Home robbery and housebreaking are among the most frightening and dangerous crimes to experience. It is frightening because it violates our private space and the one place that we think of as our sanctuary.
According to the latest report released by Statistics South Africa, Exploring the extent of and circumstances surrounding housebreaking/burglary and home robbery, the general crime rate in terms of the proportion of households that experience crime has been declining during the last five years.
This reality, however, has not quelled the growing perception that crime is on the increase in South Africa, the stats body said.
Over 50% of all crimes experienced by households in South Africa in 2015/16 were housebreaking. Home robbery (11.9%) was the second most common type of crime experienced by South African households.
Whites had the highest rates of victimisation compared to other groups both in 2011 and 2015/16.
However, whites experienced the sharpest decline of household related crimes during the five years, from 17% to 12% of households.
“Home robbery” is regarded as a violent crime because people are at home when it takes place, as compared to “housebreaking” (burglary), which occurs when the family is away from home. Home robbery fuels fear in communities because it puts people at risk of personal injury and emotional trauma in their homes, where they should feel safest.
Housebreaking and home robbery peaked during the months of March and June in both 2014/15 and 2015/16.
The months during which these crimes were least likely to occur were January, May and November. As found in previous Victims of Crime Surveys, night-time is still the most preferred time for crime incidents, StatsSA said.
Knowing the low and high periods of the year for crime activity and times of the day when crime is likely to happen may be useful in planning security strategies for households, and
for planning deployment of resources on the part of the police, StatsSA said.
Respondents who experienced housebreaking and those who experienced home robbery were asked about the time that the crime took place–whether it was in the morning, afternoon or at night.
The option “Don’t know” was also given to the respondents in case they did not know the time when the crime incident happened.
Electrical equipment were the most targeted items during both housebreakings and home robberies. Jewellery, money and cellphones were the second most common items stolen after electrical equipment during both housebreakings and home robberies.
According to the report, the rate of reporting home robberies to the police was significantly higher than that of housebreaking; possibly because home robbery tends to be accompanied with violence.
However, the rates for the arrest of the alleged offenders in housebreakings
and home robberies are not significantly different –both stand at just over 18%.
The conviction rate among those arrested was 14.3% for housebreaking and 22% for home robbery. Among those arrested for housebreaking, the case was still ongoing in 9.2% of the cases for housebreaking and 14.8% of the cases for home robbery.
An arrest is made in only one out of every five reported cases of housebreaking or home robbery. Only one in five people arrested for housebreaking was convicted, and one in three people arrested for home robbery was convicted.