The UK's loneliest - and most vulnerable - homes

Burglar with crowbar breaking window

Is your home going to be lonely this Christmas? In fact, is it lonely for large portions of the year? A new study has revealed that houses across the UK are left empty for the equivalent of 51 days each a year. And burglars couldn't be happier.

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The research, from Churchill Home Insurance, found that the loneliest homes are in Sheffield - empty for 60 days a year. This is followed by London at 58 days a year. They also discovered that flats are left empty for longer than homes. Rented flats are empty for 74 days a year, and owned flats for 69 days.

Cities with the loneliest homes

At the other end of the spectrum is Plymouth, where homes are empty for just 36 days a year, and Norwich where they are empty for 41 days a year.

Cities with the least lonely homes

It's not that we're leaving town for weeks at a time: Churchill came up with the figures by calculating how long homes are empty each day, and adding them together to come up with the total number of days they are unoccupied during the year. The 51 days comes from the fact that homes are empty for an average of three hours a day.

Protect yourself

Dr Claire Nee, Psychologist at the University of Portsmouth said: "We're busier than ever with work and other commitments, especially at this festive time of year so it's not surprising that our homes are empty for part of the day. The key is to make sure that we leave our properties safely locked up so that we can go about our days without worrying about a break-in."

Unfortunately, it appears that we are falling short on this front. The researchers found that more than seven million UK adults have no security features to protect their homes - whether that's a burglar alarm, window locks or deadlocks.

People who rent their property rather than owning are even less likely to have taken precautions. Only 80% of those who rent a house have security measures, and only 70% of those who rent a flat do (compared to 91% and 87% of those who own the properties).

Some cities are particularly poor at installing security measures. The worst of all is Edinburgh, where 27% of houses are unprotected. This is followed by Glasgow at 20%, Birmingham at 18% and Southampton at 17%.

Martin Scott, head of Churchill home insurance said: "Protecting your home is essential all year round, but the longer and darker nights can provide cover for a home intrusion. Unfortunately, Christmas is a prime time for burglars as they know properties are left unoccupied and there are more high value items in the home than usual. With so much going on, home security can be easily forgotten but we urge people to stay vigilant and protect themselves and their properties this Christmas."

"Simple measures like double locking doors and windows, setting the security alarm whenever the property is empty, making the home look occupied and keeping valuables out of sight can make a big difference and ensure it's not the burglars who are having a Merry Christmas!"

Top 10 burglary hotspots
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Top 10 burglary hotspots

Ed Miliband is pictured in Ilford, on the outskirts of this troubled area.

Burglary is a top policing priority for IG3 - which also has related issues with drug use and anti-social behaviour.

Opportunistic crime has been identified as a particular threat, and police are hoping to reduce the number of offences largely by getting people to improve security and reduce the number of opportunities.

Cockfosters has changed a bit since this 1950s photo. Nowadays burglary is such a problem that local police have made this their top priority .

They are aware that a number of known offenders continue to operate in the area, and that opportunistic crime is rife. As a result they have beefed up patrols.

This part of West Yorkshire, on the outskirts of Bradford, seems quiet, but has seen an unusual number of burglaries.

Police insist that the number of burglaries in the area is falling, but add that a few prolific burglars in the past have affected the figures.

Distraction burglaries are a particular problem here, where homeowners are targeted by criminals who talk their way into a property, and then distract the homeowner while they steal valuable belongings. The victims in these cases tend to be elderly and vulnerable.

This is another busy postcode in East London, with a high turnover of residents, making it easy for burglars to operate.

It is among Britain's less affluent areas, with problems with street crime and anti-social behaviour, and opportunistic burglars are known to operate locally.

Burglary has recently been identified as a priority crime in this part of Doncaster, along with spots of anti social behaviour and problems linked with drug use.

The police are working to encourage better security measures to combat professional burglaries targeting the most vulnerable homes.

This is a very diverse area, with the posher streets proving rich pickings for career burglars. The postcode area is also home to some areas of real deprivation, and within one of the estates in particular there is a real problem with crime.

It's also on the doorstep of Stretford - where Katie Price once tried her hand at politics

The former home of West Ham's Bobby Moore (pictured moving in) is another high placing on this list for East London.

It’s a busy area, with a reasonably high turnover of residents, making it easy for burglars to pass undetected.

One recent trend has been the targeting of Asian families for their family jewellery. Police are now suggesting that anyone with valuables like this at home should invest in a home safe - and improve the overall security of their property

East of London, and home to the famous Ford plant, is the nation’s overall burglary claim hotspot.

Theft has been a long-term problem in the area, and police say it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly why. They suggest a number of career criminals, ineffective security, and people storing valuables at home could be contributory factors.


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