The Dark Night: complacent Brits risk becoming victims of bad man and robbing as winter draws in

17 December 2018


  • Two thirds of Brits burgled with a third hit more than once
  • Seven in ten burglary victims turn to modern tech to protect their homes
  • But, three quarters of battery powered smartphone doorbell cameras left without power
  • More than a third of victims admit to posting that they are going away on social media
  • Almost one in ten took no further action to protect their home post break-in

Brits are running the risk of becoming another burglary statistic as complacency sees windows and doors left unlocked and alarms turned off.

New research1 from Nationwide Home Insurance, which surveyed more than 1,000 people who have previously been the victim of burglary, shows more than two thirds (69%) have been targeted once, although, worryingly, nearly a third (30%) admit to having been burgled twice or more. The average amount stolen during each home invasion totals £1,068 and, according to the poll, more than one in five (22%) had more than £1,000 stolen.

Ding-dong, there’s someone at the door

Many homeowners will, at some point, worry about being burgled, but to try and prevent their home being targeted, around seven in ten (71%) are turning to modern technology and gadgets to secure their homes, a new poll shows. One example of security gadgetry that is becoming more and more popular is the smartphone doorbell camera, which more than two in five respondents (45%) say they have now installed in a desperate attempt to protect their home.

However, the enthusiasm for the new technology soon wears off as three quarters (75%) of respondents say their battery powered smartphone doorbell camera has been left without power because the battery has run out, with a third (33%) admitting this has happened on more than one occasion.

Despite the obvious security benefits, more than three in five (62%) people admit they turned off the alerts associated with their smartphone doorbell camera because they were annoying them. Almost three in ten (29%) have done so on more than one occasion. And, nearly three quarters (70%) of men admit to having turned off alerts compared to just over half (56%) of women.

Other examples of technology used to secure homes include:


  • Lights on a timer (23%)
  • CCTV (20%)
  • Door alarms (18%)
  • Motion alarms (16%)
  • Fake burglar alarms (11%)
  • Thermal CCTV sensors (7%)

Traditional security

Despite the move towards modern technology and gadgets, Brits are still securing their home using traditional means, such as:


  • Locked doors (69%)
  • Locked windows (59%)
  • Shut curtains/blinds when away (41%)
  • Telling a neighbour when they are away (36%)
  • Ensuring side gates are properly locked (34%)
  • Removing valuables from view of ground floor windows (33%)
  • Cancelling regular deliveries when away (16%)
  • Asking someone to park their car on the driveway (10%)

Locking the door

When it comes to sorting that home insurance policy, a lot of providers ask about the type of locks on any outside doors. According to Nationwide’s poll, more than half (55%) of respondents have a multi-locking system lock on their front door, with more than a third (36%) having one on the back door.

Social media alerts

The popularity of social media channels to showcase holidays can be a security risk given it highlights that homes will be empty for a period of time. According to the Nationwide poll of people who have been burgled, more than a third (35%) admitted that they had posted on social media about their trip away. Worryingly, one in five (20%) had done so on more than one occasion.

Peak times for burglary

June, August, October and December were the most common months to be burgled with more than a third (36%) of burglaries occurring during those months, according to the Society’s research. Looking at the seasons, summer (June, July, August) does appear a popular time for burglaries with more than a quarter (26%) occurring during those months compared to just 19 per cent in the winter months (December, January, February).

Nearly a quarter (24%) of those polled said they had been burgled during the day (between 6am and 6pm), compared to two thirds (66%) during the night (6pm to 6am). More than a quarter (27%) of respondents said the burglar gained entry through the back door, 25 per cent through a downstairs window and 18 per cent via the front door.

Steps to prevent further burglaries

Worryingly, despite being the victim of a burglary, around one in ten (9%) have taken no extra security measures since the last break in.

However, nearly a third (31%) now sleep close to their phone so they can dial 999 in an emergency, while nearly a quarter (23%) have bought more modern technology to increase security. Nearly three in five (56%) also now lock all windows and doors when they go out, with nearly two in five (38%) removing keys from doors and window locks.

For those who have been burgled before, more than a third (36%) of female respondents sleep close to their phone so they can dial 999 in an emergency, compared to less than a quarter (22%) of male respondents.

Paul Carvell, Head of Nationwide Home Insurance, comments: “December can be a popular month for burglars, especially with houses full of Christmas presents.

“According to the police, homes with no security measures in place are five times more likely to be burgled than those with simple security measures2. But, according to our poll, people are now going beyond the traditional locks and alarms as they fit new technology and gadgets, such as smartphone doorbell cameras, to secure their home to an even greater extent.

“If you are the victim of a burglary, it is important to re-evaluate how you protect your home, which is why it is encouraging to see that around nine in ten victims have taken extra security measures to prevent further break-ins.

“Having the right level of home insurance cover is important should the worst happen. And, with our new home insurance product, members have a choice of cover and features to match their needs, recognising that people live in different types of accommodation at different stages of their life.

“As an added benefit for those with Nationwide’s home insurance, we automatically increase their contents cover by 10 per cent during the festive period. However, post-Christmas, we would encourage people to review the level of contents cover they have to factor in any expensive gifts received.”

Key regional findings


  • Two in five (40%) people in Yorkshire and the Humber have been burgled more than once – the highest in the country – followed by London (34%) and the North West (33%). Those in Wales are the least likely to experience burglary more than once (less than one in five – 18% have been targeted more than once).
  • East of England has the highest average amount stolen (£1,523) followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (£1,456), compared to just £417 in Wales and £556 in the South West.
  • West Midlands have the highest average repair costs (£641) compared to just £331 in Wales.
  • Those in the West Midlands (46%) and the North East (43%) are most likely to post they are going away on social media, with those in the East of England (23%) and the South West (27%) the least likely.
  • Almost two in five (37%) respondents living in Wales have left a door unlocked during the daytime, compared to under a fifth (19%) of those living in London.
  • Almost half (46%) of respondents in Yorkshire and the Humber tell a neighbour when they are away, compared to less than a quarter (24%) living in London.
  • A quarter (25%) of respondents living in the East of England use CCTV at home for security, compared to just 13% in the South West.
  • Scotland (31%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (30%) are most likely to use lights on a timer compared to just 18% in London.
  • 16% in the West Midlands use passive infrared sensors and 22% use a fake camera.

Key age group differences


  • Younger people are more likely to have been burgled more than once: 35 per cent of 16-24s; 28 per cent of 25-34s versus just 24 per cent of over 55s.
  • Those aged 35-44 had an average of £1,332 stolen, compared to 16-24s (£848) and 45-54s (£961).
  • Younger people are more likely to be burgled overnight (between 12am and 6am): 52% of 16-24s versus 34% of over 55s.
  • Older people are most likely to be burgled during the day (between 6am and 6pm).

Notes to Editors:

1Research conducted online between 22 and 29 November 2018 by Censuswide among 1,001 people who have previously been burgled.

2https://www.police.uk/crime-prevention-advice/burglary/

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