“Burglary,” by definition, is the crime of illegally entering a building or other location for the purpose of committing an offense, according to the Cambridge English Dictionary. In most cases, that offense is theft.
Theft is the most commonly reported property crime in the US, and the nuances between theft, robbery, burglary, and home invasion are something we should all be familiar with—especially since we will be focusing primarily on burglary statistics in this article. Every crime that involves obtaining someone’s property in an illegal manner, without person-to-person contact, is classified as theft. Robbery, on the other hand, involves person-to-person contact, such as intimidation, coercion, or force.
Burglary involves entering a building or residence with the intention to commit a crime, and it doesn’t require a piece of property to be stolen or a person-to-person interaction to occur. This is the main difference in the robbery vs. burglary crime classification.
Home invasion is defined as forcible entrance into an occupied residence. If someone lives in the residence, it is considered occupied, regardless of whether they were home at the time of the invasion. Burglary is breaking into any protected structure, inhabited or not. Both home invasion and burglary charges are frequently issued to those who forcibly enter another person’s home.
How do American home security systems stack up against these crimes? The answer is pretty well—but not everyone has a security system. When we began our research, we were unaware of just how prominent burglary is. It is one of the most commonly committed crimes, yet we pay no attention to it, and we do so little to protect our homes and our loved ones. So, in short, the nation needs to be more wary of the issue.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled this list of the latest burglary statistics in order to raise home security awareness and improve everyone’s overall safety. It should help them take the right preventative measures to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their possessions.
How Do Burglars Choose Their Targets?
1. 47% of burglaries are not planned.
Convicted burglars say that almost half of their “jobs” were not planned. Unsecured homes, which burglars spot while casing a neighborhood, are more likely to be targeted, which the home invasion statistics from 2018 confirm.
2. 65% of burglars know their victims.
Statistics show that 65% of burglars are someone that the victim knows. It is devastating to find out that someone you know and trust might use the information about you, your home, and your schedule to earn a quick buck this way.
3. Suburban homes have a 50% higher chance of being burglarized.
Data shows that burglars prefer suburban homes, mostly due to lower traffic in suburban areas, which lowers their chances of getting caught. Apartment burglary statistics show significantly lower numbers than single-family residences. In addition, suburban single-family homes are easily accessed from all sides, providing multiple entry points for the burglars.
4. Burglars commonly choose houses with window air conditioning units.
Window air conditioning units provide one of the easiest entry points to a home, as they can be easily kicked in, especially if they are located on the lower floors. Nonetheless, some burglars don’t shy away from climbing to higher floors, as you’ll see in the home burglary statistics listed below.
5. Piled up mail is an open invitation to burglars.
Piles of mail in front of a house are one of the things that burglars look for. This probably means that the owners have been away for a while, providing an opportunity for burglars to strike. Ask your neighbors to pick up your mail when you leave town for a vacation.
6. Burglars avoid houses with security systems and/or dogs.
Gathering the data by sending letters to 86 inmates currently in jail for burglary, KGW News found that most agree that seeing signs of a security system or a dog on the premises would prevent burglars from breaking into the house. You can find more data on home security further down the list.
7. 85% of burglaries are committed by amateurs.
The numbers show that the majority of burglaries are committed by amateurs, often out of desperation. Most burglars are addicts or in desperate need of money, making them extremely dangerous.
8. Renters are 50% more likely to be burglarized.
According to the New York Times, renters are 50% more likely to be burglarized than those who own a home. Even though this burglary crime data takes Manhattan as its source, where not many people are fortunate to own a home, it still shows how much renters’ insurance can be valuable.
When Do Burglaries Occur?
9. 65% of burglaries occur during the day.
Even though we tend to imagine burglars as some covert operatives that work under the veil of night, the fact is that most burglaries occur in daylight. 65% of burglars choose to strike during the day, as this lowers the chances of getting caught by someone in the house.
10. Most burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Are you wondering, What time of day do most residential burglaries occur? Your house is most likely to be broken into in the middle of the day. The majority of people are running errands or working during this time, and the same goes for burglars.
11. July and August are the months when most burglaries occur.
Even though there are some reckless and crazy ones, burglars generally aren’t interested in harming anyone, and they want to avoid running into occupants by all means. This is the reason July and August, the period when most people are on vacation, are the answer to the question, What time of year do most burglaries occur?
12. February is when the least burglaries occur.
Statistics provided by the Bureau of Justice show that household burglary numbers are 11% lower during the winter. February is an especially slow month for burglars, as their activity drastically lowers during this period. There aren’t many people walking around, so the suspicious ones are easy to spot. Another major reason behind this phenomenon is the fact that snow drastically increases their chances of getting caught, according to home security statistics.
13. Warmer days see an increased number of burglaries.
A study that took place in Chicago, one of the most violent cities in the US, found that warmer weather, even in the winter, leads to an increase in burglaries, assaults, vehicle thefts, and increased overall aggression. Burglars’ preferences for the summer months might have a psychological background, the study suggests.
General Burglary Data and Statistics
14. 66% of burglaries are home break-ins.
The majority of burglaries are home intrusions—66% of burglars choose to commit residential burglaries, while only a minority of their colleagues choose businesses as their target.
15. 3.7 million home burglaries occur each year in the US on average.
The Bureau of Justice, which falls under the US Department of Justice, published in their report that 3.7 million households are burglarized every year, based on a four-year period. This makes up an average of around 3% of households being burglarized yearly.
16. A home burglary occurs every 13 seconds.
The answer to the popular question How often does a burglary occur? is a staggering one.
17. Burglars are most likely to be males under the age of 25, but this number seems to be rising.
The majority of burglars are going to be young males. However, even though they are still the most prevalent age group among burglars, they are slowly being pushed out by those between the ages of 36 and 50. Female burglar cases are still uncommon. Former burglars say that burglary became an old-school form of crime that less and less young criminals are interested in. Young male criminals are presumed to have shifted their focus to internet frauds and drug-related crimes, as they carry much less risk.
18. An average break-in lasts between 8 and 10 minutes.
It takes less than 10 minutes for an average burglar to go through their victim’s home and find what they’re after, FBI statistics tell us. Information about what they most commonly take can be found below.
19. Cash is the most commonly stolen item (followed by electronics, gold, guns, jewelry, and medications).
During the time they’re in, burglars search for anything that can easily be sold or traded. Their primary goal is cash, but they’ll be more than glad to take your electronics (laptops, smartphones, etc.), jewelry (watches, earrings, necklaces), firearms, power tools, or your car. Any documents found can also be a great asset to them, as they can steal the owner’s identity and open credit cards in their name. Burglary cases often involve stolen meds, as there are plenty of addicts in the business.
20. The average burglary loss is valued at $2,416.
A typical break-in costs homeowners $2,416. Keep in mind that this is the value of just the stolen items, not accounting for any damaged property, which can also easily go into the thousands of dollars.
21. The master bedroom is the most common first target.
Once they break in, burglars are most likely to head to the master bedroom first, home burglary stats show. This is where most people keep their valuables, such as jewelry, cash, or weapons. The first item the burglars search through is the dresser, followed by the closets and under the mattress.
22. 28% of burglaries occur with someone still in the house.
FBI burglary statistics say that there’s someone still in the house in 28% of burglaries. It can be quite dangerous to catch the thieves off guard when they think there’s no one in the house they’re breaking into.
23. Over 25% of those who interrupt burglars become victims of violent crimes.
Out of one million cases of household members being present during a burglary, 266,560 ended in them becoming a victim of a violent crime. In 15% of the cases, the crime was classified as simple assault. Home burglary statistics for 2018 show that robbery accounted for 7% of cases, while rape accounted for 3%. Serious injuries occurred in 9% of the cases, while minor injuries were sustained in 36% of the cases.
24. 12% of burglars carry a firearm.
Even though most burglars carry some sort of weapon, this is a surprisingly low number in answer to the question, What percentage of burglars are armed? When just 12% of them carry a firearm, it’s clear that most don’t have any intention to run into anyone, let alone hurt them.
25. 51% of burglarized homes are targeted again within 6 weeks.
Once they hit a good spot, burglars will likely return within six weeks, as evident by the data showing this is the case in more than half of all burglaries. The waiting period is six weeks because that’s how long it typically takes insurance companies to pay out or replace the stolen items. There’s your answer if you wondered, Do burglars return to the same house?
26. Just 13.6% of burglaries result in arrest.
Burglary is not a crime that’s easily punishable, and perhaps that’s the reason behind its rise in recent years. Roughly every seventh burglar is arrested and then actually brought to justice. The sentences for this crime can range anywhere between 1 and 20 years, depending on the circumstances.
How Do Most Burglars Break In?
27. 4% of burglars will enter through an unlocked door.
Statistics show that every 25th burglar simply walks into the house they’re targeting through an unlocked door. Some neighborhoods offer a strong sense of security, and people living there just don’t lock their doors, which can prove to be a fatal mistake. No matter how safe your area is, locking your door is the least you can do to keep your family and your home safe.
28. 2% of burglars try to enter through the second floor.
Our burglary statistics show that just 2% of burglars are prone to exhibition and climbing, as they take the harder route and enter a house through the second floor. Once again, we get a false sense of security and don’t bother with securing the upper levels of our houses, but there are people out there willing to exploit this weakness.
29. 81% of burglars gain entry through the first floor.
Most burglars take the easier way and break in through the first floor. 81% of them won’t climb up to check for an unlocked window upstairs, and they would rather take their chances with the ground floor.
30. 9% of burglars break in through the basement.
And finally, some burglars will try their luck underground and enter the premises through the basement. This part of the house is usually easily accessible through windows that aren’t too difficult to break and climb through.
31. 34% of burglars will enter through the front door.
Compared to other access points, burglars will most often pick the front door as their point of entry. Preventing burglaries is not a common priority, so most homes lack even the most basic security measures, making breaking in through the front door too easy.
32. 22% go in through the back door.
22% of burglars try to remain a bit more stealthy and avoid the attention that knocking down someone’s front door can bring, so they choose the back door as their point of entry. Nowadays, many houses have cameras set at the front as a burglar deterrent and in order to track packages and such, so the back of the house can be a better option.
33. 23% of burglars enter through a window.
Nearly a fourth of all burglars will try to break in through a window. Windows are commonly left unlocked, or even open, making them an easy entry point. Even locked windows can be easily broken if there’s no alarm system in place.
34. 9% of burglars will break in through the garage.
9% of burglars’ preferred method of forced entry is through the garage, as shown by property crime statistics. Typically, garage doors aren’t secured, making it easy for experienced burglars to get in. More people need to know how easy it is to make your garage burglary-proof.
35. 1 in 8 burglars choose to pick a lock to gain entry.
Most break-ins are committed by breaking a piece of glass or knocking down the door. However, one in eight burglars chooses lock picking as their main entrance method, supporting the stereotype of the kind of burglar we’re all familiar with in movies.
Home Security System Statistics
36. Just 17% of US homes have a security system.
One of the most common questions when it comes to home security is What percentage of homes in the US have a security system? Just 17% of homeowners in the US have invested in this aspect of home protection, leaving burglars a pretty wide range of unprotected homes to target.
37. Homes with no security systems are up to 300% more likely to be broken into.
Considering how homes with no security systems in place are 300% more likely to be burglarized than those without one, even the simplest security system that you can install on your own is better than having none, FBI crime stats point out.
38. 60% of burglars will change their target if they notice an alarm system.
Once burglars notice an alarm system, 60% of them will decide to abort the mission and move on to an easier one. Even noticing an alarm system sticker on your door can deter them.
39. 74% of failed burglaries are contributed to an audible alarm.
Close to three-quarters of failed burglaries are due to an alarm that goes off and scares the burglars away. The rest of the homes that get broken into and then abandoned mid-heist are likely to have a dog or a person in the house that the burglars didn’t count on running into.
40. 95% of homeowners with a security system are satisfied with it.
The vast majority of homeowners that have a security system in place are fully satisfied with its function. 95% of them find that it does its job as intended: discouraging burglars to break in and alarming the authorities in the rare cases they manage to get into the house. Having a basic security system is a great answer to the question, How can I stop my house from being robbed?
41. 54% of those who have a security system are not sure how to operate it.
There’s a big issue with those who own a home security system. According to statistics, 54% of them are not certain how to operate the system, leaving their home vulnerable, despite investing possibly thousands of dollars into its protection. Make sure that you get detailed information from the installer or manufacturer if you’re installing the security system on your own. House alarm systems shouldn’t be rocket science.
42. 27% of home security system owners arm their systems only when they go to bed.
More than a quarter of all home security system owners only activate their systems when they are on their way to bed. As we mentioned at the beginning, most burglaries occur during the day. Make sure your security system is armed at all times, even when you’re home chilling in your living room.
How to Prevent Break-ins and Secure Your Home
1. Make sure to keep your windows and doors locked.
Locking your doors at all times should become a force of habit. Make sure that every member of your household has a key, and this will be even easier. No matter how safe you consider your neighborhood to be, the home burglary statistics aren’t in your favor when it comes to the chances of getting burglarized. Windows are just as important, as we often forget to secure them. Most windows have simple latches, which are not enough to make your home safe from burglars; get some locks for them, especially if you live in a rough area.
2. Get a security system.
If you’re wondering how to stop burglars from targeting your home, there’s no better way than getting a proper home security system installed. Not only does it provide you with a sense of security, it will also discourage burglars from attempting to break in. Learning how to operate the system is equally as important as getting one, as we learned before.
3. Get a dog.
Getting a dog is one of the best ways of improving your home’s security. Your house will be safe, and you’ll get a new best friend who will not only protect you but also keep you company and love you unconditionally. A home robbery is less likely to occur even if you just have one of those “Beware of dog” stickers, in case you can’t get a dog due to a rental policy or for health reasons.
4. Change the locks when moving to a new house/apartment.
A commonly understated measure of protection is changing the locks on your new home. Whether you’ve moved to a new house or an apartment, the old locks need to go as soon as possible. You never know who has the old keys to your place, so this is the basis of your security for home.
5. Have your neighbors check on your home when you’re on vacation.
Being friendly with your neighbors can be more than helpful when you’re out of town. Ask your neighbors to check in on your house occasionally while you’re on vacation and check the mailbox in order for it not to overflow. If they have more than one car, ask them to park one in your driveway. Offer to do the same for them when they aren’t home, as our community can be the greatest asset in home break-in prevention.
6. Use timers for your interior lights.
Even with your neighbors keeping an eye out, it’s important to keep things looking normal when you’re not home. Having timers installed for interior lights is an easy way to make anyone watching your house think there’s someone inside and prevent them from breaking in.
7. Install a motion-activated exterior light.
Having a well-lit yard can come in handy for many reasons, apart from keeping burglars away. For example, motion-activated lights can prevent injuries that easily occur in the dark. For those asking Do lights deter burglars? the answer is a decisive yes. They are probably the cheapest home security measure you can implement.
8. Get insurance.
No matter how careful you are and how much money you invest in the security measures for your home, there’s always a chance it will get burglarized. For this reason, insurance is a must for all homeowners and renters. Keep a list of all your valuables, including photos, serial numbers, and values, both for insurance purposes and to provide to the police in case they are stolen.
With hundreds of burglaries occurring every minute, one can’t help but feel helpless. However, using the tips provided, we can all work on preventing crime from happening.
Hopefully, this extensive list of home security and burglary statistics is enough to get you thinking about your own home’s safety. Its main purpose is not to frighten you into securing your home, but to show that, with just a little effort, you can make your house and your entire neighborhood a more safe and pleasant place to live in.
List of Sources:
- Bureau of Justice
- Bureau of Justice