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Property crime includes statistics from the police recorded crime series (burglary, vehicle crime, other theft, fraud and forgery); British Crime Survey (BCS) burglary, vehicle-related theft and other thefts); and industry figures on fraud.

Publications

Crime Statistics
Department: Office for National Statistics
Crime statistics from the Crime Survey for England and Wales and police recorded crime.

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Overview

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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Technical Data

Burglary

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.

Vehicle Offences

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

Other theft

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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Glossary

  • Acquisitive crime

    A British Crime Survey (BCS) offence group that covers all household and personal crime where items are stolen. Household acquisitive crime includes: burglary and attempted burglary in a dwelling; theft in a dwelling; theft from outside a dwelling; theft and attempted theft of and from vehicles; and theft of pedal cycles.

  • APACS

    The UK payments association, records information on the financial losses resulting from plastic card fraud in the UK. Membership of APACS is open to any institution that is a principal member of a payment scheme that is widely used in the UK.

  • Burglary

    An offence of burglary is recorded by the police if a person enters any building as a trespasser with intent to commit an offence of theft, grievous bodily harm or unlawful damage. The BCS covers domestic burglary only, which is an unauthorised entry into the victim’s dwelling. Burglary does not necessarily involve forced entry; it may be through an open window, or by entering the property under false pretences. Burglary does not cover theft by a person who is entitled to be in the dwelling at the time of the offence (a theft in a dwelling would be recorded instead). The dwelling is a house, flat or any connected outhouse or garage. Common areas (such as, hallways) are not included.

  • CIFAS

    CIFAS is an industry Fraud Prevention Service with 270 members spread across banking, credit cards, asset finance, retail credit, mail order, insurance, savings and investments, telecommunications, factoring, and share dealing. Members share information about identified frauds to prevent further fraud.

  • Confidence interval

    The range of values between which the population parameter is estimated to lie. Surveys produce statistics that are estimates of the real figure for the population under study. These estimates are always surrounded by a margin of error of plus or minus a given range. At the 95 per cent confidence level, over many repeats of a survey under the same conditions, one would expect that these confidence intervals would contain the true population value in 95 times out of 100. When assessing the results of a single survey, it is assumed that there is a 1 in 20 chance that the true population value will fall outside the 95 per cent confidence interval calculated for the survey estimate.

  • Counting rules

    Instructions issued to the police by the Home Office on how the police should count and classify crime. Recorded crime figures in this publication are based on the counting rules that came into force on 1 April 1998. These rules were updated following the introduction on 1 April 2002 of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) National Crime Recording Standard devised by ACPO in collaboration with Home Office statisticians. A copy of the latest counting rules is available on the Home Office website.

  • National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS)

    Instigated by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), with the collaboration of Home Office statisticians, it aims to promote greater consistency between police forces in the recording of crime and to take a more victim-orientated approach to crime recording. Under the NCRS, where a member of the public reports a crime the police must record it providing ‘there is no credible evidence to the contrary’. Although some forces adopted the Standard early, it was officially introduced across England and Wales on 1 April 2002, though audits indicated that in some forces it took two to three years to be implemented.

  • Offences against vehicles

    A police recorded crime group which includes offences of aggravated vehicle taking, theft of a motor vehicle, theft from a vehicle and interfering with a motor vehicle. Attempted theft of and theft from offences are included in the substantive offence.

  • Sampling error

    A sample, as used in the BCS, is a small-scale representation of the population from which it is drawn. As such, the sample may produce estimates that differ from the figures that would have been obtained if the whole population had been interviewed. The size of the error depends on the sample size, the size and variability of the estimate, and the design of the survey. It can be computed and used to construct confidence intervals. Sampling error is also taken into account in tests of statistical significance.

  • Statistical significance

    Because the BCS estimates are subject to sampling error, differences between estimates from successive years of the survey or between population subgroups may occur by chance. Tests of statistical significance are used to identify which differences are unlikely to have occurred by chance. In this publication, tests at the 5 per cent significance level have been applied (the level at which there is a one in 20 chance of an observed difference being solely due to chance).

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Crime Statistics

Email: crimestats.rds@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7035 6823

Home Office 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF

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