Page last updated at 04:52 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Crime targets affected by drop in goods prices

Man climbing through a window
Globalisation has changed the targets of thieves, researchers say

Criminals are looking for different items to steal because globalisation has brought prices of some household goods down, new research suggests.

Researchers at the University of Leicester say criminals are moving from traditional household burglaries to personal muggings.

Criminology lecturer James Treadwell said that a DVD player costing £19.99 was "simply not worth stealing".

The findings came as part of research into how crime has changed over time.

Mr Treadwell said globalisation - especially cheaper electronic goods from China and the Far East - was forcing thieves to re-think what items were worth taking.

He said: "The last decade has been a remarkable one where crime is concerned, with massive changes and shifts.

While we might have seen a decline in some types of crime, we have seen a rise in other forms of criminal activity, particularly young people who seem to be mugging one another
James Treadwell, criminology lecturer

"If we look back to the 1980s and 1990s, the type of staple crimes would be, for example, very often burglary and car crime and those crimes worked because they followed a business model and it was possible to break into a house and steal a video recorder and sell that at a profit.

"Cheap labour in China has had an impact on the type of crime that's committed in the UK and the type of goods that are stolen today.

"Gradually, the prices of such goods has fallen so low as to they almost have no resale value."

Mr Treadwell is due to present his findings on changes in criminal trends at the British Society of Criminology conference at the University of Leicester in July.

Crime figures

He added: "While we might have seen a decline in some types of crime, we have seen a rise in other forms of criminal activity, particularly young people who seem to be mugging one another," he added.

"While DVD players for example, got cheaper, certain consumer items became smaller and were very, very expensive and sought after and so the latest mobile phone, or the latest iPod, which people carry about them, have become targets for robbers.

According to the university, the British Crime Survey (BCS) for 2008/09 estimated there were 1.28m domestic burglaries in England and Wales in 1999, almost one in 10 of the crimes recorded by the survey.

By 2008/09 that number had fallen and there were some 744,000 burglaries.

The survey also found burglary dropped 58% between 1995 and 2008/09.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The evidence is clear, burglary is down 54% since 1997 and mugging has remained stable during that time.

"The risk of being a victim of crime is historically low and the British Crime Survey shows that since 1997 overall crime has fallen by 36% and violence is down by 41%."

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