Will Your House Be Broken Into This Year?

Thief with crowbar

What are the odds that your home will be burglarized this year? Data from the FBI 2012 crime report shows that we can expect one in every thirty-six homes in the United States to be burglarized this year, resulting in an average loss of $2,230 per break in (totaling $4.7 billion in property losses). These numbers do not account for any additional psychological costs to the homeowners, as burglary victims may subsequently live in fear and harbor feelings of personal violation.

Top ten highest risk burglary cities in the U.S.

We thought it would be interesting to take a look at the cities with the highest burglary rate. According to the FBI's crime statistic rankings1 of U.S. cities with a population of 250,000 or more, here are the burglary stats by city on cases per 100,000 people for the 2012 calendar year (based on the most recent FBI crime report).

Cities in America with the highest crime rate (worst ranked first)

We want to remind you to use caution when looking over these rankings. There are different variables that affect crime and these rankings often lead to misleading perceptions affecting the areas and their residents.

Cities with the highest violent crime rates

  1. Memphis, TN - 1,056.8
  2. Detroit, MI - 1,049.8
  3. Flint, MI - 907.5
  4. Stockton, CA - 889.3
  5. Anchorage, AK - 811.1
  6. Rockford, IL - 739.7
  7. Lubbock, TX - 720.2
  8. Las Vegas, NV - 696.5
  9. Nashville, TN - 665.9
  10. Little Rock, AR - 665.0

Cities with the highest property crime rates (includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft)

  1. Spokane, WA - 5,538.5
  2. Fayetteville, NC - 5,359.6
  3. Little Rock, AR - 5,150.4
  4. Columbus, GA - 4,778.6
  5. San Antonio, TX - 4,688.1
  6. Springfield, MO - 4,623.0
  7. Lubbock, TX - 4,522.5
  8. Montgomery, AL - 4,448.0
  9. Fresno, CA - 4,423.8
  10. Miami, FL - 4,390.3

Cities with the highest burglary rates

  1. Fayetteville, NC - 1,827.4
  2. Flint, MI - 1,448.4
  3. Toledo, OH - 1,389.5
  4. Little Rock, AR - 1,379.9
  5. Memphis, TN - 1,303.3
  6. Montgomery, AL - 1,389.8
  7. Bakersfield, CA - 1,271.6
  8. Spokan, WA - 1,239.1
  9. Winston-Salem, NC - 1,220.8
  10. Columbus, GA - 1,211.0

>>Interested in states with the lowest property crime rates?

Burglary statistics infographic

We created an infographic to visually portray how burglary can impact Americans and to showcase the key takeaways when considering home safety and investing in a home security system.
ASecureLife.com Burglary Stats Home Security Infographic

Know what a burglar is thinking

If you know what a burglar is thinking you'll know some of the most crucial things to keep your home safe. These include: the first area of the home to be burgled, the most commonly stolen items, the most popular time for burglaries to occur, the most common point of entry into a burglarized home, the profile of a typical burglar, and the amount of time a burglar spends in your home. Knowing these items can help you protect some of your precious valuables and your home.

>>Think like a thief. Find out how to deter burglars.

The first room a burglar goes for

Master bedrooms are usually the most common room for a burglar to target. This is a jackpot room for the burglar because items like jewelry, collectibles, safes, and cash can be found here. Next on the burglar's list is the home office, living room, and dining room. These rooms often display valuables openly so it's easy for them to scan these rooms and take what they want. Valuables may include items like china dishes, flat screen TVs, gaming consoles, and more. Valuables change over time due to the development of technology and the 'ideal' modern home.

Pro tip
Take Note

Hide your most precious valuables in hidden safes.

Most commonly stolen items

Below are some of the most commonly stolen items during a burglary. Most of these are easy to sell at a pawn shop, which makes them appealing to a burglar.

  • Cash
  • Electronics
  • Gold
  • Guns
  • Jewelry
  • Silver

Most popular time for a burglar to strike

The most common time for a burglary to take place is between 10 am and 3 pm. Of course, burglaries can take place at any time of day, but this is the most common time frame. This is shocking to most people because it's stereotyped that criminals tend to work at night to keep hidden. But if you think about it, it makes sense to target a home between 10 am and 3 pm because most homeowners are away from the home either at work or running errands.

What entry point does a burglar use most often?

Most burglars enter your home through the front door. At times, a burglar may first knock on your door to see if anyone is home. If no one is home, they'll jiggle the doorknob to see if it's unlocked. Many times homeowners leave their doors unlocked, which is an open invitation for an intruder.

The next best entry point for a burglar to gain access to your home is through a window on the first floor, followed by the back door. This doesn't mean that burglars don't bother attempting other entry points like garage doors or through the basement so be sure to always lock your doors/windows, install window and door sensors and have heavy-duty locks on them.

What's a typical burglar's profile

There isn't a specific cookie-cutter profile when it comes to burglars but there is a common profile. A burglar tends to be a male in his mid-to-late teens. One thing that you wouldn't think is that the burglar often targets homes within a few miles of their own home.

What's the average time a burglar spends in a home?

The most important thing for a burglar (besides stealing your belongings) is the in and out time. It needs to be as smooth as possible and as quick as possible with little hassle. The average time a burglar spends in a home is 8-12 minutes.

Making burglary difficult for criminals

Burglars don't like to spend too much time breaking into a home (usually less than a minute). You can make your home more difficult to break into by installing jams on windows and patio doors and deadbolts on all entry doors. Be sure to have all of your shrubbery and vegetation trimmed so it's not easy for a burglar to hide in. Keep the outside of you home clutter free as well so intruders cannot hide behind any objects. And of course, always lock your doors and windows.

How To

Check out our article on what to do if your burglar alarm goes off.

Technological advances

Home security systems first became available in 1969. At this time they were unreliable and too expensive for the average homeowner. Today, systems are more dependable and more affordable to the average consumer. Companies like ADT, Alarm Force, and CPI bombarded the general public with scary statistics on burglary, so homeowners were more willing to pay for these systems.

Other advances in home security systems include notification systems that went from alerting neighbors with a shrill and annoying alarm, to directly notifying police. Is it the very existence of these home security systems that deters burglars? Perhaps it is the idea that burglars would be less likely to get away with their crime with the police en route as soon as the alarm sounds. Current data suggests that homes without security systems are 2.7 times more likely to be targeted by a burglar. Unfortunately, these statistics do not shed light on why burglars choose not to break in to these homes.

Check out our home security systems reviews page to learn more about the current technology available from home security systems.

Burglary in the United States

According to the FBI, there were an estimated 2,103,787 burglaries in 2012, a decrease of 3.7% compared to 2011. Burglaries in the US regions have decreased except for in the West, where the number of estimated burglaries increased to 4.8%. With burglaries taking place every 15 seconds, I'd be concerned about my house being burglarized too.

In the United States, burglary is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, but how exactly is it determined one or the other? The state in which the crime was committed is the determining factor, since every state has its own rules regarding the severity of a burglary. Strangely enough, burglars do not tend to think ahead of the game and find out the potential punishment for the crime that they are about to commit. If a potential burglar were to find out that the offense would be considered a felony in that particular state, he or she may be prompted to think twice before committing the crime.

Why should a burglar care whether his or her crime could be punishable as a felony or a misdemeanor? The punishment for a felony is much more severe. After someone commits three felonies, the criminal will receive a much harsher punishment regardless of the nature of the third felony. Punishment is not the only thing that should scare these criminals straight. They should take into consideration the necessity of work and living arrangements, as individuals with a felony conviction on their criminal record have a considerably low chance of obtaining gainful employment or even renting a moderately decent home. Almost everything done in today's society utilizes a criminal background check. For the convicted felon, this spells doom and prevents advancement within the community even after he or she has completed a sentence.

Burglary in the United States has declined since the 1970s

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the incidence of burglary in the United States in 2002 was 27.7 households out of every 1,000. Surprisingly, this rate has moderately declined over the past decade. Data from 2008 shows a steady hold in the rate of burglary incidences at around 26.3 out of every 1,000 homes. This decline may seem somewhat small, but looking at the entire United States population, even a small drop in criminal activity per 1,000 households is significant. By expanding the data range from 2002 back to 1973, the declining trend in burglaries can be seen with more accuracy. In 1973, the reported rate of burglary fell at 110 out of every 1,000 households. Compared to the 26.3 out of every 1,000 households reported in the United States in 2008, this is a considerable and noteworthy statistic.

What caused such a decline in burglary statistics?

Various speculations have arisen behind the decline of burglary statistics since the early  70's. However, the four measures of serious violent crime reveal interesting information. These four measures include: the total violent crime rate, the crimes reported to police, the crimes recorded by police, and the arrests for violent crime. When these significant measurements are compared over the past four decades, they point to increased arrests for criminal behavior and an increase in the amount of crimes recorded by the police. Ironically, as the amount of crimes recorded by police have increased, the number of victimization's reported to police have declined. Burglary is not included in the 'serious violent crime' category, which includes homicide, rape, robbery, and assault.

These burglary trends are still rather significant, as they show a growing reluctance to report victimization and an increase in the number of individuals arrested for violent crime. As the arrest rate has increased and the number of victimization reports have decreased, the total number of violent crimes have decreased. We cannot help but wonder about the strength of association between these elements.

How do violent crime statistics relate to property crime?

Property crime rates have declined for decades. Are the increase in arrest rate and decrease in crimes reported to blame for this decline? According to recent reports, the United States has a prison population larger than those in Russia and China. Could a 'crack down' on arrests and convictions for criminal activity cause criminals to avoid the urge to burglarize? The data does not present enough facts to determine the cause for increased arrests, but it can prove that arrest rates have increased. Since 1920, American prisons held under 200,000 individuals who were convicted of illegal activity. This rate increased to around 265,000 in 1970. As of 2006, however, the prison population has skyrocketed to a mind-blowing 2.4 million. Are citizens today becoming increasingly reluctant to call the police and report criminal activity? One can hold out hope for a reformed criminal population and cleaner streets, but it is unlikely that the entire criminal population of the country remains behind bars.

What about the legalization of crimes?

Major topics like the legalization of abortion are said to have had a significant impact on the level of reported crimes. The arrests of those performing illegal abortions no longer occurred after it was made legal, and some argue this impacted the crime rate. However, this argument does not account for the decline in property crime. The only legislation change that could have affected all rates of criminal activity was the implementation of the 'three strikes' law, which was enacted in 1993. Even with this three strikes policy in place, however, the bottoming out of burglary statistics did not occur until many years later. It seems that this is not a likely scenario either.

How does burglary compare to robbery?

Many people use the terms burglary and robbery interchangeably, but there is a significant difference. Burglary involves breaking and entering a structure with the intent to commit a crime. Robbery, however, is defined as the theft of property or money through the threat of violence. A victim must be present in order for a crime to be considered robbery. Additionally, burglary deems it unnecessary for theft to be committed, and a crime classified as a robbery requires theft to occur. The typical bank holdup is considered a robbery, and like this scenario, many robberies involve the use of weapons and threat of violence in order to intimidate a victim into giving up items of value. Whereas robbers enter a situation knowing that threat and/or violence will be involved, burglars seldom intend a confrontation with their victims and generally do not act violently. Learn more about the differences between burglary and robbery.

Source: [1] FBI.gov