Rural homeowners underestimate crime risks

Nia Williams

December 22, 2009

The Halifax Home Insurance ‘Latch-Key Index’, released for the first time today, reveals that millions of countryside dwellers are not taking adequate steps to protect their homes.

Almost a third of rural households – about 3.5 million people – give burglars an easy time by leaving their doors unlocked most days, compared to just one in 10 urbanites.

What’s more, over eight million of Britain’s rural residents don’t use a burglar alarm (70%) – with many of these homeowners (11%) saying they ‘don’t see the point’ of having one’.

This overconfidence is related to rural resident’s trusting nature – 56% of rural dwellers trust a friend or neighbour to check on the property when they’re away, compared to just 43% in urban areas.

However, with countryside crime rising at twice the rate of urban crime, the home insurer is calling on rural homeowners to take simple steps to make burglar’s lives harder and protect themselves against crime.

In the last 12 months, one in eight country dwellers was a victim of crime (13%) – with vandalism (39%) and burglary (13%) among the most common incidents. Furthermore, cases of burglary rise by 30% during the festive period, as criminals target homes full of Christmas gifts. The cost to the homeowner is also greater during this time of year, with presents increasing homeowner’s losses by around £520 to an average of £2,680.

Yet awareness in the countryside remains low, with a third of countryside residents believing that it’s unlikely that they’ll be burgled (33%) and a similar number oblivious to the rate at which rural crime is growing (29%).

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