Evaluating the use of property marking products to reduce domestic burglary in hotspots

Ms Winnie Agnew-Pauley1, Dr Samantha Lundrigan1

1Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, United Kingdom


Property marking has been used by police forces to reduce burglary in England and Wales since the 1980s. The aim of the present study was to test the effectiveness of a range of property marking and property recording products in reducing domestic burglary in a large police force area in the east of England.  To do this, five products (SmartWater, SelectaDNA, UV Pen, CRE Mark and Immobilise) were distributed to residents by police officers across 10 burglary hotspots. A mixed methods evaluation utilising analysis of burglary data, two resident surveys and interviews with delivery officers and operational staff was conducted. Using a quasi-experimental design, the 10 treatment areas (the hotspot areas) were matched to control areas. The burglary rate in the 12 months following product distribution was compared between treatment and control areas. Analysis found no statistically significant reduction in burglary rates across all treatment areas (regardless of product type) to control areas combined. There was no statistically significant reduction in the rate of burglary between treatment and control areas for four of product areas with a marginally significant reduction in the burglary rate for one of the product areas (CRE Mark). Due to the small number of burglaries that occurred in the areas involved in the scheme, it was difficult to produce statistically significant findings or to conclusively show that certain areas experience greater reductions in burglary than others. The present research has implications for implementing and evaluating local burglary reduction interventions and the feasibility of property marking initiatives.


Winnie is a Research Fellow at the Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER), based at Anglia Ruskin University (UK). She has six years of professional research experience working across a range of policing and crime related projects in Australia and the UK, including researching the police powers, drug courts, community policing and public confidence, domestic violence, crime prevention and diversion programmes for drug involved offenders.

She is also in her second year of a PhD at Flinders University (Australia), conducting a comparative study on the use of stop and search in Australia and the UK.