Burglaries are one of the most common crimes. The thought of someone burglarizing your home can be a scary one. But it’s more important to be proactive and prepared for the unthinkable. We gathered everything you need to know about burglaries nationwide and what to do if it hits home.
First — the basics
It’s easy to get terms and definitions misunderstood when defining burglary and other crimes. Here are a few definitions and examples to help explain the differences.
What is burglary?
A burglary is illegally entering a home or business with the intention of committing a crime such as theft or robbery. Criminals don’t need to break and enter for it to be considered a burglary. Any entry without permission, such as opening a door or garage, is deemed burglary.
What’s the difference between burglary and breaking and entering?
Burglary is often referred to as “breaking and entering,” but they’re pretty different. Breaking and entering is entering by force, such as kicking a door open or picking a lock. On the other hand, a criminal doesn’t need to forcefully enter to commit burglary. They can commit burglary by simply opening the door without force or damage.
What’s the difference between burglary and theft?
Theft is when a criminal intends to steal belongings without permission. Burglary and theft can happen simultaneously or as independent crimes. Someone can burglarize a home without committing theft or robbery, and someone can commit theft without burglarizing property. Think about identity theft, car theft, and larceny, for example.
The latest burglary statistics
- According to the FBI, there were 1,117,696 reported burglaries in 2019. However, burglaries have been on a steady decline since 2010.
- 2019 burglary victims saw an estimated $3 billion in property losses total. The average victim lost an estimated $2,661.
- Nearly 63% of burglaries took place at residential properties.
When do most burglaries occur?
Most burglaries happen between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Experts believe that the reason for such odd times is because most people are at work. Thieves pay close attention to the patterns of targeted families and homes, such as the time they leave and return. They also found that most burglaries happen in the warmer seasons. But the colder months and decline in burglaries aren’t a good enough reason to let your guard down against home invasions. It’s essential to look for other signs that your home may be a burglar’s next target.
How do home invasions happen?
In 2019, over 55% of burglaries involved forcible entry. Nearly 38% were unlawful entries, meaning that even though the burglar didn’t enter by breaking a window or door, they still entered without permission. Of all burglaries, only 6.5% were attempted but unsuccessful forcible entry.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to help prevent criminals from successfully burglarizing your home or committing other crimes. Here are a few tips and reminders for the best home security:
- Remember to lock all doors and windows each night and when you leave home.
- Don’t leave your windows open for burglars to get a clear view of your home. Keep curtains and blinds slightly open to let in light, but give lurking thieves a limited view.
- Keep your yard tidy, and don’t give burglars any hiding spots. Outdoor lights and limiting the number of tall plants or bushes help.
- Don’t allow packages or mail to pile up in front of your home while you’re away. Pause delivery or ask a trusted friend to pick up your mail while you’re gone.
- Upgrade your locks and lighting for more advanced features, especially if they’re worn or not working correctly.
Cities with the most burglaries
We narrowed down the top five cities with the most burglaries in 2019. Even though these numbers can be overwhelming, each city is rolling out new crime prevention tools to improve safety. It’s also important to note that these cities have larger populations than other cities and states, and the overall numbers haven’t been adjusted to reflect size.
Los Angeles, CA
Las Vegas, NV
In 2019, Houston had the highest number of burglaries nationwide. The city is taking great strides to decrease citywide crime with the police initiative, “Keep Houston Safe.” The Houston Police Department is partnering with residents and businesses to give the community online resources for burglaries, personal safety, shootings, and more. Houston hopes to prevent crimes with “Keep Houston Safe” instead of simply responding after a crime is committed.
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles has the second-highest number of burglaries but has also seen a decrease. Last year’s pandemic led to fewer LA burglaries, rapes, and property crimes. However, homicides, shootings, and car thefts increased. Since vaccinations are on the rise, there are concerns that crime numbers will increase. Despite the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget cut and layoffs, it hopes to keep crime rates low with prevention resources, including burglary prevention tips.
Las Vegas, NV
Even though Las Vegas had over 10,000 burglaries before the pandemic, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has a mission: “To be the safest community in America.” The city has ten crime prevention specialists to help reduce crime in Las Vegas neighborhoods. Las Vegas also provides a home security checklist and crime prevention safety tips online to help residents stay safe.
Phoenix is focused on reducing crime in the area. The city has a new crime prevention initiative called “Virtual Block Watch” for residents to register their security cameras with the Phoenix Police Department. Camera registration lets detectives know where they may be able to find footage if a crime occurs. Phoenix also has a program, Citizens Offering Police Support, to assist police with investigations, traffic, administration, and the crime lab.
Dallas is using a few crime prevention tools in hopes of lowering citywide burglaries and other crimes in the coming months. Dallas’ crime prevention app, iWatch Dallas, lets residents report suspicious activity, videos, and photos. The app also has a real-time anonymous chat, GPS, and emergency alerts sent straight from the police. The Dallas Police Department reviews all tips and reports. The city also has several programs to help families of all ages do their part in preventing crime and teach them what to do if they notice suspicious activity.
The latest burglaries by state
The latest FBI statistics shared the number of burglaries by state in 2019. The highest number of burglaries comes from some of the most populated states, including California, Florida, and Texas.
Adding up burglary property loss costs
What are the chances of your house being robbed?
There’s no way to tell your chances of robbery or burglary, but one of the best ways to prevent burglaries and stop lurking thieves is a home security system. Usually, when criminals see security yard signs, cameras, and other equipment, they think twice because the chances of getting caught are higher. Some recommend installing fake equipment to lure thieves, but we recommend installing a system so that you have everything necessary to signal for help in case there’s an intrusion or other emergency.
The average cost of a home security system is $200 for a system and $10-$35 per month, which is much cheaper than the average property loss from a burglary.
Signs that a burglar may be targeting your home
Some signs aren’t as easily recognizable as others. These are just a few warning signs that lurking thieves may be watching:
- Unfamiliar cars or people targeting your home.
- Unexpected visitors trying to conduct a survey or solicitations.
- Strangers asking for emergency help.
- Flyers or notes outside of your home.
- Someone takes pictures of your home and walks away.
If you notice suspicious activity or become concerned, don’t hesitate to call your local police department for assistance and more presence in your neighborhood.
What to do if you’re a victim of a burglary
Burglaries are unpredictable, and knowing what to do after can be overwhelming. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to help get life back on track:
- Leave immediately and Call 911 from a safe place to report the burglary and get further police assistance.
- Contact your home insurance company to report the burglary and start the claims process for any damage or stolen items.
- Begin repairing your property after the police and insurance agent say it is safe to do so. Hold off until you’re told it’s OK. You’ll want to avoid contaminating evidence.
- Call banks, doctors, or other offices to report any theft.
- Inform your neighbors of the burglary to help keep them safe and on the lookout for suspicious activity.
Talking to kids and teens about burglaries and intruders
Preparing your children for dangerous times is tough. Parents juggle the thought of making their kids feel safe and preparing them for the unexpected. When you’re ready, here are a few talking points from experts to keep in mind when preparing your kids for burglaries, robberies, and other crimes that can be scary.
- Create a family plan of what to do in case there’s a burglary. Practice it often.
- Choose a safe space in the house, and have a backup just in case the intruder is there.
- Teach kids what you would recommend for them to do if they come in contact with the intruder.
- Show your kids how to best call for help, especially if you have a professionally monitored security system.
- Plan an escape route and code for kids to know when to leave the home.