Burglars come out when clocks go back

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WEST YORKSHIRE saw burglaries increase by around a third in the week when the clocks went back last October compared to the weekly average for the rest of 2010, according to new figures.

Burglaries rose by 26% on a national level in the week surrounding last October’s clock change, according to the figures collated by insurer Aviva using freedom of information requests to 16 UK police forces.

The highest increase was in Strathclyde, where police saw a rise of 57% in reported burglaries between October 30 and November 5, compared with the weekly average for the rest of the year.

The second worst-affected area was Northampton with 53% followed by South Wales, with a 45% rise in break-ins.

A spokesman for Aviva said the statistics are supported by 10 years of claims data which show a 28% increase in burglary claims on Bonfire Night, making it the worst night of the year for break-ins.

Commenting on the figures, criminologist Professor David Wilson of Birmingham City University, said: “Clearly when the clocks go back, it gets darker earlier and darkness provides a number of opportunities to the offender.

“Most obviously, he is more difficult to personally identify and the importance of this was underscored by all those pictures of young men covering their faces during the August riots.

“The darkness also hides their criminal intentions - in other words, they do not look suspicious to those who might be walking about and who provide a form of ‘natural surveillance’.

“Some householders may have forgotten to leave a light on in their homes - their houses would be in darkness - which signals that there is no one home and therefore the house is easier to enter.

“The key thing here is the idea of opportunity, and therefore the message to the householder is to cut those opportunities down by taking some obvious safety precautions.”