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You might think a burglar is a sneaky character in a black stocking cap that tiptoes around at night peeking in your windows, but what actually happens during a burglary is different from that old-fashioned image. We’ve rounded up the most-surprising home burglary facts and statistics so you can take essential steps to keep your house and belongings secure.
1. Most burglaries happen in the middle of the day.
You’d imagine burglars would crave the cover of darkness, but in a 2016 burglary victimization survey, the most common time burglaries occurred was between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Nighttime burglaries—between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.—accounted for only about 17% of all burglaries. Burglars know they’ll draw less attention walking around a neighborhood or apartment complex during the day versus at night, and they know most people are at work during the day, leaving them free to slip in and out of a home uninterrupted.
Safety Tips: Always keep your doors locked when you’re not at home. It’s also a good idea to lock your doors when you are at home during the day, especially if you’re working, napping, or doing anything else that might make it hard for someone to tell you’re there. It also doesn’t hurt to leave a car parked in a conspicuous place outside. Most burglars are less likely to mess with a home that’s occupied.
2. Burglaries are more frequent during the summer months.
Warm weather isn’t just good for outdoor activities—it’s also ideal for house break-ins. Between the months of June and August, the number of burglaries rises about 10% in the US. Days are longer, meaning more daylight hours when burglars are more likely to strike. Plus, burglars are like the rest of us—they don’t want to be out walking around when it’s freezing outside.
Safety Tips: Don’t let your guard down just because the weather is nice and the sun sets later in the day. If anything, longer days open a bigger window of opportunity for criminals, so keep doors locked and watch out for suspicious activity in your neighborhood, like signs your home is being targeted for burglary.
3. More burglaries occur in rural states than in states with metropolitan hubs.
You’d expect New York and California would have more burglaries per capita, but they’re actually near the bottom of the list. In fact, New Mexico is the most burglarized state in the US, along with other rural states including Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
Safety Tips: It can be easy to think you’re safer if you don’t live near big cities, but you may actually be at higher risk for burglary. An alarm system and sturdy locks can help deter burglars and reduce that risk. There are affordable security options on the market for any budget.
4. On average, a burglary happens once every 23 seconds in the US.
According to 2017 crime statistics from the FBI, there are almost three burglaries every minute in America, making it the second-most frequent crime behind larceny-theft. When you add it up, that’s 3,757 burglaries a day.
Safety Tips: Once again, if you think you’re in the clear because burglaries happen to “other people,” it might be time to change your perspective. Fortunately, you can reduce your likelihood of becoming a target by keeping expensive toys like boats and ATVs stored out of sight and using fencing and landscaping to make it difficult to access the rear of your home. If you have a security system or a guard dog, be sure to advertise them well. Even if you don’t, adding some signs and stickers can deter a potential burglar.
Safety Tips: Avoid getting burgled by keeping valuables in a safe bolted to the floor or wall (or store them in locations where burglars are unlikely to look, like in your pantry). It’s a good idea to keep irreplaceable high-value possessions like family heirlooms in a safe deposit box at the bank.
Safety Tips: Many victims of burglary say the reason they weren’t better prepared for the theft is because they rent their home or apartment, and they felt limited on the amount of security measures they could take without breaking the lease. Fortunately, even if you’re not an owner there are plenty of things you can do to secure an apartment. Wireless security systems and cameras, door jammers, and even curtains can reduce your risk of being burglarized. Renters or homeowners insurance is also a good failsafe to protect you against loss.
7. Burglaries are decreasing across the United States.
Safety Tips: This statistic is just another one of many good reasons to get a security system. DIY options make it easier and more affordable than ever to take your home security into your own hands. Many companies allow you to mix and match devices depending on your home and your needs, so be sure to shop around.
The fact that you’re reading this article means you’re a conscientious consumer trying to protect yourself against burglary, so give yourself a pat on the back. If you’re here because a neighbor’s home was recently burgled, find out more about important steps you should take by reading What to Do When a Burglary Occurs in Your Neighborhood.
Written by Kasey Tross
Kasey is a trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a freelance writer with expertise in emergency preparedness and security. As the mother of four kids, including two teens, Kasey knows the safety concerns parents face as they raise tech-savvy kids in a connected world, and she loves to research the latest security options for her own family and for SafeWise readers. Learn more