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Property crime covers the various ways in which individuals, households or corporate bodies are deprived of their property by illegal means (or where there is intent to do so) or where their property is damaged. These include offences of burglary, theft, criminal damage (see also Criminal damage and Anti-social behaviour) and fraud (including identity fraud). Recorded crime includes crimes reported to and recorded by the police.
The degree to which crimes are reported and recorded varies according to crime type (see Crime trends). Key factors as to whether property crime is reported are perceived seriousness and whether property is insured. The British Crime Survey (BCS) provides estimates of crimes against the person and household, whether or not these are reported to the police. The BCS does not include crimes against corporate bodies. It does measure identity fraud as part of a separate study of hard-to-measure crimes.
Statistics on fraud use industry data (from APACS, the UK payments association and CIFAS) as well as from the BCS to supplement the number of crimes recorded by the police. Police figures on their own do not provide a good estimate of the levels of fraud. The BCS provides a measure of fraud (including identity fraud) committed against individuals in private households. However, there are conceptual difficulties around the definition and measurement of fraud in surveys: for example, respondents might not be aware that the deception has taken place.
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Key elements of police recorded burglaries (as defined by the Theft Act 1968) are entry (or attempted entry) to a building as a trespasser with intent to either:
steal property from it (including stealing or attempting to steal)
inflict grievous bodily harm, or
commit unlawful damage to property while inside
Recorded crime figures include burglaries of all buildings, reported to and recorded by the police, and make the distinction between domestic and non-domestic offences.
The British Crime Survey (BCS) covers domestic burglaries only, which is defined as an unauthorised entry (including break-ins and attempts) into the victim’s dwelling (any house or flat or any outhouse or garage linked to the dwelling via a connecting door), regardless of intent.
The police recorded crime category of offences against vehicles covers private and commercial vehicles and comprises:
thefts and attempted thefts of vehicles, where the intent is to permanently deprive the owner
unauthorised taking of a vehicle, where intent to permanently deprive the owner is not evident (this would typically include ‘joyriding’ where the car is later recovered)
aggravated vehicle taking, where a vehicle once taken is known to have been driven dangerously, damaged or caused an accident
thefts and attempted thefts from a vehicle targeting property in or on the vehicle, and
interfering with a motor vehicle, which includes attempts to drive away without apparent intent to permanently deprive the owner (mostly included as ‘attempted thefts’ within BCS)
The BCS includes offences against private households only and includes cars, vans, motorbikes, motor-scooters or mopeds used for non-commercial purposes.
It identifies three vehicle theft categories:
thefts of vehicles, where a vehicle is stolen
thefts from vehicles, refers to both theft of parts and accessories of motor vehicles and to theft of contents
attempted thefts of and from vehicles, not distinguished between because of the difficulty in establishing the offender’s intentions
Police recorded other theft includes all theft and handling stolen goods offences but excludes all offences against vehicles (such as theft of and from a vehicle).
The British Crime Survey (BCS) coverage of thefts is as follows:
theft from the person comprises snatch and stealth theft. There may be an element of force in snatch theft (just enough to snatch the property away) and victims are often aware of the incident. No force is used in stealth thefts and victims are usually unaware of incidents at the time they occur. For recorded crime, theft from the person offences are those where there is no use of threat or force
other theft of personal property covers thefts away from the home where no force is used and the victim is not holding or carrying the items when they are stolen (for example, thefts of unattended property in the workplace)
other household thefts cover a number of theft types. Theft in a dwelling includes thefts that occurred in the victim’s dwelling, by someone who was entitled to be there. Theft from outside a dwelling covers incidents where items are stolen from outside the victim’s home. The category also includes burglaries to non-connected buildings, for example, garden sheds
bicycle thefts are recorded by the BCS if no attempt was made to steal anything else
Fraud: Changes to reporting procedures
From 1 April 2007, where a financial institution makes full financial recompense to an account holder, the financial institution (rather than the account holder) can report the crime directly to a single point of contact within the police.
These changes have been supported by APACS (the UK payments association) and ACPO (the Association of Chief Police Officers). The Fraud Review (2006) also referred to the changes that were being put in place (see the Attorney General website).
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