Burglary crime statistics and facts
According to the latest FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, property crime rates – including burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft – have seen a significant decline in the last few years:
- The 2015 property crime rate was 14.4% less than the 2011 estimate and 25.7% less than the 2006 estimate.
- The rate of property crime as a whole decreased from 13.9 victimizations per 1,000 households in 2014 to 11.2 per 1,000 in 2015 – a 19% change.
- Burglary, specifically, dropped from 701 per 100,000 people to 542 per 100,000 people – a 22% change.
- In comparing 2015 vs. 2016, preliminary data shows a 3.4% decrease in burglary crimes, with larger cities reporting a greater decrease at 5.9% than their nonmetropolitan counterparts at 4%.
- Keep in mind that statistics do vary significantly by region, for example, the Northeast showed the greatest decrease at 5.9%.
- If you want to know how where you live compares, you can find the most recent crime statistics for your area here.
While today’s burglary statistics show an overall decrease in burglary rates, thousands of homes (roughly 325,000) are still being broken into every year – often in plain view, during the day. In fact, property crimes in 2015 resulted in losses estimated at $14.3 billion.
There are roughly 2.5 million burglaries a year, 66% of those being home break ins.
Police solve only 13% of reported burglary cases due to lack of a witness or physical evidence.
When do burglaries occur?
- There are 1,495,790 burglaries during the day. Break ins are 6% more likely to occur during the day between 6am and 6pm while people are at work or running errands.
- There are 1,324,090 burglaries during the night. The cover of night brings security for intruders but also means people are more likely be home.
- Snow and cold are also a significant deterrent. The lowest amount of burglaries happen in the month of February.
- A report from the U.S. Department of Justice showed that from 1993 to 2010, on average, burglary rates were highest in the summer, with about 9% lower rates in spring, 6% lower in fall, and 11% lower in winter.
How do they break in?
- Burglars are most attracted to homes that do not have home security systems, but only 17% of houses have a system in place.
- Homes without a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized.
- 95% of all home invasions require some sort of forceful entry, be that breaking a window, picking a lock, or kicking in a door.
- The most common tools used for breaking in are pry bars, pliers, screwdrivers, and little hammers. All easily concealed and very common tools, making them harder to trace.
Who’s breaking in?
A study on the habits and motivations of burglars conducted by the UNC Charlotte found:
- Burglars are most likely to be male and under 25 years old.
- 85% of break ins are by amateurs and done out of desperation, which some might suggest makes them more dangerous.
- Most spend time considering factors like proximity to traffic and possible escape routes; 12% admitted to planning in advance while 41% said it was an impulsive decision.
- 83% admitted that they specifically look to see if there’s an alarm; 60% would change their mind if there was one installed.
Is anyone home?
A report on Victimization During Household Burglary found that:
- 27.6% of the time, a person is home while the burglary occurs; 26% of those people home are harmed. That means 7.2% of burglaries result in someone being injured.
- 65.1% of the attackers knew the victim and 27.5% were strangers.
- 60.5% of burglaries involved no weapon; 30.1% did involve a weapon; 9.3% of victims were unsure if a weapon was involved.
- Homes with an income of less than $7500 annually were most subject to being present while being burglarized, at 65.7 out of 1,000 homes. As you climb to higher and higher annual incomes, your chance of being present goes down.
- You are more likely to burglarized if you rent than if you own your home.
- It seems as though burglars are less intimidated by people being present during an attack when they are either a single female, an American Indian or Alaskan Native, or if the house is owned by anyone young, between the ages of 12-19 years old. Perhaps they feel less intimidated by groups of people.
- What is most likely to be taken? High-value items like electronics and personal items (including stamps, collections, recreational equipment, clothing, luggage, bikes, or animals). Also, anything that is small, easily pocketed, and can return a quick turn-around at a pawn shop.
What are my protection options?
Not surprisingly, burglars will typically avoid a house if it is too difficult or risky. The following are steps you can take to prevent home intrusion:
- Make your house less appealing by removing overgrown brush or other structures that can provide cover.
- Get metal doors or at least solid core wood on exterior entrances. Pair with a beefy deadbolt for good measure.
- To go the extra mile, install a heavy duty strike plate with screws that go deep into the frame.
- Add a dowel or board into the track of sliding doors or windows. This prevents it from moving, even if it’s unlocked.
- Add security cameras and make sure they are visible. You can even buy dummy cameras if you only want to use them for deterrence.
- If you’re keeping a window open, make sure it isn’t more than 4 inches wide.
- Keep the entryway or porch locked, too. An open porch provides cover for those breaking into the main door.
- If someone you don’t know knocks on the door be loud – make your presence known.
- If you choose to answer the door, do so while on the phone with a friend or pretend you’re on the phone. This tells the potential burglar that someone will know if there’s a break in.
- If you’re sure a burglary is in progress, call 911 and shout loud statements like, “Honey – get the gun!” When they know you’re aware and have self-defense measures in place they are much less likely to follow through. For elderly residents who live alone, medical alert systems can usually alert the police as well.
- If you’ve just moved in, make sure you change the locks on all exterior doors to be safe.
- Get to know your neighbors. They’re your first line of defense – you watch their house, they watch yours.
What are my protection options if I’m going on vacation?
- Stop your mail delivery or have a neighbor grab mail and packages until you return.
- Have your neighbor park their car in your driveway so it looks like someone is home.
- Hook timers up to your televisions and lights. The same goes for outside lights – keep them on a timer or put them on motion-activated sensors.
- Hire a house sitter. Not only are they physically occupying your home but they can also keep up on mail and trash for you and water your plants.
- If you have a large dog, that is a very common deterrent. However, dogs can also give away whether or not a person is home by their behavior. The bigger the dog, the less likely a thief is to attempt a break-in.
- Even if you don’t have a dog, put a “Beware of Dog” sign up to suggest that you have a bully-breed dog that a robber should, in theory, be afraid of.
- Just the presence of an alarm system is enough to make a potential burglar reconsider. This is why security systems offer you a sign to put in your yard to warn the thieves.
- Leave a key and the alarm code with a trusted neighbor that is usually home when you’re not so they can help if something happens.
- For particularly expensive or tempting items, carve your driver’s license number and state somewhere inconspicuous so police can more easily match your stolen item.
- Create a shortlist of make, model, serial number and value of important items.
- Taking photos of your valuables. Keep a copy at home and give a copy to a trusted friend or family member, too.
- Check with your home insurance agent to make sure specific items are covered. You don’t want to be caught in a loophole because of a technicality.