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Several criminological studies of crime data reveal that once we become the victim of a crime (in this example, burglary) our chances of suffering another burglary straight afterwards are higher than the chances of suffering the first! This increased likelihood of burglary quickly drops off with time, but the rate doesn’t settle back to the original pre-burglary chance for several months.
So, if you’ve been unfortunate enough to suffer a burglary please don’t think that you’ve had your turn and they won’t be coming back. The data says otherwise!
Why should this be the case?
Well, there could be several reasons, but the obvious ones are that:
- The same thieves return to steal items of property they were unable to take during the first burglary, possibly bringing a vehicle on the second occasion
- The same thieves return, knowing that certain items have been replaced by the householder after claiming on their home contents insurance
- Different thieves take advantage of the same security weaknesses. These thieves may have spotted these security weaknesses for themselves or may have been told about them by the first thieves
Risks for the neighbours not burgled also go up!
It has also been established that once a burglary has occurred at one house along a street, the risks also go up for neighbouring dwellings.
This may be because of some environmental design issue, such as an ungated alleyway running to the rear of terraced housing – hence my development of The Alleygater’s Guide to Gating Alleys. (See Alleygating - Trraced housing and back alleyways)
Sometimes common design features shared by similar houses along a street can lead to ‘repeats’, such as ungated side accesses between semi-detached homes and deeply recessed front entrances. On new housing estates, which will have the same locks on all the entrance doors (albeit different keys) burglars who like to attack the lock cylinders will have a field day, because the MO will be identical for each dwelling. This is why you need an alarm and should upgrade your lock cylinders, if they’re not anti-bump and attack resistant.
It is for these reasons why I applaud all efforts by the police and neighbourhood watch volunteers to warn neighbours that a burglary has taken place along their street.
This well researched theory of Repeat Victimisation, originally developed by Professor Ken Pease, a friend of this website, has important messages for both the householder and the police service. It is pretty obvious that the victimised householder should react immediately and increase their home security and it is also essential that the police not only provide the victim with the necessary information to enable them to improve their security arrangements, but also to tell them precisely why an improvement to their security is essential – forewarned is forearmed!
Since writing the above this article appeared on the website of Churchill and UK Insurance Limited (part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc) in 2017, suggesting that 1 in 4 burglary victims are burgled again at the same address. Worth a read.
Updated August 2017