COMMENT: Any tool to tackle crime should be applauded

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Burglary is something every householder fears on a number of fronts. Firstly, coming face to face with the person who has entered your home, the fact that some of your prized possessions which are not necessarily financially valuable have been taken, but just as importantly, the longer term affects that someone has violated your ‘castle’.  

Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in the last decade and now the University of Portsmouth has been using virtual technology in a bid to tackle crime after carrying out pioneering research.

Today as the police are more stretched than they have ever been which can be seen as a green light for the burglar, the university has placed more than 100 criminals including 56 convicted burglars into a virtual reality neighbourhood and analysed their behaviour as to which properties they would target and why.

The findings were relatively predictable and showed that those who have burgled before took a very different approach to where and how they would burgle than a group of non criminals.

Those ‘experienced’ burglars gave an insight into what they look for when targeting a particular property – what cars are in the driveway can often lead the burglar to imagine the type of possessions the inhabitants have. They would look to take light weight high value items that would be easy to get out of a property and easier to move on rather than the bigger bulkier items.

So what does this research show us and what can we learn.

From the results much of the things we can put in place to deter a break-in is common sense – leave valuable items out of sight, lock up and use a timer on lights or a radio if we are away.

The vast majority of burglaries are non-violent – which is of little comfort to victims – but the invasion of your privacy takes such a long time to come to terms with.