1 in 4 Americans Aren't Planning to Protect Their Homes From Burglary This Holiday Season

Jalesa Campbell
Updated Apr 15, 2021
4 min read

Many Americans are already shopping online for the 2020 holiday season. However, a recent Safety.com survey found that nearly 1 in 4 Americans (24%) aren’t taking any steps to protect their homes from break-ins during the holiday season — not even if they’re traveling away from home. While almost half of Americans (48%) are planning to rely on home security features they already own (like door and window locks), our survey results also indicate 54 million US adults will leave their home unattended for more than a few hours during the 2020 holiday season, leaving them more vulnerable to burglaries.

Key Points:

Holiday Spending: An Estimated $57 Billion Worth of Packages Will Be Delivered

Despite the Covid-19 recession, our survey found that an estimated $57 billion in deliveries will be made during the 2020 holiday season — particularly for packages containing gifts, clothes, home decor and fitness equipment.

We found that older Americans are planning to spend more on gifts, decor, and other items this year than younger Americans. Gen X (ages 40 to 55) is leading the way with a projected spend of about $270.87 in packages, while Baby Boomers (ages 56 to 74) trail behind at about $258.26. Older Millennials (ages 31 to 39) plan to spend about $217.56 on gifts this year, and the Silent Generation (75 years or older) plans to spend about $178.18. Gen Z and younger Millennials plan to spend even less.

With Gen X planning to spend the most in package deliveries this year, they are at the greatest risk for value loss in the event of theft or burglary. And yet, many Americans are still planning to leave their homes for more than a few hours at a time, placing their deliveries and homes at risk of theft and burglary.

54 Million Homes Will Be Left Unattended During the Holidays

We asked survey participants if they planned to leave their homes unattended for more than a few hours during the holidays, and found that about 54 million are still planning to travel. With an estimated $57 billion in packages being delivered and homes left unattended, this greatly increases vulnerability for theft or burglary.

Out of all age groups, 1 in 3 Gen-Zers are planning to spend more than a few hours away from home. Survey respondents with higher incomes (more than $40,000 per year) are also more likely to leave their homes unattended.

Contrary to popular belief, most burglaries occur during the day, making it especially important for consumers to have a plan for deliveries or security measures in place if they’ll be gone for more than a few hours. Interestingly, in spite of income, more than half of Americans do not have a home security system.

Holiday Home Security: Only 38% of Americans Have a Home Security System

In 2019, we found only 38% of Americans own a home security product, and this year we found the same percentage to be true. We did see a significant difference in home security system ownership. Households earning $40,000 or more (45%) tended to have home security systems, while households earning less than $40,000 (74%) tended to not have a home security system.

In 2019, 1 in 3 survey respondents who did not own a home security system or product told us it was due to affordability, since many home security features cost at least $100, plus monthly monitoring fees.

Since the pandemic, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and have filed for unemployment. Given the economy and state that we’re in right now, many Americans may be forgoing additional expenses and seeking alternatives. And while a home security system can’t stop all burglaries, it can help to deter burglars.

44% Will Rely on Door and Window Locks, While 1 in 4 Americans Don’t Have Any Plans to Prevent Burglary

As a sweep across all generations, most plan to rely on their door and window locks for security. Baby Boomers show the greatest lean towards this method at 56%. After door and window locks, most Americans plan to use lights, have a neighbor watch their homes, arm their home security system, leave a car in the driveway, or ask a friend or family member to watch their homes. 32% of those without home security systems do not plan to do anything to prevent burglary or theft this holiday season.

Baby Boomers Appear to Be More Concerned About Preventing Burglaries, Millennials Appear to Be the Least Concerned

While Baby Boomers appear to be more concerned about preventing burglaries, Millennials appear to be the least concerned. Almost 1 in 3 Millennials say that they don’t plan to do anything, versus 1 in 4 Millennials who say they plan to have a friend or family member to help. Baby Boomers plan to be more proactive, with only about 18% saying they don’t plan to do anything.

Alternatives to Home Security Systems

For consumers looking for alternatives to a home security system, consider these strategies for preventing package theft.

  • Have your holiday packages delivered to a more secure location. If you shop on Amazon, you can use an Amazon Locker. You can also ask a trusted friend or family member to receive packages for you if their home provides more security. If you happen to live in Round Rock, Texa, the local police department is holding its fourth year of Operation Front Porch, where families can have their packages shipped directly to the police department and pick them up between specified hours.
  • Require a signature. Keep packages from being delivered to your home unless you or someone you know can sign off for it and put it inside.
  • Provide delivery instructions. USPS, Fedex, and UPS are just several carriers that allow you to leave package instructions for delivery.
  • Get delivery alerts. Have your mail carrier send you notifications as your package is on its way and when it’s delivered, so you’ll know when the package has made it home.
  • Purchase an inexpensive security camera. There are some security cameras available online for less than $50 like the Conico Outdoor Security Camera, the Wansview Outdoor Security Camera, and Wyze Cam if you need an indoor camera.
  • Try a false home security camera or yard sign. Yes, you can purchase false security cameras and yard signs online. The only catch is that some burglars are not as naive as you think, so while this is an option, weigh the worth.
  • Let Fido help. If you have a pup at home, let him or her help you guard the premises. Previous burglars have admitted that dogs are a deterrent. Most pups will let you know when someone’s outside or if something’s up.

Key Takeaway: Take Steps to Protect Your Home This Holiday Season, Especially If You’re Expecting Many Packages — Or Leaving Your Home Unattended

Most burglars are opportunists looking for an easy way to snag what they want. Put together a game plan this holiday season to protect your packages and the valuables inside your home. To help formulate your plan, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Will I be leaving my home for more than a few hours this holiday season?
  • Is there a chance that my packages will be delivered while I’m away?
  • If so, what can I do to protect them?

Remember, home security doesn’t have to be expensive — in addition to professional and DIY security systems, consider some of the cost-effective alternatives we mentioned above.

Safety and Security Reporter

Jalesa Campbell

Jalesa is one of Safety.com's staff experts on home security, natural disasters, public safety, and family safety. She's been featured on Today.com and elsewhere.

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