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About this release This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 09 May 2013 Download PDF

Key Points

  • The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) shows substantial falls in property crime, with levels having fallen by half since they peaked in the mid-1990s. These were driven by large reductions in high volume crimes such as vandalism, vehicle-related theft and burglary. While these high volume crime types continue to show falls, in contrast recent trends show increases in the lower volume personal theft offences such as theft from the person recorded by the police.

  • Recent increases in personal theft offences may reflect a range of factors including thieves focusing on high cost portable items such as mobile phones or tablet computers which are difficult to secure against theft and increasingly widely used. According to the 2011/12 CSEW almost half (46%) of theft from the person and robbery incidents involved theft of a mobile phone compared with just under a third (31%) in the 2010/11 survey.

  • According to the 2011/12 CSEW, around 2% of mobile phone owners experienced a phone theft in the previous 12 months. This proportion has been broadly consistent since 2005/06 (when the survey question was first introduced). However, due to the increase in mobile phone ownership over this period, the number of victims of mobile phone theft incidents has actually increased.

  • Mobile phone theft victims were most likely to be children aged 14 to 17 or young adults aged 18 to 24 years with the victimisation rate of these groups being twice as high as the average (4% compared with 2%).

  • Characteristics that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of victimisation varied by property crime type. For example, for both vehicle-related theft and theft from the person, younger adults were more likely to have been victims. The characteristic that contributed most to explaining the likelihood of being a victim of burglary was the level of home security; those households with less security measures in place were more likely to fall victim. Households in urban areas were also more likely to be victims of burglary than those in rural areas.

  • While we have seen substantial falls across many of the conventional property crime types over the last 10 to 20 years, some newer forms of crime have emerged. Based on the 2011/12 CSEW 4.7% of plastic card owners were victims of plastic card fraud in the last year; significantly higher than the more established acquisitive offences such as theft from the person and other theft of personal property (1.3% and 2.1% respectively). Trends in plastic card fraud in the CSEW shows rises in the proportion of card owners who were victims of fraud between the 2005/06 and 2008/09 surveys, with rates of victimisation subsequently falling.

  • The pattern of plastic card fraud victimisation by age shows a peak in the middle age groups, with lower rates of victimisation in the youngest and oldest age groups. Those in households with higher incomes and those in managerial and professional occupations were more likely to fall victim of plastic card fraud. This is in contrast to more conventional crimes like burglary, where likelihood of victimisation is typically higher among younger age groups and adults not in employment, and among households with lower incomes.

  • Over half (56%) of adults in England and Wales had received an unsolicited mass marketing fraud communication in the previous 12 months. While this shows that a relatively large proportion of adults were potentially exposed to becoming a victim of this type of fraud, only a very small percentage actually fell victim (less than 1% of those who received such a communication).


This release is a collaboration between ONS and Home Office analysts. It explores a variety of official statistics on property crime and is primarily based on crimes recorded by the police in the year ending March 2012 and interviews carried out over the same period on the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). Trend analysis from both sources is also included.

Much of the content updates analysis presented in the acquisitive crime sections of Crime in England and Wales 2010/11, Crime in England and Wales 2009/10 and previous publications Acquisitive crime and plastic card fraud 2008/09 and Home security, mobile phone theft and stolen goods 2007/08.

This release is split into four sections, each covering a different aspect of property crime. The first section provides an overview of all property crime, summarising long term trends and exploring patterns in the circumstances of property crimes using the Nature of crime and Demographic tables from the 2011/12 CSEW. This section also uses logistic regression analysis to determine which individual and household characteristics are most associated with being a victim of property crime. 

The second section presents more detailed analyses of mobile phone theft which covers trends in mobile phone theft and the personal characteristics of victims, trends in the number of incidents of mobile phone theft for different offence types, the nature of mobile phone theft incidents and children’s safety behaviours with mobile phones.

The third section presents findings on plastic card fraud, summarising the extent and trends of plastic card owners and victimisation, victim’s personal and household characteristics, measures taken to avoid victimisation and adult’s perception and worry levels about plastic card fraud.

The final section presents analysis of CSEW data on mass marketing fraud which looks at the percentage of adults who were targeted with unsolicited mass marketing communications, the most common type of communication,  the recipient’s personal and household characteristics and if any adults responded to the unsolicited communication.

The Data sources – further information section and User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales give more details on each of the sources used in this release.

Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

    • meet identified user needs;
    • are well explained and readily accessible;
    • are produced according to sound methods; and
    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

    Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

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