What works to prevent domestic burglaries?

Domestic burglary

Since 2019, the European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN) and several European countries have organised the EU-wide Focus Day on domestic burglary. The aim of this initiative is to step up the fight against this type of crime by informing citizens how they can protect their homes. This type of crime has been decreasing for many years in most European countries, but it still accounts for the majority of Organised Property Crime offences. Besides, it not only robs people of their possessions but also of their sense of security at home and it has a significant financial impact on society.

This paper aims to support European, national and local stakeholders by providing an overview of the initiatives which may, or may not, be successful in preventing domestic burglaries. All initiatives have been grouped in three categories: namely those for which strong evidence, moderate evidence or limited evidence is available. When labelling an initiative as having ‘strong evidence’, it means that several studies have consistently shown a reduction in the number of domestic burglaries, such as the one that was found to occur following target hardening by employing a combination of window locks, internal lights, door locks and external lights. Initiatives with the ‘moderate evidence’ label are those for which a limited number of studies have shown a promising impact in terms of crime reduction, such as property marking. However, more research is needed for this to be labelled ‘strong evidence’. Others, such as intruder alarm systems, have shown contradictory results or have not been evaluated properly yet but contain some characteristics that seem promising and deserve more attention. Finally, we would like to emphasise that lessons learned during implementation and the specific context should always be taken into account when policy makers and practitioners develop their own domestic burglary prevention strategies.