More than 1,000 break-ins took place in Northern Ireland during lockdown, with Belfast the worst affected area, new crime figures reveal.
Despite the fact that most people were working from home and providing something of a deterrent, between April and June 1,029 burglaries still occurred — an average of 343 a month.
The statistics were compiled from leading crime data research and analysis platform, UK CrimeStats.
They show Northern Ireland still had one of the lowest burglary rates in the UK, with just 2.75 per 1,000 people reported during the period.
This contrasts with the worst area — South Yorkshire — with a rate of 10.29 per 1,000 people.
Between July 2018 and June 2019 there were 5,990 burglaries of residential properties reported here.
This dropped by 8.9% to a total of 5,457 from July 2019 to June 2020.
Broken down by council area, Belfast had the highest crime figures between July 2019 and June 2020.
Mid Ulster had the lowest crime rate.
In Belfast there were 1,655 burglaries, 989 incidents of vehicle crime and 407 bicycle thefts.
With a population in the council area of 282,532, this equated to 5.8 burglaries per 1,000 people.
Commenting on the figures, CompareNI.com car insurance website founder Greg Wilson said: “It won’t come as a surprise to learn that 2020 has seen a significant fall in the number of burglaries, with the lockdown and working from home serving as a significant deterrent.
“But it is also very encouraging that Northern Ireland, lockdown aside, is in the top three safest places in the UK. However, the fact that 1,029 burglaries still occurred during lockdown (April-June 2020), even when Stormont’s most stringent quarantine measures were in place, highlights that break-ins remain a very real risk for homeowners and tenants alike.”
He urged homeowners to remain vigilant and not to forego insurance despite being in their dwellings more often.
“Remember to always double check doors and windows are locked when leaving your property or going to bed, set security alarms when necessary, keep valuables out of sight, apply light timers when off on holiday to make it seem like the property is occupied, and ask anyone entering your house for professional reasons for ID,” he said.
Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said while he welcomed any reduction in burglary, the figures had been collated by a commercial organisation and are not official PSNI statistics.
“Tackling burglary remains a priority for us and we are committed to working with local communities and police and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSP) in a bid to reduce incidents and keep people safe,” he added.