Social Issue, Burglary
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Burglary is defined as “the breaking into and illegal entry of a structure with intent to commit a crime”, Amy B. 2012.
In the UK there is an estimated burglary every 40 seconds. In 58% of them there was someone in the house at the time, 44% were committed in broad day light and 1 in 4 burglary victims will get burgled again. The top 5 items that are taken during these incidents are:-
* small electrical items, such as cameras
As well as the financial aspect of having your possessions stolen there is also the mental trauma to the victim. The effects are very wide ranging, the victims can feel as if their security has also been stolen and can encounter the emotions of fear, anger, resentment, shame, grief and mood swings. “Half the people affected found that the experience was like a physical violation. Some never feel safe in their own home again and to take some measure of control back they have to move”, Blanca. 2011. FIGURE 1 Trends in domestic burglary, 1981 to 2011/12
The above chart shows the level of burglary in England and Wales for the last 30 years as you can see, throughout the 15 year it has went down, however it now seems to be steadying out.
TYPES OF BURGLARY
When most people think of burglary, the first thing that comes into their mind is a smash and grab; were an offender has broken their way into a home by smashing a window or breaking a door down then ransacking the premises. There is more to it than that.
A high number are committed by opportunists who will take advantage of a situation, for example doors and windows being left open, and will only take a couple of high value items and be gone within minutes.
There are also prowler’s who will be more complex and will have a good system of disposing of goods. They will watch your habits to see when you are least likely to be at home and will take a high volume of items, sometimes even going away to stash some then coming back for more.
You also can have burglars who have someone internal who will let them know when premises are vacant, such as when the occupant is on holiday. These type usually then proceed with a removal van being used and the full contents of the building are being stolen. This is not a common type but can be very traumatic. What is now becoming more common is when only car keys are taken. Due to improvements made over the years to car security, it is easier now to just get hold of the keys when stealing a car. One way this is being committed by burglars is by them going around a neighbourhood checking through letterboxes to identify car keys that are left near the front door, then using a long stick to retrieve them. Also very common are distraction burglaries in which the home owner is tricked or distracted by one offender while another gains access to commit the crime, mainly the theft of cash and jewellery. The elderly are particular victims of this type of crime.
More and more burglars are now targeting building sites and other construction areas targeting tools, equipment and also high volume metals like copper. This can increase building costs to a high degree due to the loss of equipment and the destruction also caused by the removal of copper piping.
The type which causes the most distress and trauma is when there are intruders in the home while the homeowners are at home and a physical confrontation occurs, especially if there is a family with children present. This can be a life changing moment and a lot of people are never the same again. They will suffer from anger, resentment and have a sense of failure; they will also never be able to feel as if they are safe in their own home again.
RIGHTS OF THE HOUSEHOLDER
At the minute the law states that a householder has the right to repel a burglar using reasonable force and to even detain a burglar using Citizen’s Arrest, as long as only reasonable force has been used.
Reasonable force is defined by the setting; for example if you are confronted by a burglar who is armed and has shown intent to use lethal force and you are in possession of knife, it is then reasonable to use it to defend yourself. What is not considered reasonable is if the burglar is not armed or hasn’t shown any attempt to harm you, but you still use the knife. This is all open to interpretation and any such acts could have to be determined in a court by a jury, who will decide if reasonable or excessive force was used.
However, things could be changing as Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced a shake-up of legislation concerning this. It comes after Britain’s top judge reinforced the notion that a person’s home is their castle, saying furious householders have the right to get rid of burglars and are not expected to remain calm when confronted by intruders, Sean Billey 2012. In response, Chris Grayling has announced that legislation will be changed so that if, in the cold light of day, it appears that disproportional force seems to have been used, then this will be acceptable but grossly disproportional force will still be illegal; in other words if a householder stabs a clearly unarmed intruder while he is subdued or trying to get away, then this would be classified as disproportional force and thus would still be illegal. This is still left wide open to interruption, and no date has yet been set for these changes to happen.
FIGURE 2 POLICE RECORDED AND CSEW CRIMES 2011/12, BY CRIME TYPE
The above chart shows the percentage of reported crime in England and Wales over 2011, 2012. As u can see burglary represents 7% of the overall figure which at first glance seems relatively small but if you take into account it is 7% of 9.5 million, you then find that the figure is then comparatively larger.
WAYS OF PROTECTING YOUR HOME
There is no full proof way of stopping a determined burglar but there are many ways of protecting against most intruders; some are common sense and inexpensive, others can be more expensive depending on what degree of protection is desired:- * Make sure all doors and windows are locked, this might sound simple but it is effective in discouraging opportunist burglars. * Don’t leave spare keys outside of the home, some people will leave them under mats or plant pots but an experienced burglar will be able to quickly locate them. * Keep any valuables out of site of windows and doors; this is most important for small electrical equipment such as laptops, cameras, games consoles and also car keys. * Use of the garage to park your car, some burglars will watch premises where the car is parked out the front to determine when the home will be empty.
There are also steps that can be taken if the premises are going to be empty for any great length of time, for example if the occupants are away on holiday:- * Make sure all deliveries are cancelled, if there is a large build up of milk gathering outside a home this is a big give away that there is nobody at home. * Make sure the post getting delivered is not in view, burglars are known to check through windows and glazed doors to see if there is a build up of post enabling them to calculate if there is anybody home. * The use of timer switches, these can be used to turn lights and TVs on at night to give the impression that there is someone at home, even though in reality there is not. * Let someone trusted know there will be no one on the premises, it should not be advertised there will be no one there but a trusted neighbour or family member should be informed as they can keep a watch for any intruders or suspicious activity.
Other more expensive but worthwhile measures can also be taken, some are more affordable than others and include:- * The fitting of secure locks to doors and windows, this can be expensive but gives good results. * Outdoor lighting, these mostly come with motion sensors that will active when someone comes within range. * Alarm systems, these are the best defence against burglars as most will just pass by a house with one fitted. * Pet dogs, as well as a good companion a good sized and loud dog is a valuable deterrent. * C.C.T.V, this can now be an affordable and readily available option, especially for rural areas and places with a high crime rate, they are also easily fitted.
Another area to look at is the Neighbourhood Watch, a voluntary service which operates throughout the whole country. This provides communities the chance to band together so nobody feels vulnerable, alone or afraid in their home; this is achieved through everyone looking out for each other, patrols by voluntary members and regular meetings in which any concerns can be addressed. The neighbourhood watch also works closely with the local community police and other organizations that provide help or advice. This scheme is very beneficial for communities and can reduce crime by a large margin, and it also promotes a great since of community spirit.
In conclusion, the figures are startling there is a burglary in the UK ever 40 seconds, 44% in broad daylight, in 58% of cases there was someone in the home and 1 in 4 victims will be burgled again. Everybody has the right to feel safe in their own home, no one should be made to feel afraid, vulnerable or isolated because of a burglary but that is the hard truth in most cases; it isn’t the fact that possessions can be lost or property can be destroyed that causes the most damage, it’s the emotional effects of having someone breaking into your residence, going through your possessions, being not only in your own bedroom, but also those of your children, that causes the most distress.
It can lead the victims to not only feel angry and unsafe, but can also lead to extreme consequences. For example, some house holders have been known to move home because of the stress; others find the thought of a stranger rummaging through their clothes and personal effects so repellent that they have been known to wash everything vigorously and often more than once; homeowners who may have been burgled more than once can become extremely paranoid about their safety, so much so that they go to great lengths to protect themselves and their home, with some even going as far as setting up elaborate Bobbie traps and arming them self.
The bad news is there is no way of completely protecting your home from burglary, but the good news is there are simple and easy steps you can take to greatly reduce the chance that it could happen to you. Things like making sure all doors and windows are locked, ensuring all your valuable, especially cash and laptops, are way from windows and by having someone you trust, or someone in a neighbourhood watch scheme, keep an eye on your home. If you live in a high risk area or have had problems before, it could be advisable to invest some money in more robust methods like sensor lighting, C.C.T.V. or, the most effective protection, an alarm system.
Blanca, 2010, The Psychological Effects Of Home Burglary [Online]. Available From Http://Www.Securityworldnews.Com/2010/02/05/The-Psychological-Effects-Of-Home-Burglary-3/ [Cited 25 Oct 2012]. Sia Nicalas, 2005, Crime In Enland And Wales [Online] Available From Http://Webarchive.Nationalarchives.Gov.Uk/20110218135832/Http://Rds.Homeoffice.Gov.Uk/Rds/Pdfs05/Hosb1105.Pdf/ [Cited 25 Oct 2012). Billey, 2012. Conference Diary: New Homeowners Right Could Be Burglars Charter. [Online]. Available From Http://Www.Politics.Co.Uk/Comment-Analysis/2012/10/09/Conference-Diary-New-Homeowner-Rights-Could-Be-Burglar-S-Cha/ [Cited 26 Oct 2012]. Amy B, 2012. How To Protect Your Home From Burglars. [Online]. Available From Http://Www.Asecurelife.Com/How-To-Protect-Your-Home-From-Burglars/ [Cited 1 Nov 2012]. Neighbourhood Watch, 2012. Our Mission.[Online]. Available From: Http://Www.Ourwatch.Org.Uk/Our_Work/Our_Mission/[Cited 20 Nov 2012] Office For National Statistics, 2012. Crime In England And Wales. [Online] Available From Http://Www.Ons.Gov.Uk/Ons/Rel/Crime-Stats/Crime-Statistics/Period-Ending-March-2012/Stb-Crime-Stats-End-March-2012.Html#Tab-Burglary/ [ Cited 20 Nov2012].