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What’s ‘outside inside’ crime and are you at risk?

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04/09/2019
If you live in a flat with a communal storage area, are you confident your property is insured?
What’s ‘outside inside’ crime and are you at risk?

If you live in a block of flats or a converted house you probably have communal areas, where you can store belongings.

But theft from these ‘inside outside’ areas is rising, according to Direct Line.

The insurance firm has seen a two-thirds increase in bike theft from communal areas in blocks of flats since 2016, with criminals avoiding breaking into individual properties.

Over 4,300 bikes have been stolen from communal areas since 2016, an average of four every day.

Common storage risk

Of the 13.6 million people living in flats, 10.7 million (79 per cent) have some form of communal area in their building like a lobby, underground garage or storage areas that are often used to store large items, such as bikes, either too big to keep in the flat or impractical to keep taking up and down stairs.

These areas are often easily accessed by residents and non-residents and as a result many of those who store large items in these spaces have had them stolen or damaged, said Direct Line.

Over three million people (six per cent of the population) have had a bike stored in a communal area in their building either damaged or stolen, with the estimated resulting loss or damage costing £337 per bike.

Regional risks

London accounts for the greatest proportion of bike thefts from communal areas, with a fifth (20 per cent) of incidents taking place in the capital over the past three years.

This is followed by the South East (18 per cent), East of England (15 per cent) and South West (nine per cent).

At the other end of the scale, the North East and Wales both account for just two per cent of bike theft claims from communal areas in the same period.

Are you insured?

Despite the popularity of using communal areas for storage and the number of people who have experienced problems, many do not have insurance to cover their belongings, with nearly a third (29 per cent) of people who store their bikes in communal spaces not having insurance for it.

Given that over half (57 per cent) of communal areas are unsecured, owners may have a nasty surprise if it is stolen and they are not covered.

Dan Simson, head of home insurance at Direct Line, said: “Anyone using a communal area to store an item should not be complacent and assume that just because they are inside, they are safe. Although these areas can be great space savers, we would urge everyone to make sure any belongings are locked up securely and ideally not visible from outside to deter opportunistic thieves.”

“When working out how much items are worth, it is important to think of their current retail value, not their second-hand value or how much they were originally purchased for, otherwise you risk being underinsured. Bikes can be expensive and potentially may need to be individually specified on an insurance policy, so knowing their value is vital. Being a victim of theft is stressful enough without worrying about not having the adequate insurance to replace valuable items.”

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