Crime has been sent packing, or so to speak. With all of us home due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions, the impact on property crime has been evident all around England and Wales. The new data from ONS show a 20% drop in total burglaries in 2020. And it’s not just residential burglaries that felt this impact, in England alone non-residential burglaries fell 25% compared to 2019.
Other Contributing Factors
The fact that many businesses were required to close during this time can be easily tied to this drop in non-residential burglaries, including overall restriction on freedom of movement. When it comes to residential burglary, Billy Gazard from the Office for National Statistics Centre for Crime and Justice stated it clearly: “There was a significant fall in crime at the height of the coronavirus pandemic across England and Wales. This was driven by reductions in theft offences, particularly domestic burglary and theft of personal property. As this period coincided with the majority of people spending long periods at home during the lockdown, it is not unexpected.”
But other than the pandemic, what else could we attribute this drop to? Another factor could be increased police presence on the streets to ensure everyone is following lockdown rules, which in turn deterred more criminals. One way or the other, the novel coronavirus is the prime reason why burglary numbers had such a significant decrease.
Not the Same for Everyone
Though the numbers show a trend of lower burglaries, not all regions and areas have felt such tremendous impact. Most noticeably, South Yorkshire saw total burglaries decrease by 22% yet had both the highest burglary rate per 1000 people in all of England and Wales and the highest non-residential burglary rate.
Speaking in total numbers, London was the region with the most burglaries in all of England and Wales, in all categories: total, non-residential and residential burglaries. However, there was still a general decrease when compared to 2019 figures.
In fact, when looking at the numbers by regions and areas we concluded that every single one had fewer burglaries in 2020, with the biggest decrease registered by Northumbria’s non-residential burglaries (-35%).
Even Cumbria, with only 3% less residential burglaries felt a drop in all categories.
So what is the expected result long-term? As restrictions are being lifted the concern is that many will return to work and find break-ins, resulting in a spike of non-residential burglaries in the upcoming months. With the number of properties left vacant in the last year, unless there are security solutions in place, reports will be filled with uncertainty of the exact date on which the burglary happened.
Maintaining vigilance and keeping security top of mind is our advice. As Professor Innes, director of the Crime and Security Research Institute at Cardiff University, put it: “Longer term we are going to see a lot of empty shops and town centres are going to be very different than they have been… what we know is when you’ve got empty stores they act as a magnet for trouble.”
As for residential burglaries, as restrictions start being lifted many homeowners will depart on long-awaited holidays and leave behind their valuables with low-security measures in place. All in all, it is fair to predict that a post-lockdown burglary spike is coming.