Young professionals, people who have recently moved into rented accommodation, and those in neighbourhoods with many young people, single parents or households without cars, are those most likely to become victims of crime, according to research published today.
But the single most important factor for predicting which home will be targeted by criminals is whether it has already been a victim. Even in a "safe" area, the probability of being a victim of crime increases sharply after the first incident.
Researchers at Manchester University found that households with a 5 per cent probability of being victimised have a 29 per cent risk of being targeted again within a year, and if the initial probability of an offence was 40 per cent, the likelihood of repeat victimisation is 55 per cent.
The study, carried out by a team from the university's quantitative criminology group, found that in areas with the highest incidence of property crime, half of the households were never victims. In these areas the crime figures were inflated by homes which had been the subject of four crimes on average.
Alan Trickett, one of the authors of the study, published in the Economic and Social Research Council annual report, said: "Once you have been victimised it has stunning consequences for crime prevention. Our results indicate that the police and crime prevention initiatives in general should concentrate on existing victims."
He added: "Far from being independent random events, victimisations are concentrated on previous victims."
Ed Bell, of the Loss Prevention Council, said: "The statistics clearly show that repeat victimisation is a major issue.