Situational crime prevention works; or why burglary rates dropped less steeply in Germany than in The Netherlands

Prof. Dr. Jan van Dijk
Tilburg University

This paper addresses the issue whether countries with a higher penetration of household security in a given year are rewarded by lower burglary rates in the years ahead. The repeats of the International Crime Victim Surveys (ICVS) in 2005 and 2010 allows us to explore this issue empirically. In 2005 and 2010 the ICVS was repeated in eight Western nations, Canada, Denmark, England/Wales, Estonia, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland (Van Dijk, 2012). These eight nations, however similar in many other respects, show considerable variation in the penetration of household security in 2005 (measured as the percentages of households covered by burglar alarms and/or special security locks). The results show that trends in burglary victimization between 2005 and 2010 have been widely diverging. In England/Wales, The Netherlands and Canada rates have fallen, in Germany and Sweden rates remained more or less stable and in Estonia, Denmark and Switzerland they went up. During this period rates of burglary victimization went down in countries with the highest penetration of home security and remained more or less stable or went up in countries with a lower penetration. These results suggest that the active promotion of household security by the national governments in Britain and The Netherlands has enhanced general welfare and that the populations of Germany, Sweden, Estonia, Switzerland and Denmark are paying the price for their government’s policies of laissez faire on the security market.

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