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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 November, 2004, 14:02 GMT
Burglars see theft as 'risk free'
Burglar breaking in
Only 10% of burglars believed there was a high chance of being arrested
Most burglars regard their criminal activities as "virtually risk free", according to Home Office research.

Statistics showed 67% of house burglars thought there was little or no risk of being arrested during a break-in.

Home Office researchers spoke to dozens of burglars to discover how they became involved in crime and selected targets.

The report concludes: "Once inside a property, residential burglary for this sample of offenders was regarded as virtually risk free."

The authors added: "The threat of detection during the course of a burglary or after disposal of goods was considered an insufficient deterrent.

Burglary has clearly become less of a gamble and more like a job for life
Mark Oaten, Lib Dem home affairs spokesman

"Despite the fact that most had previously been arrested for the offence, few considered it to be risky at any stage."

Researchers questioned 61 burglars about the perceived levels of risk when house-breaking.

Only 10% of burglars believed there was a high chance of being caught by police during a break-in.

Burglars also said the risks declined significantly once they had disposed of stolen property, with 89% saying there was no or low risk, and only 7% saying there was a high risk of arrest.

'Job for life'?

The Tories claimed government data showed the proportion of burglaries solved by police fell from 23% in 1997, when Labour came to power, to just 13% last year.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "This research shows how many burglars feel perfectly safe committing this crime at will.

"This is because under Labour detection rates for burglary have halved - it just goes to show how Labour are all talk."

And Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten said: "Burglary has clearly become less of a gamble and more like a job for life."

Home Office crime figures published in October revealed a 23% fall in the number of burglaries recorded by police in April to June this year, compared with the same period in 2003.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "The risk of being burgled remains at its lowest for 20 years.

36 out of 69 had spent no more than 10 minutes in the property
84% would be deterred by the presence of a burglar alarm
84% would be put off if they thought the house was occupied
82% would be deterred by the presence of CCTV equipment
55% would be dissuaded by the presence of strong locks

"But we are not complacent, there is still much to do to keep burglary levels down and drive them down further in highest crime areas.

"The British Crime Survey shows that a fifth of burglary and theft takes place because people are failing to take basic precautions to protect their property."

The Home Office paper revealed that out of 80 burglars questioned, 25 said they first became involved in the crime through peer pressure, while 18 said it was to get cash for drugs and 14 said it was through boredom.

But later in their criminal careers, funding a drug habit became the predominant reason, cited by 34 people.

Thieves said money, laptop computers and jewellery were their favourite items.

House burglary falls by a third
06 Oct 04 |  Staffordshire

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