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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2007   
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Contents >> Crime and Justice >> Article - Victims of household break-ins

VICTIMS OF HOUSEHOLD BREAK-INS

CHARACTERISTICS OF HOUSEHOLD VICTIMS OF BREAK-INS

Household crimes can have significant impacts on victims as a result of the losses a household may incur through damage or theft, and through the breach of the security of the home. It is generally accepted that not all households are at equal risk from household crimes such as a household break-in, and a number of factors can contribute to this risk. Community crime prevention programs focus on communicating to households ways in which they can help protect their home from break-in. Data from the National Crime and Safety Survey (NCSS), conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics during April-July 2005, show a number of characteristics of households experiencing break-in, victims' reporting of these incidents to police, and what offenders did while committing the break-in.

Break-in is defined in the NCSS as an incident where a person's home, including garage or shed was broken into. Break-in offences relating to the car or garden were excluded. To illustrate this definition, if a person broke into another person’s shed and stole a bike, this would be considered a break-in incident. If a person tried, yet failed to break-in to a shed and steal a bike, this would be counted as an attempted break-in. If a person stole the bike from an open area of land, it is not counted as a break-in or attempted break-in. Attempted break-ins and thefts without break-in are excluded from the data below.

In the twelve months prior to April 2005, 259,800 households were victims of at least one break-in to their home, garage or shed. This represented a victimisation prevalence rate of 3.3% of all households in Australia.

MULTIPLE VICTIMISATION

Of the total number of households experiencing a break-in, 80% (208,600) experienced one incident of break-in in a twelve-month period, 14% (35,700) experienced two break-in incidents, and 6.0% (15,500) experienced three or more break-ins (graph 11.8).

11.8 VICTIMS OF BREAK-IN - 2005 11.8 VICTIMS OF BREAK-IN - 2005


DWELLING TYPES

The survey found that 184,300 households living in separate houses experienced at least one incident of break-in in the twelve months prior to the survey. Just over 38,000 households living in flats or apartments experienced at least one incident of a break-in (table 11.9).


11.9 VICTIMS OF BREAK-IN, By dwelling structure - 2005

Dwelling structure
Break-in
All households

number
rate(a)
number
'000
%
'000

Separate house
184.3
3.1
5 905.3
Semi-detached or terrace house/townhouse etc.
34.4
3.9
876.5
Flat or apartment - on ground level
15.9
3.8
422.2
Flat or apartment - not on ground level
22.2
4.3
518.1
Other dwelling(b)
*3.1
*2.3
133.4
Total
259.8
3.3
7 855.6

(a) Percentage shown is the victimisation prevalence rate. Differences in the prevalence rate by type of dwelling are not statistically significant.
(b) Includes households that did not give details of dwelling structure.
Source: Crime and Safety, Australia, April 2005 (4509.0).


HOUSEHOLD TENURE

The tenure of a dwelling - whether the property is owned or rented - appears to have an impact on whether or not a household experiences a break-in. Rental properties were more at risk than households that were owned or being purchased. The prevalence rate of break-ins for rental households was 4.7% compared with 2.9% for households that were owned or being purchased (graph 11.10).

11.10 VICTIMS OF BREAK-IN, Dwelling tenure type - 2005 11.10 VICTIMS OF BREAK-IN, Dwelling tenure type - 2005


LENGTH OF TIME IN CURRENT DWELLING

The length of time a household has spent in their current dwelling also seems to be related to different levels of household victimisation. Households who had been living in their current dwelling for five years or more had a victimisation prevalence rate of 2.9% for break-ins during the twelve months prior to April 2005. In contrast, households who had been living in their property for less than a year were more likely to have experienced at least one break-in incident (4.1%). There was also a significant variation for those households who had been living in their household between three and five years and those living in their household for five years or more (4% and 2.9% respectively) (table 11.11).


11.11 VICTIMS OF BREAK-IN, Length of time in current dwelling - 2005
Break-in

'000
%(a)

Less than 1 year
50.5
4.1
1 to less than 3 years
61.7
3.6
3 to less than 5 years
45.0
4.0
5 years or more
128.2
2.9
Total(b)
259.8
3.3

(a) Percentage shown is the victimisation prevalence rate.
(b) Includes households that did not give details of the length of time lived in current dwelling.
Source: Crime and Safety, Australia, April 2005 (4509.0).


RESIDENTS

It would appear that the number of residents in a household has some impact on the risk of victimisation. Lone-person households were more likely to experience a break-in (4%) than two-person households (2.9%).

11.12 victims of break-in, Number of persons resident in household - 2005 11.12 victims of break-in, nUMBER OF PERSONS RESIDENT IN HOUSEHOLD - 2005


REPORTING TO POLICE

The majority of households (192,700 or 74.2% of victims) experiencing a break-in during the twelve months prior to April 2005 reported the most recent incident to police.

Of the remaining 67,100 (26%) households who did not report the most recent break-in, victims were asked about why they did not report the incident to police. The main reasons provided were: householders thought there was nothing police could do (20,600 households or 7.9%), households thought the incident was too trivial or unimportant to report (13,200 households or 5.1%) or that householders thought the police would be unwilling to do anything (9,200 households or 3.5%).

WHAT OFFENDERS DID IN THE MOST RECENT INCIDENTS OF BREAK-INS

Around 217,000 households indicated that for the most recent incident of a break-in during the reference period, the offender did not do anything beyond physically breaking in to their home. For 201,500 households the offender stole property, while property damage was experienced by 115,200 households. A number of incidents involved the offender confronting someone (25,500 households) (graph 11.13).

11.13 WHAT THE OFFENDER DID IN THE MOST RECENT HOUSEHOLD BREAK-IN - 2005 11.13 WHAT THE OFFENDER DID IN THE MOST RECENT HOUSEHOLD BREAK-IN - 2005


Overall, according to findings from the 2005 NCSS, those households at greater risk of a break-in were lone-person households which were being rented rather than owned or being purchased and households where the residents had occupied the premises for less than a year. The risk of break-ins was not influenced by the type of dwelling. Households were generally likely to report a break-in incident to police. Of those who did not, the reasons most often given were that there was nothing police could do, or the incident was too trivial.

REFERENCE

Crime and Safety, Australia, April 2005 (4509.0)

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