How safe do you feel in your home?
While many likely answer “safe” or “very safe,” the truth is that burglaries are an all-too-common occurrence in the United States.
While burglaries and trespassing declined 20% from 2019 to 2020¹, this was likely due to COVID-19 and people sheltering at home. As more of us return to the office and spend less time at home, new opportunities arise for burglars.
It’s not fun to think that strangers might be sizing up our homes and looking for weaknesses. However, knowing what burglars tend to look for when casing a home can make a world of difference to your safety.
After investing in your home via bank loans, savings, and homeowners insurance, you’ll also want the peace of mind knowing how to protect your stuff (and space) from looters.
To help understand the patterns and prevalence of burglars, we’ve compiled a list of statistics from the FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics to show how burglaries happen—and offer tips to prevent them.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is burglary?
- Home burglary statistics
- Home burglary stats by state
- Property crime statistics
- So, how do you prevent a burglary?
- Does homeowners insurance cover break-ins?
- How do I make an insurance claim after a burglary?
What is burglary?
The FBI defines burglary as unlawful entry into a building with the intent to commit a crime (typically theft). Burglary falls under the category of property crime, which involves stolen or damaged property with or without the threat or use of force.
Burglary vs. robbery vs. home invasion
While these terms may seem similar, there are distinct differences between them.
- Burglary: A burglary involves illegal entry into a building whether or not anything is stolen. Burglary is a crime against a building, however odd that sounds.
- Robbery: A robbery involves taking property from a person with the threat or use of force. Robbery is a crime against a person.
- Home invasion: A home invasion involves forcible entry into an occupied residence with the intent to commit a crime, such as assault.
Home burglary statistics
With all the work you’ve put into furnishing, styling, sprucing up, and insuring your home, of course you want to know that you and your belongings are safe.
So what can recent statistics tell us about burglaries?
COVID-19 has skewed crime statistics a bit, as recent burglary and crime trends reflect the unique impact of the pandemic. (A burglar is likely less eager to try your front door if they think you’re working from home, or camped out binging Netflix.) In some cases, we relied on data that pre-dates the pandemic, with the hope of showing a more accurate depiction of key burglary trends in recent years.
When do burglaries happen?
Burglaries are the second most common type of property crime after larceny.
- Burglaries happen once every 30 seconds on average in the U.S.²
- Most break-ins occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.³
- The FBI reported 290,909 daytime burglaries compared to 195,884 nighttime burglaries in 2019.²
- A household member is home during roughly 28% of burglaries.⁴
- Most burglaries occur during July and August, while February is the month with the least amount of burglaries.⁵
How do burglaries happen?
Burglaries can happen in a number of ways—from leaving a garage door open to having an unsecured doggy door. Here are a few of the most common forms of entry burglars use to get into a home.
- 34% of burglars enter through an unlocked front door.⁴
- 23% of burglars entered a home through a first-floor window.⁴
- 22% of burglars entered through a back door.⁴
- Second-floor windows were the least common form of entry for burglars, with only 2% of home break-ins occurring this way.⁴
- 100% of convicted burglars surveyed said they knocked on the front door of a home before breaking in.⁶
- The average burglary lasts 10 minutes or less.²
- 50.1% of the 761,712 burglaries reported to the FBI in 2020 were conducted by someone known to the victim, such as a family member, acquaintance, or significant other.⁷
- A survey of convicted burglars found they avoided homes with a large dog.⁶
- Homes without a home security system were 300% more likely to be burglarized.⁸
- Of homeowners who have experienced more than one break-in, the second happens rather quickly after the first. For 25% of homeowners, the second break-in happened within a week of the first. For 51% of homeowners, a second break-in occurred within a month of the first.⁹
What rooms do burglars target?
A news station in New York surveyed¹⁰ convicted burglars serving sentences in New York and New Jersey to discover what areas of the home they were most likely to target. Here’s what the report uncovered.
- About 75% of burglars targeted the bedroom as the first place they’d look for valuables.¹⁰
- 26% of burglars said they would search an office or study for valuables.¹⁰
- Nearly 16% of burglars said they would search a homeowner’s bathroom for valuables.¹⁰
Home burglary statistics by state
While you might have expected the states with the highest burglary rates to be those with large metropolitan areas, you may be surprised to learn that New York and California do not top the list.
- New Mexico had the highest burglary rate in 2020, with 648.8 burglaries per 100,000 residents.¹¹
- The state with the second highest burglary rate in 2020 was Oklahoma. The Sooner State reported 613.3 burglaries per 100,000 residents in 2020.¹¹
- New Hampshire had the lowest burglary rate in 2020, with 103.3 burglaries per 100,000 residents.¹¹
- In 2020, Hot Springs, Arkansas, had the highest burglary rate out of all metropolitan areas in the United States. The area experienced 1,202.9 burglaries per 100,000 residents.¹²
- Lake Charles, Louisiana, had the second highest metropolitan area burglary rate with 1,065.7 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.¹²
The table below breaks down the number of reported burglary cases by state.
|State||Total number of reported burglaries in 2020||State||Total number of reported burglaries in 2020|
|South Carolina||23,377||North Dakota||3,196|
|Minnesota||17,370||District of Columbia||1,964|
Home burglary statistics by year
Burglary rates in recent years have actually been on the decline and one reason for the downtick is the pandemic. Here’s what you should know about recent trends.
- There were 522,426 burglary incidents reported in 2020.⁷
- In a study looking at weekly crime rates in 29 U.S. cities, the residential burglary rate was 9% lower in the first half of 2021—2,283 fewer residential burglaries—than the year before.¹⁴
- The prevalence of burglary and trespassing declined 20% from 2019 to 2020.¹
- With more people sheltering at home during the pandemic, home burglaries dropped by 24% while commercial burglaries and car thefts rose by around 38% on average for 25 of the largest U.S. cities.¹⁵
- Before the pandemic, burglary rates had already been on the decline. There were 1,401,840 reported burglaries in 2017, 1,230,149 burglaries in 2018, and 1,117,696 burglaries in 2019.²
Property crime statistics
Burglary is one category of property crime, which also includes larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Here’s a closer look at recent property crime statistics in recent years.
- The majority of burglaries occurred in the southern U.S. (47%) in 2020, compared to the west (28.8%), midwest (18.9%), and northeast (9.6%).¹⁶
- In 2020, the average value of property stolen from residences during burglaries was $7,937.¹⁷
- In 2020, around 33,870 burglaries in the United States took place in commercial or office buildings.¹⁸
- 44% of burglaries involve destruction, damage, or vandalism of property.²
- In 2019, more than $13.3 billion in property was reported stolen across the U.S. and only 28.9% was recovered.²
- One-third of burglars surveyed in the United Kingdom said they targeted identification documents like passports, driver’s licenses, credit cards, and bank statements.¹⁹
- Money was the most common type of property stolen in 2019—and also the least recovered, with a recovery rate of just 2.6%.²
- In 2019, the estimated property crime rate was 2,109.9 offenses per 100,000 U.S. citizens.²
- Out of all property crimes, break-ins are the most-feared crime—even more so than having property stolen.²⁰
- The total number of burglary arrests in 2019 was 171,590.²
- 55.7% of burglaries involved forcible entry.²
So how do you prevent burglary?
There are always precautions you can take to help protect your home and your belongings from theft. Here are a few tips.
Keep your vacation plans to yourself
Posting about your vacation plans on social media is a great way to let burglars know that your home will be vacant. Consider waiting until after your amazing trip to post all your pics on Instagram, especially if your profile isn’t private.
Ask a trusted friend or family member to check on your home, pick up mail, and bring in packages while you’re away to make it look like someone’s home.
Install a home security system
A proper home security system is obviously a great line of defense, though it might be too expensive for some budgets. That said, installing a home security system can help save you up to 20% on home insurance premiums.
Simpler home security features like a camera, or even a basic home-security yard sign, can often deter would-be burglars from attempting to break in.
Hang a “Beware of Dog” sign
Just like in The Sandlot, a “Beware of Dog” sign is often enough to scare off a potential trespasser. However, it helps to have… an actual dog. Large dogs were a deterrent for many convicted burglars surveyed in a Portland news station study⁶ on how burglaries happen.
Keep the radio on
Extra paranoid? A good habit to get into is leaving a battery-powered radio on when you leave the house. The sound of voices can be a simple deterrent to potential burglars.
Secure garage doors
According to ADT, 9% of home invaders gain access through the garage. Get in the habit of closing your garage door even when you’re home and install a deadbolt on doors leading into the home from your garage. Additionally, be sure to share garage door codes only with immediate family or trusted friends.
Purchase a safe
Storing your valuables in a safe rather than in a jewelry box or drawer can be an extremely effective way to keep them secure, even if a burglar strikes. Take care to purchase a large, heavy safe that is secured to a wall or floor rather than a portable one that a burglar could easily carry out with them.
Avoid hiding valuables in obvious places
When it comes to hiding your valuables, there are a few places you should steer clear of. John Lewis Finance and St Giles Trust¹⁹ interviewed convicted burglars to find out where they typically looked for valuables.
The obvious hiding places burglars target are:
- Living room storage
- Pots and pans
- Locked safes
Non-obvious hiding places that burglars avoid are:
- Under sofas
- Cereal boxes
- Toy boxes
- Packets of pasta
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that when you cook rigatoni for dinner, you don’t end up boiling your heirloom jewelry on accident.
Does homeowners insurance cover break-ins?
We’re happy to report that homeowners insurance does cover break-ins.
Homeowners insurance offers protection for your belongings and the structure of your home in the event of a burglary.
Your policy will kick in to reimburse you for stolen property. And if your home was damaged during the invasion—broken windows or damaged walls, for instance—the dwelling portion of your homeowners insurance will help take care of repairs.
There are some categories of personal property that are paid out at lower limits. For example, the standard homeowners insurance policy has a relatively low limit of liability for stolen jewelry, generally about $1,500.
Items stolen outside of the home are also covered by homeowners insurance. So if your phone is stolen at a restaurant or your lawnmower is snatched from your shed, your homeowner’s insurance has your back.
How do I make an insurance claim after burglary?
If you’ve experienced a break-in, here are a few steps you’ll want to take as soon as possible.
- File a police report. Your insurance company will require the report to make a claim.
- Take photos and videos of the damage. This is where you’ll list every item that didn’t survive the burglary, including its value. Be sure to document the areas of your home that were damaged and where items were taken.
- Contact your insurance company. Your insurance company will be able to walk you through how to file a claim and connect you with the necessary documents. Since the last thing you want to do after a theft is spend hours on the phone with your insurance company, Lemonade makes the process of filing a theft claim so simple it can be done in seconds. Using our app, you can record a short video explaining what happened, scan the police report, and let us know what was stolen. Easy peasy.
- Make necessary home repairs. Fix broken windows or other damages to your home caused by the invasion as soon as possible. Keep any receipts from home repairs because your insurance company may reimburse you.
While the idea of a burglary can be enough to keep you up at night, we hope these statistics offered a helpful peek into the minds of burglars, and inspired some ideas about how to safeguard your home and valuables.
One way to know that you’re in good hands in the event of a burglary is to choose a homeowners or renters insurance plan that properly covers you and your property. Whether you’re an avid art collector or a purse connoisseur, Lemonade can help you craft the perfect policy to help you sleep soundly at night.
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¹Bureau of Justice Statistics
²Federal Bureau of Investigation
³Jacksonville State University
⁷Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Data Explorer
¹⁰NBC New York
¹¹Statista – Burglary Rate by State
¹²Statista – Metropolitan Areas with the Highest Burglary Rate
¹³Statista – Burglary Rate in the US Since 1999
¹⁴Council on Criminal Justice
¹⁶Statista – Percentage Distribution of Property Crime in the US by Type and Region
¹⁷Statista – Average Value of Property Stolen During Burglaries in the US
¹⁸Statista – Burglary Number by Location
¹⁹John Lewis Finance and St Giles Trust