Latest available data from March 2018

Quick Stats

  • In 2017 there were 225,900 recorded burglaries in Australia, or one every 3 minutes
  • 20.3% of Australian homes have been burgled at some point
  • It takes 75% of burglars less than 5 minutes to enter a property

House Burglary Facts

Burglary is classified as any offence involving unlawfully entering a house or other building to steal property, usually at night; the statutory offence of entering a building as a trespasser (or without consent of the owner) with the intent to steal anything in the building.

From 2016 to 2017 an estimated 2.5% of Australian households experienced at least one break-in, but only 75% reported the incident to the police. Of the reported breakins, 74% of the households had property stolen and 49% of the households had property damaged. The offender/s confronted someone in 1 in 10 households that were broken into.

An estimated 2.1% of Australian households experienced at least one attempted break-in 2016-2017. Only 44% of households that experienced an attempted breakin reported the incident to the police. 22% of those that didn’t report to the police considered the incident too trivial/unimportant to report. 16% of the households believed there was nothing the police could do and therefore pointless to report.

47% of the households that experienced an attempted break-in reported damage to or tampering with doors or windows and 18% of the households saw or heard someone trying to break-in.

Australia vs Global

In 2015 Australia had the 5th highest rate of burglaries in the world. The four countries with higher rates of burglary than Australia in 2015 were all located in Europe and had much smaller populations.

Burglary rates per 100,000 people

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By state

In 2017 the Northern Territory had the highest percentage of break-ins vs population, at 5% of households, followed by Western Australia at 4.3% of households. South Australia had the lowest percentage of break-ins vs population at 1.9% of households. The Australian average for break-ins was 2.5% of all households.

State Percentage of population that had been broken into Number of break-ins
NSW 2% 57700
VIC 2.8% 65200
QLD 2% 37000
WA 4.3% 41700
SA 1.9% 13200
TAS 2% 4200
ACT 2.5% 3700
NT 5% 3200

NSW

1.5% of households in New South Wales had an attempted break-in, with a total of 43,400 incidents reported to local authorities.
New South Wales saw 25.5% of all burglaries that took place in Australia in 2017.

VIC

2.1% of households in Victoria had an attempted break-in, with a total of 48,600 incidents reported to local authorities.
Victoria saw 28.9% of all burglaries that took place in Australia in 2017.

QLD

2.2% of households in Queensland had an attempted break-in, with a total of 40,700 incidents reported to local authorities.
Queensland saw 16.4% of all burglaries that took place in Australia in 2017.

WA

3.7% of households in Western Australia had an attempted break-in, with a total of 36,400 incidents reported to local authorities.
Western Australia saw 18.5% of all burglaries that took place in Australia in 2017.

SA

2.3% of households in South Australia had an attempted break-in, with a total of 15,800 incidents reported to local authorities.
South Australia saw 5.8% of all burglaries that took place in Australia in 2017.

TAS

1.6% of households in Tasmania had an attempted break-in, with a total of 3,300 incidents reported to local authorities.
Tasmania saw 1.9% of all burglaries that took place in Australia in 2017.

ACT

The Australian Capital Territory saw 1.6% of all burglaries that took place in Australia in 2017.

NT

4% of households in the Northern Territory had an attempted break-in, with a total of 2,600 incidents reported to local authorities.
The Northern Territory saw 1.4% of all burglaries that took place in Australia in 2017.

Items stolen

An analysis of objects stolen in Australian burglaries revealed the top ten items most likely to be stolen. Changes in these items over a decade mirrored changes in technology and changes in what is considered to be ‘hot items’. Hot items refer to items that are valuable but also easy to dispose of or sell.

Rank Item
#1 Cash
#2 Laptops
#3 Jewlery
#4 Cameras
#5 Phones
#6 Wallets, handbags, purses
#7 Identification Documents
#8 Televisions
#9 Computer and video game equipment
#10 Watches

Ensuring that these kinds of items are either locked away in safes or secure locations when not in use help protect you from theft. If you are known to store cash and other valuables around the home, you can make yourself a target for multiple thefts. Burglars have been known to wait until you have replaced stolen items and then target your home for a second burglary.

Survey of DUMA (Drug Use Monitoring in Australia) detainees

Over the past decade Australia has seen a steady reduction in home burglaries year on year. In 2015 a study was conducted of police detainees found guilty of committing breaking and entering offenses to gain their insights on the current state of burglary in Australia.

Reasons for decrease in property crime

The detainees were asked to determine perceived potential causes for the decrease in property crime.

Participants could include more than one answer so the % may total more than 100%

  • Improved security - 31%
  • Other - 23%
  • Changes to policing - 20%
  • Increased affluence - 11%
  • Increased imprisonment - 10%
  • Changes in drug use - 7%
  • Changes in the market for stolen goods - 4%

Reasons for targeting a premise

The detainees identified two main areas of focus for targeting premises, a lack of activity around the property and the visibility/attractiveness of the property.

Lack of activity was indicated by:

  • Houses that appeared vacant or unoccupied
  • Rubbish bins left outside on the curb
  • No lights turned on inside the house in the evening
  • No vehicles parked in the driveway
  • An overflowing mailbox

Visibility/attraction was ascertained by:

  • Houses located in an affluent area
  • Houses that had an expensive car in the driveway
  • Any valuable items on display or in view either in the yard on from a door or window

Perceived mistakes from burglars

Participants were questioned on what they perceived to be mistakes that residents made that identified their homes as potential targets for burglary.

Participants could include more than one answer so the % may total more than 100%

  • Doors/windows left open - 70%
  • Minimal security - 40%
  • Easy to enter backyards - 25%
  • Detectable keys - 12%
  • False security systems - 8%
  • Environmental design - 5%
  • Skylights - 2%

Successful deterrents

The detained burglars were asked if the following factors would deter them from attempting to enter a property.

Participants could include more than one answer so the % may total more than 100%

  • A barking dog - 61.4%
  • A working alarm system - 49.1%
  • Sensor lights on the outside of the property - 22.8%
  • Lights on inside of the house - 19.3%
  • Grilled windows/doors - 19%
  • An unknown area - 14%
  • Visibility of the property from road - 14%
  • Gates - 12.3%

A lack of security measures around the property is one of the first thing burglars check for when selecting a target. Fake or poorly implemented security systems that could be easily disarmed were not counted as a successful deterrent.

Most common method of entry

When asked what their most common method of entry into a property was the respondents said the following.

Participants could include more than one answer so the % may total more than 100%

  • Through an unlocked door - 40%
  • Breaking a door or window - 35%
  • Through an unlocked window - 28%
  • Picking or breaking a lock - 20%
  • Other - 15%

Leaving doors and windows unlocked were the two preventable methods that burglars identified in the top four most common methods, with unlocked doors being the most common means of entry to a dwelling. As ¾ of burglars decide on committing their crime away from the site and then search for suitable targets, locking doors and windows can be the first means of discouraging burglars from selecting your house as a target.

Behaviours and attitudes

A survey conducted by Budget Direct Home Insurance ascertained the behaviours and attitudes of 1000 Australians regarding home security and burglary. The results revealed that the average Australian is taking unnecessary risks with their property and belongings and has a fairly lax attitude toward home security and insurance protection.

Risk taking

35% of people said that they regularly leave a spare key outside their property, with younger people having a higher tendency to leave a key outside than older people. Of those whose house had been broken into, they were more likely to leave spare keys outside.

Unless your key is hidden in a secure location, the usual hiding spots, underneath the doormat, under a pot plant or on the windowsill, are no longer a secure option. If you have a backup key within easy reach outside of your house, it might be time to consider other options, such as leaving your key with a trusted neighbour.

58.7% of people said that they regularly allowed couriers to leave packages in plain sight outside their property.

Anyone walking by on the street is capable of snatching your packages right off your doormat, no breaking and entering required. To prevent your packages from being stolen, choose the signed delivery option and collect your delivery from your local Post Office or alternatively, find a trusted friend or neighbour who can accept the package for you.

Home security

55% of those surveyed who had their homes being broken into said they don’t have a security system. 24.3% of the people who didn’t already have a security system then had a system installed in their home after their homes were broken into. Younger age groups were more reactive about installing home security after experiencing a breakin.

Only 29.6% of all Australian homes have working security systems installed. This could be attributed to the fact that 42.2% of people surveyed deemed home security was an unnecessary or unaffordable expense. 20% of respondents said home security was unnecessary as their neighbourhoods were safe.

While it certainly is true some neighbourhoods are affected by burglaries more heavily than others, no neighbourhood is completely free from danger. Experienced burglars are always looking for new neighbourhoods to target to ensure that they stay off police radars and aren’t linked to multiple crimes in the one area.

Owning a security system is not a 100% failsafe method of protecting your home from break-ins, it is a great deal safer than having fake cameras or nothing at all. Most criminals are familiar with the most popular ‘dummy’ units and won’t be put off by them. In the event a break-in occurs, the captured footage from your security system can provide evidence to police or an insurance company for a claim regarding contents insurance.

Deterrents

35.7% of people surveyed thought that fake security cameras were enough of a deterrent for burglars. Younger renters were more likely to believe a fake camera will deter burglars and 25% of people that owned an active home security system still believed that a fake camera was enough of a visual deterrent for burglars.

46.6% of people surveyed thought that a “guard dog on duty” sign would deter a burglar from targeting their home. It was predominantly younger people that believed having a “guard dog on duty” sign would deter burglars.

However the DUMA study found that unless burglars could see a more tangible indication that a dog lived on the property, a simple sign would not be enough to put them off. Burglars want to enter your property as quickly and quietly as possible and a barking dog is sure to disrupt these plans.

Homeowners vs Renters

Homeowners are 3 times more likely than renters to have a home security system installed at 21% verses 7.7%. Homeowners were also much more likely to have home and contents insurance than renters were, with 53% of homeowners versus 15.8% of renters.

Of the homeowners that didn’t have a home security system, 38.8% said the main reason for not having home security was because they couldn’t afford it or they thought it was an unnecessary expense. While 46.5% renters that didn’t have a home security system said their main reason for not having home security was because they couldn’t afford it or they thought it was an unnecessary expense. Renters were less likely than homeowners to leave spare keys to their property outside, eg. 13% of renters versus 21% of homeowners.

Home and Contents Insurance

69.4% of people surveyed had contents insurance, but 22% were not sure if their contents insurance would adequately cover their possessions in the event of theft. 67.2% of people thought that owning an active home security would affect the price of their home insurance.

While the costs associated with repairing the damage to your home affects homeowners more than renters, the costs of replacing the stolen contents is the same. Owning or renting, when it comes to theft, burglars don’t discriminate. Ensuring you have a safety net in case things go wrong can help you recover more quickly and lighten the burden of replacing your stolen items.

Tips for preventing burglary

The best advice for preventing burglars targeting and breaking into your home is to make sure everyone in the household understands the risks. That way everyone can ensure they lock all windows and doors when leaving the property, bring all valuables inside and maintain the appearance that the home is not vacant by bringing in the mail regularly and not leaving the bins out for extended periods of time. If you are going away, leave a light on inside the property and get a friend or trusted neighbour to bring in your mail and see that the bins are not left on the curbside. This way you can reduce the risk of your home being targeted by burglars looking for easy marks.

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