timber frame construction, Adequate security locks, Attractive estate landscaping, Parking for two vehicles, Loft installation
Of the 72 respondents who filled out this form 52 (72%) included ‘Adequate security locks’ in their top three choices. This simple survey confirmed the author’s suspicion that whilst security was clearly an important consideration for the house buying public it was not one that immediately sprang to mind when home viewing. The house buying public in this example were far more interested in fitted kitchens and bathrooms and free carpets and curtains – unless they were prompted.
The author raised this finding with the marketing organisation used by this national house builder and was not surprised to learn that this attitude to security was already well known to them. They regarded home security as a matter for the householder once they had bought the property, not a matter to concern the house builder. Indeed, one even suggested that the promotion of a high level of security or the fact that the property had the police badge: ‘Secured by Design’ would possibly indicate that the housing estate had been built in a high crime area and that SBD promotion would deter the house buyer! Interestingly the same house builder offered an alarm system as an optional extra to the buyer, but sold very few of them, possibly because they were rather more expensive than having an independent alarm company install a system later.
A factual analysis
For a more accurate and related assessment of UK home buyers’ preferences relating to security the reader is directed to a paper entitled ‘Building for Burglars’ Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An international Journal Volume: 5 Issue: 4 2003 Pages 15 – 25 by Dr Rachel Armitage and Dr Steve Everson. (Sadly, only available for purchase) This paper successfully argues against the UK’s home builder’s belief that house buyers are not attracted by home designs that resist crime. The research involved the cooperation of two national estate agents who distributed questionnaires to individuals in England and Wales at the point of their purchase of a house. Respondents were asked to check a number of features that were important to them in their decision to purchase. Amongst these was a “secure environment” feature. Of the total of 233 completed questionnaires that were analyzed, 37 percent of the respondents placed "secure environment" as their top priority, followed by "fitted carpets" (25 percent) and a "garage" (17 percent). The authors further concluded that “Forty percent of first-time buyers and 35 percent of other buyers rated ‘secure environment’ as the most important feature of a new home. The findings do indicate a demand by home buyers for a reasonable level of security, which extends beyond what can be currently found in private housing. This finding challenges the view that there is no demand for enhanced security and that homes advertised as such will be more difficult to sell.”
Updated March 2016