More than 1.2 million burglaries occurred in the United States in 2018, which is lower than the previous year’s data by 3.3% but still presents a scary reality for the individuals, families and businesses targeted by burglars.
Burglary is considered a property crime, meaning that it does not have a violent component, but it still is an unsettling experience for anybody who has been through it.
That’s one reason why the residential security market is projected to expand to about $75 billion by 2023.
What stories can the most recent available data tell us about this type of crime, where it’s most common and what methods individuals and businesses are using to protect themselves?
U.S. Burglary Rates & Statistics
As previously referenced, 1.2 million burglaries were known to law enforcement in 2018. Compared to the previous year, this represents an 11.9% decline in the number of burglaries reported. [FBI 2018 Crime in the United States]
Numbers and rates of burglary have declined pretty consistently over the past couple of decades, with the number dropping by 44.2% between 2009 and 2018.
Generally, property crimes are much more common than violent crimes, and burglary is more common than auto theft, another type of property crime. But rates of larceny-theft are the highest of all crimes tracked by the FBI. Larceny-theft occurs at nearly triple the rate of burglary.
Like most other types of crimes, all three categories of property crime have gotten less common over the past 10 years, but the decline in burglary rates was the highest with burglary falling by 52% between 2009 and 2018.
Of the seven major types of crimes the FBI reports data for on an annual basis, burglary is the second most common with only larceny-theft being more frequent.
The number of crimes known to police represents only a fraction of all burglaries that took place in 2018 though. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ criminal victimization report for 2018 indicated that less than half of the burglaries that occurred were reported to police.
Where Do Burglaries Happen?
While the nation as a whole has seen burglary rates decline in recent years, several states have rates that are higher than the overall national rate, though most of the states have seen the burglary rate fall, mirroring the overall U.S. drop.
A total of 23 states have burglary rates that are higher than the overall U.S. average, and the nation’s leader, New Mexico, has a rate more than double the national burglary rate.
Only one state, Alaska (+4.8%), has seen the population-adjusted burglary rate climb over the past decade, and for many states, burglary rates today are less than half what they were 10 years ago.
Comparing communities of different sizes, burglaries are most common in cities outside of larger metro areas and least common in rural areas.
Houston has the highest burglary rate among cities, and several other Texas cities are in the top 25.
When & How Do Burglaries Happen?
The majority of burglaries target residences as opposed to restaurants, offices, shops, government buildings and other locations. But burglaries at non-residential locations tend to be more financially costly.
About 2 in 3 burglaries in the U.S. target homes, with 1 in 3 of all reported burglaries striking homes during the day.
Nonresidential burglaries tend to involve higher-value hauls for criminals, with the average nonresidential burglary involving a loss of $3,394 compared to $2,785 for the average residential burglary.
Burglaries spike during the summer months, and July and August typically have the highest number of home burglaries. February has the fewest, likely because in addition to being a winter month, it’s also the shortest. [SecurAmerica]
Most burglaries reported to police involve forcible entry, though many include burglars entering through unlocked doors or windows.
About 3 in 4 burglars say the first room they strike is the bedroom, followed by the study (26%) and the living room (19%). [NBC New York]
The use of force varies depending on the size of the community, with the rate of open-door or open-window burglaries being the highest in mid-major cities with populations between 100,000 and 249,999.
Home Security Systems & Trends
It’s common for homes to be repeatedly targeted by burglars if they’ve been successful once. Some studies have indicated that a tiny percentage (1.2%) of homes account for nearly one-third of all residential burglaries. That’s why home security is crucial to protecting your property and family.
The global home security system marketplace was valued at an estimated $41 billion in 2017 and should reach nearly $75 billion by 2023, but the majority of U.S. households don’t yet have any home security products.
Home security system sales are projected to grow about 10.4% every year through 2023. [Markets and Markets]
About 62% of homes don’t have any home security products, but nearly 1 in 5 have video cameras or video doorbells.
Younger people are more likely to have some home security products, with only 59% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 saying they don’t have home security, compared to 62% of 35- to 54-year-olds and 65% of those 55 and older. [Safety.com]
How Can You Protect Your Home?
There are several common-sense ways to ensure that your home is not an easy target and that if you ever do fall victim to a burglar, that person can be caught before they strike another home — or even your home a second time.
Make sure doors and windows are locked. A shocking number of burglaries occur without any forcible entry, which means the burglar came in through an unlocked point of entry, like a door or window. Get into the habit of checking before bed and ensuring you lock the door whenever you leave the house.
Don’t make your home an easy mark. Burglary is a crime of convenience, and if you can make it seem like it’ll be more trouble than it’s worth, they’ll likely move on. So consider keeping some lights on at night and setting lights, TVs or radios to switch on and off when you’re not home.
Install security cameras. The presence of cameras makes your home less convenient, as it will be more secure and will increase the chances of the burglar being caught and arrested. Consider a combination of different types of cameras, including doorbell cameras and others mounted at doors and the corners of your home.
Don’t let them hide. Trim trees and bushes around the entry point to your house where burglars could crouch to escape detection, and ensure all exterior doors are equipped with best motion sensor lights outdoor.
Make friends with your neighbors. Most burglaries occur during the daytime, and if you have a good relationship with your neighbors, they’ll be able to tell if there’s strange activity going on around your home or if they see someone who isn’t usually there.
Invest in other high-tech security products. Cameras are not the only security products you should consider to protect your home. Smart systems like interior and exterior lighting can be set to activate at certain times of the day to make your home look as if someone is there and make it more difficult for a burglar or other criminal to learn your habits.
You don’t have to answer the door, but make it clear you’re home if someone knocks. In many cases, burglars will try opening or knocking on doors to see if someone is home. If you’re fearful of answering the door to a person you don’t know, you should loudly make your presence known.
Do your homework. Inviting a service inside your home to clean the carpets? Investigate their hiring practices, and if possible, find out the names of the people who will be coming into your home. In many burglaries, the perpetrators were people like delivery workers, handymen or others who had recently been inside the home.
While most service workers are honest and simply want to provide the service you’re paying for, if you don’t find an online presence for any potential provider, that’s often a sign that they are less than reputable.
Hide high-value items. Avoid making it possible to see that big new TV in your living room from the street, and consider installing a safe or lockbox. And be sure to change your locks when you move into a new place. Also invest in best fireproof safe for important documents.
If you don’t already have it, install central air-conditioning. Window AC units are easy to remove, particularly on the first floor, and would give a burglar a very large access point.
Get at least one dog. Barking dogs are a major deterrent to criminals who don’t want your dog, friendly or otherwise, to alert you to their presence.
While burglary has been getting less common in the U.S. over the past several years, the best way to avoid falling victim is to consider common-sense ways of securing your home, which could include high- and low-tech options that don’t have to break the bank.