Home invasion and burglary statistics are not just a collection of numbers. They are an excellent insight into current and past trends and can provide you with a better understanding of how burglars think, act, and what they are looking for.
We have looked into many different studies, polls, and data aggregations to find the trends and interesting bits of information we share with you in this write-up.
Many of these sources offer insight into different aspects of home invasions and burglaries in general, so you will see some studies referenced more than once.
- 1 When Do Burglaries Happen
- 2 How Burglaries Happen
- 3 Where Burglaries Happen
- 4 Burglaries Reported to the Police
- 5 Burglaries Solved
When Do Burglaries Happen
How Often Do Burglaries Happen
One burglary happens every 35 seconds. According to the data from the FBI, there have been 899,700 burglaries in 2021, which amounts to a little over 1.7 burglaries happening every minute.
However, the good news is that burglary numbers have been decreasing steadily over the years.
|Year||Number of burglaries||% change compared to previous year|
According to an analysis by the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, once a property is burglarized, there is a higher risk of repeat burglarization.
The data suggested that the odds of a repeat burglary are the highest during the first week after the initial breaking.
The data shows that approximately 60% of repeat burglaries occurred within one month of the previous burglary, and about 10% occurred during the second month of the initial breaking-in.
Interestingly enough, after a short period of several months, burglars may again check on the property they have previously broken into. Around month 5 of the initial break-in, there is a higher risk of repeat burglarization, after which the risk of a second burglarization is significantly lower.
That said, there is some variance depending on the type of crime, area, and more.
For example, when comparing the data collected from Tallahassee, Florida, and Merseyside, England, we see some significant differences in numbers, as shown in the table below.
|Area||% of repeat burglaries in the first week||% of repeat burglaries in the first month|
|Tallahassee, Florida||25% within a week||51% within a month|
|Merseyside, England||11% within one week||33% within one month|
Upon more in-depth analysis, we can discover an interesting trend.
The analysis by the POP Center took a look at one study that analyzed 10,828 burglaries.
It was found that 18% of the victims suffered two or more burglaries in the same year—a relatively small percentage.
However, those 18% of the victims accounted for 39% of all burglaries that occurred during the same year.
This means if homeowners take at least some safety precautions after their home has been burglarized, the number of burglaries could be cut down significantly.
By Time of Day
Unlike what we see on TV shows and movies, most burglaries do not happen during the night (when the homeowner may be home).
Most burglaries happen during the day. According to the FBI, in 2019, 290,909 burglaries happened during the day compared to 195,884 during the night.
What’s more, the majority of burglaries happen in the period between 10 am and 3 pm. During this time, people are often not home, which gives burglars ample time to seek valuables without risking confrontation.
This also coincides with the data collected by the NBC I-Team’s survey, which showed that 61% of burglars preferred to break in during the morning and 37% late at night.
Another proof of that is the fact that most burglaries happen when there is nobody inside.
According to the data provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nobody is home during 72.4% of the break-ins, and a home member is inside in 27.6% of all break-ins.
Identical times were discovered by the KGW’s investigating team that surveyed 86 convicted burglars. They reported that the preferred time to break into a house is between 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm or between 2 pm and 3 pm.
By Day of the Week
The data suggests that burglaries are more likely to happen during the weekdays. Most burglaries happen on Mondays. Sundays are the days when the least amount of burglaries occur.
Most break-ins happen during the summer. The majority of break-ins occur during July and August, and the least amount of home invasions happen during February.
Interestingly enough, according to the data provided by a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, the magnitude of the seasonal difference has been going down over the years.
In the period between 1993 to 2010, the average seasonal difference between the highest and lowest seasonal burglary rates was about 10.5%. In comparison, between 1973 to 1977, it was approximately 26%.
How Burglaries Happen
Are Burglaries Planned in Advance?
Interestingly enough, according to a study on the behavior and decision-making of burglars by Joseph Kuhns that looked at more than 420 convicted offenders, the vast majority of burglars (59.1%) did not spend too much time planning the crime.
According to the study, burglars usually act in less than 24 hours. However, some burglaries (19.4%) were planned in the span of 1 to 3 days, and a much smaller amount of burglaries were planned for more than 3 days.
On the other hand, an NBC’s I-Team survey sent out to burglars found that about 30% of burglars would scope out their target, and about 35% said they do it but not all the time. The goal is to determine the victim’s or the neighbors’ schedule, check for dogs, and other security measures that may be in place.
About 10% of burglars shared that they will use social media to choose victims or find more information about their victims.
By Means of Entry
Studies reveal that most burglars get in through an open door or window. One study found that about 12.5% of burglars would pick locks or use a previously acquired key to get in.
Some sources shed even more detailed information:
- Most burglars enter through the front door. About 35% of the burglars gain entry by simply walking through an unlocked front door.
- About 23% of the burglars gained entry through a window on the first floor, and about 2% of the thieves gained entry by going through a window on the second floor.
- About 22% of the burglars gained entry by going through the back door.
This data is very similar to the numbers provided by the FBI.
For example, according to the FBI’s report, in 2019, 37.8% of all burglaries were categorized as unlawful entries, meaning no force was used. On the other hand, 55.7% of burglaries involved forcible entry, and in 6.5% of the cases, forcible entry was attempted.
Following up on the NBC I-Team’s survey results, we can see very similar numbers. According to it, 42% of burglars gained entry by going through an unlocked window, 39% through an unlocked door, and another 39% kicked in a door.
Some offenders shared that they will almost always knock on the front door before breaking in in order to find out if anybody is home. In addition, one survey found that about 29% of burglars will knock on the front door.
Burglaries last approximately between 8 to 10 minutes, according to some sources. This is very similar to the numbers suggested by the FBI, which state that most burglaries take between 90 seconds to 12 minutes.
This is also confirmed by one experiment where the behavioral patterns of burglars were observed and compared to other offenders and non-offenders. In this experiment, the researchers found that burglars took, on average, about 9 minutes to search a house.
According to some polls, burglars find several factors a good deterrent and are thus more likely to seek an easier property. These are:
- Indications of alarm systems.
- The presence of outdoor cameras.
- Car in the driveway.
- Steel bars.
- Lack of good escape routes.
- Large dogs.
- Police or people walking nearby.
- People or noise inside the property.
- Proximity to neighbors.
Single-family detached houses are more attractive to burglars compared to apartments. They have more access points and better escape routes. Corner houses are less likely to be burglarized, mostly because there is more visibility and traffic around them.
There is also some data on what burglars will consider less effective deterrents. In other words, burglars put little weight on these factors when casing properties and picking a victim.
Some of these are:
- Neighborhood watch and dogs signs
- Outside lighting and lights inside.
- The type of doors and windows and the presence of steel bars on them.
- The distance from the road and neighbors.
- Potential hiding places.
A home security system is a great deterrent.
Homes that do not have a home security system are three times more likely to be targeted by burglars. In one survey, approximately 60% of burglars said that the presence of an alarm system does make a big difference when selecting targets.
That said, 37% of the burglars said a front door security camera would deter them, and 44% reported that they would carry on with the breaking-in.
Furthermore, 50% of burglars also said that they would not continue with the burglary if they found there was an alarm system present, and 37% said they might continue with the burglary. Only 13% said that they would always continue with the breaking-in.
Another interesting piece of information is that approximately 80% of burglars will never attempt to disarm the alarm system, and only 8% will always try to disarm it.
However, the survey by NBC’s I-team found some interesting information when they asked burglars about alarm systems. About 35% said they are too fast for the police and will not be phased out by an alarm system. Another 18% said they would not set the alarm off, and 21% said they would simply disarm the alarm system.
About 75% of burglars share they go for the master bedroom first. Other areas and rooms are also targeted, such as entryways, kitchens, offices, living rooms, pantries, bathrooms, and more.
One of the studies that looked into the behavioral patterns of burglars found that burglars will spend approximately the same time on each floor, except the attic, which is usually a fairly smaller space. That means storing your belongings on the second floor is not significantly better.
Some burglars have reported that they also look in some of the more uncommon places where people may hide their valuables, such as refrigerators, freezers, cookie jars, and more.
Commonly Stolen Items
According to the study carried out by Joseph Kuhns, we can see some interesting trends.
The top reasons for break-ins were money (37.9%) and drugs (31.5%) or both drugs and money (18.8%).
The most commonly stolen items are cash, jewelry, illegal or prescription drugs, and electronics.
Average Dollar Loss
According to the data from the FBI, the average dollar loss per burglary is often between $2,300 to $2,800.
|Year||Average dollar loss per burglary||Total estimated property loss each year|
The survey by Joseph Kuhns showed that 65.2% of burglars were male and 34.8% female. About 63% were single or never married.
About 54% of the burglars stated that burglaries and breaking and entering were the most serious crimes they had been charged with at the time of the survey.
Some sources suggest that most burglars are likely to be 25-year-old males. The data from the FBI also shows that the biggest number of offenders are in the 20-29-year-old bracket.
According to the data from the FBI, about half of the burglaries were carried out by somebody close to the victim.
The majority of burglaries are not violent and do not involve physical violence.
This is to be expected as burglars are not looking for a confrontation, and if spotted, they are more likely to run away instead of engaging.
A report by the U.S. Department of Justice analyzed the data provided by the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) in the period between 1998-2007 and discovered that the cases of physical violence or threats of physical violence during a burglary ranged between 0.9% in rural areas to 7.6% in urban areas.
When it comes down to actual acts of physical violence, it was found that the percentage is even lower as, in most cases, the criminals would prefer to resort to threats of physical violence.
Burglaries that occurred in occupied dwellings were more likely to result in violence or threats of violence.
The data also shows that completed burglaries are more likely to result in the use of physical violence than attempted burglaries.
The survey by the NBC’s I-Team also touched upon this topic and asked thieves what they would do if they found someone was inside when they broke in, and 77% said they would immediately leave.
Burglars often carry tools such as pliers, pry bars, screwdrivers, and more to get in.
However, generally, burglars do not always carry weapons. Many offenders understand the risks, as carrying a weapon can quickly escalate things and make matters worse if they get caught.
That said, this does not mean that all burglars do not carry some kind of weapon. In many of the surveys done, convicted burglars advised victims to avoid any confrontation.
A review of the home invasion reports in Atlanta, GA, in 1994 looked at nearly 200 cases of occupied home break-ins. In 17% of the cases, a firearm was involved, and in 3.5% of the cases, offenders carried a knife.
In 42% of the cases, the criminals left without attacking the victim.
In the earlier-mentioned report by the U.S. Department of Justice, it was found that in 9% of the burglaries, the offender had a weapon, which accounted for 2.4% of all burglaries in that period.
Where Burglaries Happen
Residential vs. Nonresidential Properties
The vast majority of burglaries happen in residential properties.
The data provided by the FBI shows that in 2019 about 62.8% of burglaries occurred at residential properties and 37.2% in non-residential properties (such as offices, stores, industrial buildings, etc.)—a trend that has remained almost unchanged for years.
|Year||% of residential property burglaries|
Taking a high-level look, we can distinguish some regional trends.
The south stands out as one of the areas where a good chunk of the burglaries happen. Almost half of all burglaries happen in the southern parts of the USA.
|Region||% of total burglaries in 2017||% of total burglaries in 2018||% of total burglaries in 2019||% of total burglaries in 2020||% of total burglaries in 2021|
Those trends can be made a little clearer when we take a little more in-depth look at a state level.
According to the data shared by the FBI in the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), we can see that burglary rates have been steadily going down over the years.
But what is more, we can see that California is the state with the highest burglary rates. It is interesting to note that burglaries accounted for only 16% of all reported crimes in California.
Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and Washington are among the states with the highest number of burglaries.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are several states that stand out. The states with the least amount of burglaries are Vermont, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, Alaska, Delaware, and Montana.
|State Name||Burglary cases for 2020||Burglary cases for 2019||Burglary cases for 2018|
The state with the highest number of burglaries per 100,000 people is New Mexico, followed by other states such as Oklahoma, Arkansas, and North Carolina.
Over the years, we can see that there have been some slight shifts, but the states with the highest number of burglaries per capita have not changed too much.
|State||Number of burglaries per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016||Number of burglaries per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020|
Burglaries Reported to the Police
Unfortunately, a huge number of burglaries remain unreported to the police.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, on average, about half of all burglaries are not reported to the police.
|Year||% of burglaries reported to the police|
According to the crime data by the FBI, on average, about 13% of all burglaries are solved.
|Year||% of burglaries cleared|
Overall the chances of recovering your valuables are low.
The number of burglaries solved is very low due to many different factors. Burglars pick targets where they are less likely to be seen, choose a time of day when the victim is not home, and often get in and leave before the police have a chance to respond.