The changing nature of objects stolen in household burglaries

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Release date: 6 July, 2011, embargo: 9am

Burglars are switching their focus from electronic equipment to more portable consumer goods, according to a new report released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

The Bureau examined the pattern of goods stolen between 2001 and 2010. During this period the number of recorded household burglaries in NSW fell by 50 per cent. The goods targeted by burglars also changed dramatically.

In 2001 a video or DVD player was the third most popular item stolen in household burglaries, being taken in 19 per cent of incidents. In 2010, however, they were stolen in only six per cent of break-ins and had fallen to the 18th most stolen object.

Stereo equipment, overwhelmingly CD players, were the sixth most common object type stolen in 2001, and were targeted in 13 per cent of burglaries.

Ten years on they were the 33rd most stolen object taken in only three per cent of break-ins. Video cameras were the 17th most stolen object type in 2001, stolen in six per cent of break-ins.

In 2010, video cameras had fallen to the 27th most stolen object taken in four per cent of break-ins. Power tools, such as drills, power saws and angle grinders, were the tenth most stolen object type in 2001 In 2010, a power tool was taken in one in 20 burglaries and they were the 19th most targeted item.

More portable targets of theft have greatly increased in popularity. For example, while money was the most common object stolen in both 2001 and 2010, the percentage of incidents where cash was stolen has increased from 23 per cent of household burglaries to 31 per cent of break-ins.

In 2001, a wallet/handbag/purse was reported stolen in 10 per cent of break-ins (the 11th ranked object type). By 2010 this had risen to 14 per cent (the 6th most stolen object type).

In 2001, laptop computers were ranked 21st among stolen items and were stolen in just over one in twenty burglaries. In 2010, laptops were the second most stolen object type in household burglary incidents with a laptop being taken in one in four break-ins.

According to the Bureau, the best ways to reduce the risk of burglary are better household security, property marking, restrictions on pedestrian access to residential property (e.g. restrictions on laneway access), and arresting repeat offenders.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190