Convicted burglars admit that addiction drives crime

28th January 2015

  • New research commissioned by home insurer Churchill
  • Study of UK burglars highlights the causal relationship between drug addiction and crime
  • Leading Professor of Criminology, Professor Martin Gill, interviewed burglars to highlight their motivations and to identify solutions to reduce offending rates
  • Additional warning for ebay sellers as burglar explains he was commissioned to retrieve listed items

New research1 published by Churchill Home Insurance reveals burglars themselves articulating a direct link between drug addiction and burglary in the UK. In a series of qualitative interviews conducted on behalf of the insurer, criminals state that burglaries are often driven by drug addiction.

One of the subjects stated "Any time I committed [a burglary] it was because I was desperate for drugs," another commented "I found burglary easy…I was addicted to drugs but crime is an addiction as well."

The interviews reveal that the major motivation for burglars to commit these crimes was because of the need to feed a drug habit. Burglars also claim they were attracted by the ease of the crime, greed and because it is lucrative, but seen as low risk.

Disturbing excerpts from interviews highlight the 'kick' burglars got out of the crime "It was the buzz, the money," "I just liked the buzz of it," one stated he enjoyed "the kick you get, the thrill of the chase."

The perceived ease of burglary came through time and again in the interviews, with burglars stating the crime provided "quick easy money," and "a way to get money quickly".

The research also asked burglars what homeowners could do to deter burglars. Many of the responses included basic practical security measures such as "get lights that come on when you go near," "neighbourhood watch sticker(s)" and "monitored alarms." Canines were a particular deterrent for burglars with statements such as "get a dog," and "even a little dog making a noise will put you off." People were also warned about allowing eBay shoppers to visit their home. One criminal stated "People will see something they like on eBay. Go round to have a look at it so you have the address, say they don't want it, and then go get someone like me to get it for them."

Insight into how people can deter burglars

  1. Properties with dogs
  2. Monitored alarms
  3. Security cameras
  4. Removing valuables visible from the road
  5. Neighbourhood watch stickers
  6. SmartWater on technology/portable items
  7. Upstairs lights on a timer
  8. Not allowing fliers/papers/post to mount up
  9. Drawing the curtains
  10. Locking the doors when at home

Source: Churchill Home Insurance

The research from Churchill Home Insurance brings to light that burglary is perceived by the criminals interviewed as a lower risk crime than shoplifting. Burglars stated "It is easier than shoplifting," "You could get more if you go 'burglaring' rather than shoplifting." Shoplifting was seen as a riskier crime because of "guards and cameras."

Martin Scott, head of Churchill Home Insurance, stated: "Burglary can be one of the most invasive and distressing crimes for the victim, as they feel their home has been violated. We commissioned this research to glean new insights from offenders to help understand the motivations for these crimes and potential solutions to reduce reoffending rates. The research suggests that investing in effective drug treatments for those suffering from addiction could help reduce offending rates and the societal burden associated with this habit."

Researchers questioned burglars on how they believed burglary could be reduced. The subjects believed reduction strategies should focus on tackling the root cause of the crime, principally drug addiction, offering better support to those leaving prison and the need for the public to be more security conscious. Burglars stated "If they didn't need money for drugs, they would not commit crime".

Professor Martin Gill, Director of Perpetuity Research: "Rarely are offenders views sought when analysing the causes of crime. Offenders can provide valuable insights into how offences are conducted, how crimes like burglary might be prevented and their impact reduced. The research confirms again that there are practical measures that householders can and should take to reduce the risk of burglary: let's not make it easy for them."

Notes to editors:

  • 1 Findings based on qualitative interviews with fifteen convicted burglars by Perpetuity Research led by Professor Martin Gill of between September - October 2014

For further information

Kia McLean
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Tel: 0207 282 1092

Claire Foster
Churchill PR Manager
Tel: 0165 183 1672
Mob: 07900 217 264


Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK’s leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0300 200300 or visiting