Policing: Burglars profit from muddle

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The Independent Online
Police efforts to catch burglars are often ineffectual and muddled, with fewer than 6 per cent of offenders convicted for their crimes, according to the Home Office. A study of practices in the West Midlands suggests the success rate could be dramatically improved if officers responded more quickly to 999 calls. Researchers examined a sample of 704 burglaries in 1994.

Only one in 10 burglars reported to the police while breaking into a house were caught. Stolen property was only recovered in 7 per cent of cases.

Of the 6 per cent caught and convicted, more than 40 per cent were arrested at the scene of the crime and a third from questioning witnesses. A further quarter of the total was expected to be "cleared up" via confessions from convicted criminals.

Solving Residential Burglary, Home Office Police Research Group, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AT.