Theft in all its guises

Looking at recent media headlines you could have concluded we are in the middle of a theft epidemic. The perception is often that nationally and locally crime has gone up, but if you scratch beneath the surface, there is a more complex and changing picture in relation to theft crime.

Since the highs experienced in the 1980’s and 1990’s, there has been ongoing decreases across a range of theft offences. 

However, criminals have been adapting to new opportunities and these overall reductions are being offset by rises in fraud and computer misuse offences.

As far as high net worth customers are concerned, our home surveys normally report very good protection against the opportunistic offender, as high levels of security are generally the norm. Outbuildings remain a particular concern however, as increasingly they are being utilised following the increase in working from home activities. As a result, such outbuildings have acquired expensive technology and coupled with generally inferior security, they represent much better pickings for criminals.

In recent years burglars are utilising new technology or information readily on the internet to overcome security (e.g. keyless or relay car theft). Additionally, it can be used to better plan their crime using simple searches on Google maps, social media or even making use of drones.     

There’s a trend to target more remote homes for expensive or sought after vehicles such as Range Rovers and high value jewellery. Isolated cases can hit the headlines, for example a gang of thieves were jailed last year after stealing £26 million worth of items (mainly jewellery) from a few celebrity homes. Celebrities or high profile footballers have long been targets as social media or a fixture lists show when they are away from their home. Some even go to the lengths of assaulting or holding a family hostage to obtain their hands on valuable designer goods, jewellery and expensive vehicles. Many of you will remember the 2016 burglary in Paris where Kim Kardashian and her family were held at gunpoint while the gang stole £7.4 million worth of jewellery.

On the whole rural crime rates are very much lower than in urban areas and such incidents whilst horrendous for those involved, are still thankfully quite rare. There is an increasing concern in many rural areas about the theft of equipment from outbuildings, heating fuel, even pets and livestock, driven by significant rises in their value. Heating oil tanks for example, potentially store thousands of pounds worth of oil, and are often located in remote areas making them an attractive target, particularly in the first 3 months of the year when they are full.

Cost of Living Crisis

For the foreseeable future, the effect of the cost of living crisis may become the predominant cause of increased burglary activity. More organised criminal gangs will continue to target specific homes and take advantage of weaknesses in modern security technologies. We expect to see the cost of living crisis impact less well protected properties within urban areas, probably with further increases in break-ins to those less protected outbuildings.

Boom times for the digital criminal

Recent government data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) also showed a 41% increase in fraud and 104% increase in computer misuse in 2020, compared to 2019.

Unfortunately, fraudsters are constantly on the lookout for new ways of ripping people off. Two popular methods, driven by the increase in online shopping, are

  1. a) scams where victims transfer funds to fraudsters for postal deliveries
  2. b) consumer and retail fraud

Phishing is one of the main methods used to commit fraud. This is when an email, text or social media message is used to obtain personal information or account details. The fraudsters will pretend to be delivery companies, banks, building societies or other financial institutions, or e-commerce companies to trick the victim into giving their details.


Policy Coverage

In summary, it is worth ensuring you have adequate protection on your chosen insurance product and the cover and service fully caters for your needs. Our Executive Home and Plus policies include worldwide contents cover as standard, including both the contents of outbuildings and office equipment, in addition to unlimited cover for theft of domestic oil. Valuable Home Cyber protection is also automatically included in both our home policies providing cover. It protects customers by covering costs associated with rectifying damage to their home systems as well as restoring lost or damaged data, removing viruses and hiring professionals to prevent further attacks. Additionally, if they are a victim of online fraud, hacking, or cyber ransom, the policy covers protection as well as assistance in putting things right.