Formally defined as “unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft”, there are over 1 million burglaries in the U.S. each year, according to the FBI. In fact, a new burglary happens every 26 seconds.
Key burglary statistics
- 1 million burglaries took place in 2019, down 9.5% since the previous year. (FBI Crime Data)
- One burglary happens every 25.7 seconds, so approximately 3,300 per day. (FBI Crime Data)
- There were 903,627 counts of burglary in 2020, which was the lowest it’s been since 2010. (FBI Crime Data)
- 247,238 counts happened during the day at the victim’s residence.
- 194,324 counts happened at night at the victim’s residence.
- In 2020, total stolen property value in the U.S. was estimated at $971,343,741,854, with only $54,493,725,004 of that value recovered. (FBI Crime Data)
- Burglars are drawn to homes that do not have home security systems. Homes that don’t have a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized, (Alarms.org)
- 50% of burglars live less than two miles away from the home they want to steal from. (ADT)
- Most burglaries occur in the summer. (Department of Justice)
- Unfortunately, less than 30% of homes have an effective security system installed (Security.org)
- A person is home during a burglary 27% of the time. (Alarms.org)
- Someone was injured in 7.2% of all burglaries committed. (Alarms.org)
- In 85% of burglaries, the crime is committed by amateurs, often done by someone who is desperate. (ScienceDaily.com)
- Burglaries have declined by 49% in the last 20 years. (FBI Crime Data)
What is burglary and home invasion?
Burglary is a very specific crime that involves a person making an unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a separate felony or theft. The crime is frequently referred to as “breaking and entering,” although the entry into a structure does not need to be physically violent. Burglary can occur in connection with any structure, including a business or even an airplane. Home invasion involves the act of breaking into an occupied residence.
In the eyes of the law, burglary has varying degrees of severity. First, second and third degree burglaries are typically classified as felonies. A fourth degree burglary is usually a misdemeanor.
- First-degree burglary: The most serious, first-degree burglary involves harm to a victim with the use of a deadly weapon after entering a home intending to commit a theft or other crime.
- Second-degree burglary: Second-degree burglary involves entering a non-residence such as a business premise or buildings detached from homes such as sheds.
- Third-degree: This is a type of burglary without the violent consequences, often charged when there is a break-in but it is not clear why the person broke in.
- Fourth-degree: This kind of burglary generally involves removing items from areas surrounding homes and businesses such as fenced-in yards.
Burglary statistics 2022
The FBI has not yet released its comprehensive annual crime statistics for 2020. However, the FBI’s Preliminary Uniform Crime Report for the period from January to June, 2020, shows a decline in the number of total property crimes as well as violent crimes during the first six months of 2020, compared with those crimes during the first six months of 2019.
Major metropolitan crime reports also shed light on current trends. The New York Police Department (NYPD) reports a 32.7% increase in burglaries from 2021 to 2022. In just the last month alone, the NYPD reported 1,103 burglaries in the state, up 36.5% from 808 burglaries in April 2021. This contrasts with the 12.8% decline in burglaries from 2020 to 2021.
Chicago Police Department (CPD) data shows similar spikes in burglaries. CPD reports a 35% increase in burglaries from 2021 (1,691) to 2022 (2,278) 127 burglaries were committed city-wide in the last week alone (April 25th, 2022 to May 1st, 2022), marking a 19% increase from the same week in 2021. Los Angeles experienced similar but less dramatic declines in burglaries for the same periods.
Burglary statistics over time
Burglary is a form of home invasion which has evolved as a very specific and defined crime in the United States, with varying degrees of severity. Data from the FBI shows a small but steady decline in the number of burglaries over the past several years, as well as the percentage of burglaries involving forceable entry.
|Year||Burglaries||Burglaries involving forcible entry||Average amount of loss per burglary|
What you need to know about burglary
The fact that burglaries are declining on the whole is good news for homeowners. The burglary rate in the United States is currently one-fifth of what it was in 1980.
When do burglaries happen?
Although many might assume that most burglaries naturally occur at night when burglars can operate under the cover of darkness, in fact, the opposite is true. According to ADT, the majority of burglaries happen during the day when parents are at work and children are at school, usually from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., and especially around lunchtime.
Burglaries are more likely to occur in urban settings. The size of a community makes a difference, as crime rates are generally higher in urban than rural areas. The rates of both property and violent crime are three to four times greater in the largest U.S. cities than rural rates.
Past studies by the Justice Department revealed that burglary victims knew the burglar 30% of the time and the burglar was a stranger in 24% of the crimes. Most of the time (46%), the burglar’s identity was never established.
Who do burglaries happen to?
There are significant differences in the impact that home break-ins and burglaries have on various demographic groups:
- A 2018 Bureau of Justice Statistics study reveals that renters are more likely to experience burglaries and home invasions than those who own homes. The highest incidence of break ins typically occur in small, two to four unit apartment buildings.
- Students are burglary victims more often than other groups. It’s suspected that students are frequent targets because of the desirable electronics they are assumed to own. The elderly are the next most likely targets. Middle-aged people are least likely to be burglary victims.
- Two racial groups experience the highest victimization rates across all forms of crime – Native Americans and those reporting two or more races.
How do burglaries happen?
While burglaries have declined over the past years. Understanding how burglaries occur can help in prevention efforts:
- Burglaries take much less time than most people assume. The average time it takes to commit a burglary typically ranges from 90 seconds to 12 minutes. (FBI)
- Most burglaries are not violent. One study found that actual violence or even the threat “ranged from a low of .9% in rural areas” to “a high of 7.6% in highly urban areas.” (OJP.gov)
Burglary statistics state-by-state
The tables below provide a current snapshot of burglary prevalence across the country.
In 2019, the estimated number of burglaries declined in every region of the country — 13.5% in the Northeast, 10.3% in the Midwest, 9.4% in the West, and 8.4% in the South. (FBI)
The overall decline of burglaries for the United States for this period was 9.9%. (FBI)
This pattern of decline was similar for all property crimes nationwide, which decreased 4.1% when compared with the 2018 estimate. (FBI)
Top 10 cities with the highest total number of burglaries
Somewhat surprisingly, Houston held the top spot for the highest total number of burglaries in 2021, followed by Austin and Seattle.
|Houston, TX||15,857||14,664||7.52% decrease|
|Seattle, WA||10,469||9,692||7.42% decrease|
|Las Vegas, NV||7,302||7,822||7.12% increase|
|San Antonio, TX||7,954||7,386||7.14% decrease|
|Dallas, TX||9,439||6,866||27.26% decrease|
|Oklahoma City, OK||6,064||6,237||2.85% increase|
|Denver, CO||5,227||5,834||11.61% increase|
|Memphis, TN||5,859||5,288||9.75% decrease|
|Columbus, OH||5,577||4,830||13.39% decrease|
|Austin, TX||4,786||4,797||0.23% increase|
Burglary rate by region
According to FBI data, the region with the highest burglary rate in 2021 was the East South Central region, followed closely by the West South. The lowest burglary rate is in the Middle Atlantic region.
|Region||Population||Burglary rate per 100,000||Yearly burglary rate increase|
|United States overall||328, 687, 501||340.5||-9.9|
|East South Central||19,176,181||469.6||-10.7|
|West South Central||40,619,450||456.7||-6.2|
|West North Central||21,426,573||345.5||-7|
|East North Central||46,992,431||301.4||-12.2|
Burglary rate state by state and in Puerto Rico
The state with the highest burglary rate in 2021 was New Mexico, according to information released by the FBI. Puerto Rico and New Hampshire round out the list with the lowest burglary rates. These rates differ from the earlier table by assessing the total population and burglary rate per 100,000 people, versus the total number of burglaries overall.
|State||Population||Burglary rate per 100,000||Yearly burglary rate increase|
|District of Columbia||705,749||261.1||2.5|
Common burglary tactics and targets
Property with high resale value isn’t the only thing that’s commonly stolen. Household items that can be transported quickly, easily and with little trace of the burglar are targeted, too.
ADT data shows that the most common items burglars take from homes are:
- Easily taken and leaves little trace.
- Prescription drugs.
- Electronics such as phones or laptops.
- Jewelry or other high-value personal items, such as furs.
A news team surveyed 500 convicted burglars in New York and New Jersey and discovered their common tactics.
- 42% of burglars surveyed said they broke in through an unlocked window, followed by 39% getting in through an unlocked door.
- Over half of the respondents said alarm systems aren’t that much of a problem.
- 35% said they could finish before the police arrived.
- 21% said they could disarm it.
- 18% said they would enter in a way that wouldn’t set it off.
- 37% of respondents said a video camera outside the house would stop them.
- 72% of burglars favored a house over an apartment as their target.
- 29% of respondents said they knocked on the door first.
- Many chose to assume a fake identity, such as a delivery man, landscaper, cable repairman or someone looking for their dog.
- Dogs at home didn’t do much to deter the surveyed burglars; in fact, some reported they brought peanut butter or treats to distract the dog.
How burglary will affect your home insurance
Standard homeowners insurance will typically cover you for damage to your home and the loss of stolen personal items, with theft a common covered loss, but there are limitations depending upon the extent of coverage you have purchased:
- Actual Cash Value (ACV): This type of coverage compensates you for the depreciated value of stolen items. A laptop purchased five years ago for $2,000 may today only be valued at $400 according to depreciation tables maintained by insurers.
- Replacement Cost Value (RCV): If you have a more expensive Replacement Cost Value (RCV) policy, you may be compensated the amount required to buy a replacement laptop at today’s cost. Keep in mind that your additional reimbursement above the ACV will usually be supplied by the insurance company as recoverable depreciation.
- Scheduled personal property: If you have lots of expensive items, such as jewelry or art, you will likely need to add coverage for those items onto your policy with scheduled personal property.
- Deductible: The amount you set for your home insurance deductible will have a big impact on the price you pay for coverage. Talk to your agent about finding the right balance between your risk of burglary versus overpaying for coverage.
Finally, home insurance rates will typically rise after a burglary if you file a claim. Increases can vary depending upon where you live in the country, whether you are located in a high crime area and depending on the value of the claim loss. Look to determine if you can minimize these increases with discounts offered, for example, by installing security equipment.
There are some steps you can take to mitigate your risks for becoming a burglary victim.
How to prevent burglary
There are many simple steps and precautions that can be taken by homeowners to help reduce the risk of burglary.
- One of the biggest deterrents from the surveyed burglars was “nosy neighbors,” meaning neighbors who make themselves known to any strangers who may be near your property when you aren’t home. If your neighborhood has a ‘watch’ program, join it. Or let your neighbors know when you’ll be gone so they can keep an eye out.
- Occupied residences typically don’t make good targets for burglars, either. When you are away from home, make your residence appear occupied with automatic lights that turn on and off at normal intervals. Leave a car in your driveway if possible.
- Make sure all of your outside locks are in working order. Lock all doors and windows before leaving or retiring for the night. Check that your garage door is closed and locked.
- Take care that you’ve arranged with your post office to hold your mail when you are away. Ask a neighbor to check your front door area to make sure a package hasn’t been delivered when you are away.
- Arrange to have someone tend to your yard and mow your lawn if you are away for a lengthy period.
- Don’t leave house keys in “secret spots.” Burglars will check under your doormat.
- Make sure that everyone in your family refrains from sharing any of your travel plans on social media.
- Invest in good exterior lighting. Install motion-sensitive lights in several locations on all sides of your house.
There is good reason to take an extra step and consider investing a bit in your safety: