When we hear the word “crime,” the first thing that comes to our minds is probably murder or another form of violent crime. However, a considerable percentage of all crimes are not violent, as property crime statistics show. Property crime doesn’t usually entail violence but is serious nonetheless.
Property crimes are crimes against our property. These can make us feel unsafe in our own homes, where we should feel the safest, and can rid us of our possessions and valuables of monetary and sentimental value.
Property crimes happen often, but how often? And how to prevent them? Keep reading, as we’ll find out together.
Top 10 Property Crime Stats (Editor’s Choice)
- Only 32.5% of property crimes were reported in 2019.
- 42.7% of property crimes in 2019 happened in the South.
- In 2020, 83% of Republicans thought the crime had increased nationally.
- Gangs are responsible for only 10% of graffiti vandalism.
- Only 25% of Americans have home security systems.
- A typical burglary lasts less than 12 minutes.
- One-half of arsonists are underage.
- 32.7% more burglaries occur in rented homes.
- More than $13 billion worth of merchandise gets shoplifted every year.
- In 2020, New Mexico had 696.8 burglaries per 100,000 residents.
US Crime Statistics
Every year, we get the annual reported crime data from the FBI and the Bureau of Justice. Unfortunately, we have no data on the crimes that don’t get reported. The figures from 2019 show that the FBI reported 2,109.9 property crimes (per 100,000 people) and 379.4 violent crimes.
According to both sources, the most common form of property crime in 2019 was theft.
1. 12.8 million American households were victims of one or more property crime types in 2019.
Property crime is theft or destruction of another’s property without using force or the threat against a victim. Different types of property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, arson, vandalism, and trespassing.
The rate of property crime has dropped since 1990, but there is more property crime in the US than violent crime.
Property crime victimization rates decreased by 6% from 2018 to 2019, as stated in BJS’s Criminal Victimization 2019. Burglary rates were the lowest since 1993 and were 22% lower than in 2018.
2. According to FBI data, property crime rates fell by 55% between the early 1990s and 2019.
(Pew Research Center)
Moreover, they fell by 71% between 1993 and 2019, while the violent crime rates fell by 74%. However, both the violent and property crime rate have been in a steady decline over the years.
The steepest decreases were in the rates of burglary (-69%), motor vehicle theft (-64%), and larceny/theft (-49%), while the robbery, out of all violent crime types, showed the most decline (-68%).
3. 41.0% of violent crimes and 42.7% of property crimes in 2019 happened in the South.
Violent crime statistics show that this part of the US also had 48.7% of all murders committed in the US. Moreover, the South had the most significant population concentration, so, it’s logical there will be more crime overall.
The Northeast had the least crime of any type; only 13.1% of violent crimes and 10.9% property crimes. Nevertheless, property crime decreased by 5.3% in the West, 10.3% in the Midwest, 9.3% in the South, and 5.7% in the Northeast.
4. In 2020, 83% of Republicans and Republican-identifying people thought that the crime had increased nationally.
(Pew Research Center, Gallup, Statista)
Moreover, 2020 crime statistics imply that at least 60% of Americans believe there is more crime on the national level than the year before, despite the crime rates going downward.
Even though the opposing party is more likely to say crime has increased, only 73% of Democrats and Democratic-identifying individuals thought that crime was up.
The perception of the decline in the local crime rate probably comes from people spending more time at home due to the pandemic and not seeing many outsiders in their neighborhoods. The BLM protests (some of which turned violent or ended up in looting or arson) could have made the impression that crime is up nationwide.
5. Property crime statistics indicate that only 32.5% of property crimes get reported.
(Pew Research Center)
Most crimes in the US don’t get reported to the police, and most reported crimes are not solved. The reasons for not reporting a crime vary. There have been cases where an offended knew an offender and was afraid of getting them in trouble. The fear of reprisal is also a widespread reason. Many people feel that police wouldn’t do much, if anything, to help, and some believe that the crime was too trivial to report.
According to the FBI clearance rate, most reported crimes go unsolved. Moreover, property crime statistics from 2019 show that only 17.2% of reported property crimes got cleared, while the police solved 45.5% of violent crimes.
6. 29% of Americans are afraid to walk alone in the local area at night.
This is a decrease from 37% in the previous year and approximately matches the previous low of 30% recorded only twice in the last 50 years, in 2017 and 2001.
7. In the first six months of 2020, the number of property and violent crimes has declined.
This is based on the information that 12,206 law enforcement agencies submitted to the FBI. The property crime rate declined by 7.8% when compared to the data from the first half of 2019. However, motor vehicle theft increased by 6.2%. The cities with less than 10,000 inhabitants saw the most significant decrease (14.2%) in property crime.
8. Theft, burglary, and robbery experienced a decline of more than 50% worldwide during the pandemic.
(United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime)
The property crime statistics from 2020 show that social distancing impacted the crime, and the decline was more significant in the countries where lockdown was stricter. However, the decrease in crimes may be due to reporting fewer crimes and criminal justice institutions being affected by the pandemic. In fact, property crime was lower in the middle- and high-income countries.
Yet, the lack of financial stability could increase property crime after the pandemic. Some population groups (those who lost their home or job) could be more motivated to engage in criminal activities to secure some form of income.
9. Vandalism statistics show that it is a felony in some states if the damage is worth more than $1000.
(Criminal Defense Lawyer, Houston)
Vandalism is a misdemeanor when a destroyed property isn’t worth a lot. This little mishap can get you anywhere from probation or community service to a year in the local jail.
If damage to a property is more serious (or, in some states, if a motor vehicle gets vandalized), it is considered a felony—you can end up in state prison and pay up to $25,000 in fines.
Burglary includes forcible or unlawful entry into another person’s property and stealing something from them. On the other hand, criminal trespassing is related to being on someone else’s property without permission. Funnily enough, burglary includes an attempted entry and attempted stealing, and even the intention to steal.
10. 1,117,696 burglaries happened in the US in 2019.
(Alarms, SafeWise, FBI)
House burglary statistics warn that every 30 seconds, someone breaks into someone’s home. That is the result of people not taking precautions to protect their homes. Carelessness is a real problem, and many people don’t have safety measures. For example, windows are open even if the house is vacant.
Some owners may leave posts on social media about vacationing, which indicates the house is empty. Burglars are very experienced when it comes to smelling out places that are not protected. They quickly notice signs there is no alarm or that an owner is away.
11. Home security system statistics show that only 25% of US citizens have a home security system in place.
The FBI crime analysts have explained that almost all home burglaries are preventable. It is only necessary that an owner installs some kind of security system. Check out our recommendations for the best door locks, security cameras, and motion sensor lights for your home to find out how to fend off intruders.
In a survey conducted among burglars, 83% said they looked for an alarm, and 60% said they wouldn’t break into someone’s home if there were an alarm.
12. Burglary facts point out that most break-ins happen during the day (between 10 AM and 3 PM) when owners run errands or are at work.
(Alarms, SimpliSafe, ADT)
Burglars are usually not one of those movie types, dressed in all black, with a hood concealing their face. On the contrary, they generally dress in plain clothes to fit right in and don’t attract unwanted attention. They sometimes even knock on the front door or ring a bell to see if an owner is at home.
Besides the preferable time of day for a burglary, residential burglary statistics explain that burglars also prefer the summer months—the weather is warm, and most people are on vacation (maybe there is also a window open).
The average rate of household burglary is 11% lower during the winter. Therefore, February is the month when the lowest number of burglaries occur.
13. The average burglar is a male in his early 20s.
These youngsters are usually addicted to drugs or are in some sort of debt or financial crisis. While serial burglars most commonly target strangers, amateurs tend to break into houses they know. Based on property crime stats, desperate amateurs commit around 85% of burglaries. So, the possibility of someone you know burglarizing your home is pretty probable.
14. The FBI burglary statistics show that burglary usually lasts from 90 seconds to 12 minutes.
Although burglaries don’t often involve violence or a threat with a weapon, victims are traumatized for a long time. The uneasy feeling of not being safe in their own homes and fear that a perpetrator could return are prevalent among victims.
Burglars typically steal valuable items such as cash, jewelry, drugs, weapons (predominantly guns), and small electronic devices—smartphones, Ipads, Ipods, tablets, and similar. Facts about stealing also state the average loss is around $2,661. These items attract burglars because it is easier and quicker to carry away smaller items and pawn them on the streets.
15. The average rate of arrests for burglaries in the US is only around 13%.
Most burglaries don’t have witnesses since they usually happen when homeowners are away. Also, not many perpetrators leave physical evidence or fingerprints. This means that the police don’t have anything to work with, and you will most likely have to say goodbye forever to your stolen possessions. On the other hand, burglary facts show that the burglar is very likely to re-offend.
16. More than $13.3 billion worth of property has been reported stolen in the US, but the police recovered only 28.9% (about $3.9 billion).
Motor vehicles (stolen locally) have the highest value of both stolen ($5,752,240,315) and recovered property (56.1% of all stolen property value—$3,228,870,193). Meanwhile, property crime statistics show that out of all stolen notes ($1,423,559,757), only 2.6% were recovered.
The second-lowest percent of recovered property value goes to jewelry and precious metals, as authorities recovered only 3.5% of the stolen value of $1,057,763,740 in 2019. In third place are televisions, radios and stereos, with the recovery rate of 4.3%.
17. In 2020, New Mexico had the highest burglary rate by state—648.8 burglaries per 100,000 residents.
Oklahoma was a close second, with 613.3 burglaries, and Arkansas came third, counting 523.1 burglaries per 100,000 citizens.
On the other hand, the safest states were New Hampshire and Virginia, the first having 103.3, and the latter having 133.5 burglaries.
If you plan to move, don’t forget to look at the list of the safest cities and those not so safe.
The FBI defines arson as deliberately or maliciously setting fire to personal or someone else’s property, with or without intent to defraud.
Fire is regarded as arson only when all other causes are excluded (e.g., proof that the fire was not accidental). Proving arson may be challenging, but getting an arsonist prosecuted is even harder, and not many arsonists end up doing time for the crime.
Motives are various—profit, revenge, political or religious extremism, vandalism, excitement, possible concealment of another crime, attention-seeking, mental illness (pyromania), and similar.
18. Arson statistics in the US show that the number of these offenses was 19.2% higher in the first half of 2020 than in the first half of 2019.
The FBI’s Preliminary Uniform Crime Report offers insight into the crime rates in the first six months of 2020. Information about arson offenses in the US is different from other property crime types in the FBI’s UCR Program.
Arson offenses were up in the entire US. The increase was most prominent in the West (28.0%) and the lowest in the South (10.2%).
19. 4,947 white Americans got arrested for arson in the United States in 2020.
(WebMD, Statista, FBI)
Property crime statistics reveal that about 90% of all arsonists are male, and they are usually white. A total of 6,291 persons were arrested for arson-related offenses in 2019. Out of those, only 1,553 were African American. In addition, law enforcement agencies apprehended only 125 Asian offenders.
20. The average arson damage amounted to $16,371 in 2019.
Motor vehicle arson damage was $8,057 on average. The most damage occurred in arsons of industrial structures ($190,336). The single-occupancy residential category also suffered a lot of damage—$30,308 on average.
Interestingly, while industrial structure arsons caused the most damage, police solved only 24.1% of these cases.
21. Juvenile arson statistics report that 50% of arsonists are younger than 18.
FBI and US Fire Administration statistics indicate that half of the arsons are committed by underage persons, while the rest of the arsonists are primarily in their late 20s.
The primary motive of juvenile arsonists is anger. Considering that most arsonists are mentally disabled, and most profiled arsonists have an IQ below average (70–90) and fewer means of expressing emotion and anger, it is clear why this combination is fatal.
When older people commit arson, it is most likely a crime motivated by financial profit, such as insurance.
22. FBI’s property crime statistics show that 33,395 arsons were reported in 2019, 4.9% less than in 2018.
In the FBI report FY 2019, 42.2% of arson involved structure, residential, public, or storage. Furthermore, 35.2% of reported arson destroyed crops, timber, fences, and similar. The mobile property accounted for 22.6% of arsons. In 2019, arsonists set 8,898 motor vehicles on fire.
23. In 2019, about 21.1% of arsons got cleared.
(PI Now, Statista)
Even if arson is responsible for billions of dollars in lost or damaged property each year, not many arson-related fire investigations lead to arrests.
Property crime facts state it is hard to prove arson. The evidence, most likely, went up in smoke (pun intended) or was destroyed while firefighters were putting out the fire using water and chemical foam.
The principal witnesses are firefighters or first respondents. That is why an investigator—usually a knowledgeable ex-firefighter or a trained professional—will ask them about the smoke color, the possible odor of an accelerant, and the condition of windows/doors.
All crimes where someone unlawfully takes away another person’s property are considered theft (synonymous with larceny).
The gravity of the conviction for this crime depends on the stolen property’s value. “Petty theft” is considered a misdemeanor, and “grand theft” is a felony and can cost you many years of your life.
24. In 2020, 4,606,324 larceny-theft cases were reported in the US.
Larceny-theft statistics show that these numbers are lower than the ones in 2019 when 5,152,267 thefts were reported. Theft, like all other property crimes, has been on a steady decline since the early 1990s. The highest figures were in 1991, when people reported 8,142,228 thefts.
Stealing items from motor vehicles (except motor vehicle accessories) is the most common type of larceny-theft; car burglary statistics have reported 1,046,216 cases.
25. In 2019, the larceny arrest rate for minors was highest in Nebraska (952 arrests).
The lowest larceny arrest rate (for every 100,000 persons in the age group of 10–17) was in West Virginia—only 33 persons under 18 got arrested. Alabama, North Dakota, and Montana also show high larceny arrest rates—808, 747, and 724 detained minors, respectively.
26. Out of all the crimes that get reported, 79.5% are motor vehicle thefts.
(Pew Research Center)
As reported by property crime stats, other commonly reported property crimes include trespassing/burglary (48.5%), personal thefts/larcenies (30%), and household thefts (26.8%).
However, the clearance rate was higher for violent crimes. Law enforcement officers cleared only 18.4% of larcenies/thefts, 14.1% of burglaries, and 13.8% of motor vehicle thefts.
27. Shoplifters lift more than $13 billion worth of merchandise annually.
(HG.org Legal Resources)
The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) gives us insights into shoplifting statistics.
First, the profile of a typical shoplifter doesn’t exist. Men and women shoplift equally, and about a fourth of shoplifters are below the legal age. More than half of older lifters started doing this crime while they were teenagers.
Second, in the last five years, only 10 million people have got caught shoplifting, even though 1 in 11 people have shoplifted at least once in their lives. Additionally, only 1 in 48 lifters gets caught, and only half of those caught get prosecuted.
Third, the majority of shoplifters stop at this crime; they usually do not “evolve.” Shoplifting is a pervasive form of property crime; according to property crime facts, a total of 904,975 cases were reported in 2019.
28. Art theft results in $6 billion in stolen art in the US every year.
(HG.org Legal Resources)
Furthermore, you have only about a 10% chance of recovering the piece stolen from you. Frustrating, isn’t it? You cannot admire the work of art in fear that somebody’s skillful hands might artnap it and hold it for ransom.
29. The average value per stolen vehicle was $8,886.
(FBI, Insurance Information Institute, RMIIA)
Unfortunately, car owners are growing complacent and leaving their keys inside a car, which a thief passing by cannot help but notice. Motor vehicle theft statistics show that a staggering number of 229,339 motor vehicles were stolen this way between 2016 and 2018.
Ford Pickup and Chevrolet Full Size Pick-Up were the two most stolen cars in the US in 2020—44,014 and 40,968 cases, respectively.
So, if you own one of the freshest machine models on the block (and even if your ride is an old, beat-up one), consider getting a car security alarm; it might save you the headache.
Property Crime—the Bottom Line
Although the United States’ crime rates have been decreasing since the early 1990s, property crime facts show that crime is still running rampant. Law enforcement agencies are quicker to look into violent crimes, while property crimes rarely get reported and even more seldom solved.
However, this is not an indication that property crimes are less dangerous. After all, they threaten our security in our own home, our cars, or on our land.
These crimes are mainly preventable. Preventing burglary, for example, requires that you start thinking like a thief, eliminate all the things that could make breaking into your home, and purchase some security devices.
People Also Ask
What is the most common property crime?
In the US, there were 5.086.096 reported cases of larceny-theft in 2019, which makes this form of property crime most common. Among larceny-theft changes, the most common was the theft of different items from vehicles, with 1,121,083 reported cases. Shoplifting was the second most common type of property crime, as people reported 904,975 cases.
What are examples of property crimes?
There are various definitions of property crime. In the FBI’s UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) Program, property crime is “taking of money or property without force or threat of force against the victims,” and property crime includes the offenses of motor vehicle theft, arson, larceny-theft, and burglary. Arson is included, even if victims may be subjected to physical force because this offense involves property destruction.
What city in the US has the highest crime rate?
The most dangerous American city is Detroit, Michigan, with a violent crime rate of 19.5 per 1,000 residents. The total number of property crimes reported in this city was 28,687, and the number of violent crimes was 13,088. According to the numbers, you have a 1 in 51 chance of being a victim in Detroit.
What cities have the worst property crimes?
These were the cities with the most property crime in 2018: Honolulu, Hawaii, with 28,886 (70.8% of the state total), Las Vegas, Nevada, with 46,673 (63.1%), Anchorage, Alaska, with 14,389 (59.1%), Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with 5,288 (34.7%), Providence, Rhode Island, with 5,679 (32.3%), Wichita, Kansas, with 22,011 (28.7%), Cheyenne, Wyoming, with 2,559 (24.8% of state total), and Memphis, Tennessee, with 41,779 (21.8%).
Which property crime exhibits the highest clearance rate?
FBI reports that only 17.2% of property crimes got solved through arrest or exceptional means. The “exceptional means” mean that the perpetrator’s name and location are known, there is enough evidence for the arrest, or law enforcement couldn’t arrest the offender due to specific circumstances.
Furthermore, 23.8% of all arsons, 18.4% of larceny thefts, 14.1% of burglaries, and 13.8% of motor vehicle thefts got cleared through arrest or exceptional means.
How can we prevent property crime?
Keep all the point entries to your property locked, especially at night. Don’t forget to lock your tool shed and garage, as these get vandalized very often and can even serve as an entry to your home or provide a thief with the tools necessary to break in.
Consider investing in home security (motion lights, security alarms, safety locks); the options should be widely available in every city.
Don’t ever leave your trash out on display, especially if you’ve bought valuable electronics. Throw that flat-screen TV box into the recycling right away, or you risk losing both the TV and the money.
As property crime statistics have proven, the chances of you getting back the stolen property are insignificant. So beware.
- Criminal Defense Lawyer
- Cuny Academic Works
- HG.org Legal Resources
- HG.org Legal Resources
- Insurance Information Institute
- Pew Research Center
- Pew Research Center
- PI Now
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime