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Burglars steal brands 'to order' in new crime-wave

Press release: 25/05/2012

  • One in 20 burglaries were carried out to steal designer branded goods 'to order' last year
  • Convicted thieves say stealing goods ‘to order’ has significantly increased in the past five years
  • Apple, Samsung and Sony are the most commonly demanded brands
  • One in four (24%) Brits admit they would buy stolen goods if the price was right

A growing number of burglars are stealing brands 'to order' and using shops and auction websites to sell illegal goods.

According to research by criminologists for home insurer LV=, one in 20 (5%) burglaries committed last year were carried out by criminals who steal specific brands 'to order'. The research, which involved interviews with burglary victims and convicted thieves, revealed that this trend has significantly increased in the past five years.

Apple, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft and Dell are the brands most commonly 'ordered' as items made by these manufacturers can be sold on easily for a large proportion of the retail price. The average 'going' rate on the black-market for popular items by these manufacturers are £345 for a stolen iPhone, £210 for an iPad and £160 for a games console – around half the cost of buying them new from an official retail outlet. Government statistics show burglaries increased by 14% last year, from 651,000 to 745,000 in 2011, with victims losing £1,400 worth of belongings on average. Small electronic goods are the most commonly stolen items.

Auction websites have helped expand the marketplace for stolen goods with most of the thieves who took part in the research saying they use auction websites to sell stolen goods. One burglar commented: "Almost everyone I know sells moody (stolen) stuff online. Just get a photo from the internet and put it up. Wait ‘till the orders come in and then go out and get it." Although most online auction sites have strict rules prohibiting sellers from using them to sell stolen goods, many thieves say they get round this by having multiple seller identities.

As well as online auctions, modern thieves say they take orders from more traditional sources including markets and car boot sales, as well as some convenience stores who take 'under the counter' orders from customers in the know. One burglar said he worked with a contact at a phone unlocking stall in a shopping centre who takes orders 'off the street' from willing buyers.

When selecting properties to target, the research found that burglars look for affluent neighbourhoods where there is likely to be a concentration of high value electrical items. They look for properties which are unoccupied and can be accessed easily without anyone seeing them. Burglars look to see if the goods they want are on display but also look through the bins for discarded packaging and receipts, as this will often reveal what is inside the home.

As well as electrical goods, modern thieves also seek out high value fashion brands. Mui Mui and Prada are the most common handbag brands that are ordered, as these can usually be bought for around a third of the cost of buying them new from an official outlet. Designer perfumes and toiletries are also highly desirable and thieves say they mainly seek out Chanel branded products, which can fetch around 23% of the official retail price.

Although handling stolen goods is a punishable offence, which can result in a custodial sentence, those who want the latest must-have brands at a fraction of the retail price are driving the trend. One in four (24%) Brits say they would turn a blind eye and buy stolen goods if the price was right. And in the past 12 months alone close to one in three (29%) adults have come across suspected stolen items for sale at a market, pub (22%) or auction website (21%).

LV= home insurance is today urging people to take great care of their valuables, keeping them out of sight and disposing of receipts and packaging carefully to avoid falling victim to theft. Those looking to buy second hand electrical goods should check whether the seller is an authorised dealer and think twice before buying items that may be stolen.

John O'Roarke, Managing Director of LV= home insurance, said "It is not surprising that thieves are focusing on electronic gadgets, which can be easily concealed, transported and quickly sold on. Our own theft claims data shows a shift in recent years from larger electronic goods, such as TVs, to smaller electronic items - although the overall monetary value is the same. Legitimate owners must take care not to fall victim to theft by leaving goods in view from the outside of their home and should take care to dispose of receipts and packaging properly."



Top ‘steal to order’ target items

Rank

Most common stolen to order items

Most common stolen to order brands

1

iPad (or other tablet computers)

Apple

2

iPhones (or other smartphones)

Apple & Samsung

3

Laptops / computers

Apple, Sony & Dell

4

Games consoles (e.g. xBox)

Microsoft

5

Kindle (or other eReader)

Amazon

6

Debit/credit cards

n/a

7

Jewellery

n/a

8

Clothing (designer brands)

Miu Miu, Prada

9

Toiletries / perfume

Chanel

10

Power tools

DeWalt

11

Cameras

Canon DSLRs

12

Blu-ray players

Sony & Samsung

13

Video cameras

Canon & Sony

14

Alcohol

n/a

15

iPod (or other MP3 players)

Apple

16

Televisions

Samsung & Sony

17

Domestic appliances

Dyson

18

Bicycles

n/a

19

Car keys / car

n/a


Top resale percentage for ‘steal to order’ items

Rank

Item

Resale value*

Percentage**

1

iPad

£210

63%

2

Games consoles

£160

55%

3

iPhones (or other smartphones)

£345

49%

4

Jewellery

variable

40%

5

Kindle (or other eReader)

£30

34%

6

Alcohol

£10

33%

7

Televisions

£100

33%

8

Clothing

variable

30%

9

Power tools

£85

30%

10

Blu-ray players

£20

25%

11

Domestic appliances

£80

25%

12

Toiletries/perfume

£7

23%

13

iPod (or other MP3 players)

£20

20%

14

Bicycles

£40

20%

15

Cameras

£45

17%

*Figures are based on the expected resale value of a 'typical' and like-for-like item as commented upon by participants when questioned. Participants expect to realise higher figures from individual purchasers than regular 'fences'. Figures are indicative only and based on the responses from interviewees.
**Resale percentages are based on a typical recommended retail price of a 'standard specification' item.

Note to editors

The research involved a telephone interview with 200 burglary victims and qualitative interviews with fifteen convicted thieves awaiting sentencing. It was carried out between February 2012 and April 2012. Additional verbatim commentary from the research is available on request.

Consumer research was undertaken by ICM. Total sample size was 2004 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23 February – 24 February 2012 and was carried out online. The ICM figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

The data relating to perpetrators is primarily qualitative in nature. It was elicited by means of semi-structured interviews lasting up to an hour with a range of individuals who have been involved with burglary. The participants were gathered via snowball sampling from a variety of different initial contacts. These contacts came primarily from the criminal justice system using a gatekeeper familiar with the particular criminal activities considered in this study and who facilitated access to other participants. Participants received no payment or other incentive for their participation.


About LV=

LV= employs over 5000 people and serves around five million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF. www.LV.com.