London has been crowned the burglary capital of the UK. It is home to 12 of the 20 places you are most likely to have to make an insurance claim for burglary. Other major risk areas include Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool.
So where are the most dangerous spots, why, and what can we do to protect ourselves?
Danger zonesMoneysupermarket analysed the 3.1 million home insurance quote requests they have received over the last year, particularly the bit where people are asked if they have made a claim previously. It used that to identify the areas where the most claims had been made.
The postcode with the most claims was actually outside the capital. M21, the Manchester postal district that includes suburban Chorlton-cum-Hardy and Barlow Moor, tops the list for overall burglary claims.
However, it is London that dominates the postcode districts most likely to have made a claim for theft or burglary, taking 12 of the top 20 postcodes. North London's sought-after leafy suburbs of Muswell Hill (N10), East Finchley and Hampstead Garden Suburb (both N2) are rife for burglary claims.
Why?These areas have a few things in common. Many of them are nice areas, which attract would-be-thieves because they know there are valuables behind the locked doors. Many of them are also in commuter areas, where people will be gone for much of the day. And many of them have the right combination of being densely packed enough to easily roam around looking for opportunities - and leafy enough to do so undetected.
Kevin Pratt, home insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: "Thieves often target areas with wealthy residents and desirable properties where the rewards are potentially greater or quieter areas where they think there is less risk of being caught red-handed."
CostEven if you are not targeted, you will pay for the added risk in your area. On average, householders living in higher risk postcodes will pay 24% more for their cover, compared to the national average – or an extra £36 a year.
Pratt added: "Higher value properties could expect to pay even more than this. If you have not previously been burgled, but there are higher rates of burglary claims made within your postal district, you are likely to be paying steeper premiums as a result. Insurers often take a blanket approach to assessing postcode districts for home insurance premiums rather than looking at insurance applications on a case by case basis."
The top 20 was revealed as:1. M21 Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Barlow Moor in Manchester
2. SE24 Herne Hill, Tulse Hill (part)
3. N10 Muswell Hill
4. RM8 Dagenham, Becontree, Becontree Heath
5. N2 East Finchley, Fortis Green, Hampstead Garden Suburb (part)
6. L18 Allerton, Mossley Hill in Liverpool
7. L22 Waterloo in Liverpool
8. N18 Upper Edmonton, Edmonton (part)
9. UB6 Greenford, Perivale
10. SE27 West Norwood, Gipsy Hill (part)
11. B73 Boldmere, New Oscott, Wylde Green in Birmingham
12. E8 Hackney Central, Dalston, London Fields
13. DN2 Intake, Wheatley, Wheatley Hills in Doncaster
14. N20 Whetstone, Totteridge, Oakleigh Park
15. E9 Homerton, Hackney Wick, South Hackney, Hackney Marshes, Victoria Park
16. N11 New Southgate, Friern Barnet, Bounds Green, Arnos Grove (part)
17. N16 Stoke Newington, Stamford Hill (part), Shacklewell, Dalston (part), Newington Green (part)
18. LS16 Adel, Bramhope, Cookridge, Eccup, Far Headingley, Holt Park, Ireland Wood, Lawnswood, Moor Grange, Tinshill, Weetwood, West Park in Leeds
19. B24 Erdington, Tyburn in Birmingham
20. High Wycombe, Flackwell Heath, Handy Cross, Hedsor, Loudwater, Penn, Tylers Green, Wooburn, Wooburn Green, Wooburn Moor in Buckinghamshire
They make a sharp contrast with the areas which are least likely to have been burgled.
The top five are:
1. RG24 Popley, Chineham, Sherborne St John in Hampshire
2. EX39 Bideford, Lundy Island in Devon
3. YO25 Driffield in East Riding
4. BT28 Lisburn, Ballinderry Lower, Ballinderry Upper, Stoneyford in County Antrim
5. PL9 Plymstock, Heybrook Bay, Mount Batten, Wembury in Plymouth
What can you do?Whether we are in a high-risk area or not, there are some things we can all do to protect ourselves.
Jim Maddan, Chairman for the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network for England and Wales, said: "It's always worth investing in security measures for your home – the majority of burglaries are opportunistic and criminals will often simply choose the easiest-looking target. Belonging to a Neighbourhood Watch or Home Watch scheme has also been proven to reduce your chances of getting burgled. If you're not sure whether there's a scheme in your area, check www.ourwatch.org.uk to find out. There are also plenty of resources on the site about setting up your own scheme if you don't have one on your street."
"Something as simple as being on speaking terms with your neighbours and passing the time of day could mean that they notice when something is wrong – or it might be you who notices something is amiss and saves your neighbour from misfortune! Crime does not flourish in communities where people care about each other."
MoneySuperMarket adds that there are some basics that we should always be doing: keep doors and windows locked when you're asleep, or your home is unoccupied; install timers on your lights to come on when you are not home; ensure items of value are kept away from easy view through windows; install a suitable alarm system; and ensure your home contents insurance is fully up to date and is at a high enough level to cover all your belongings sufficiently.