What is Burglary? Definition, Statistics & General Information

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Burglary Statistics and General Information

Although the rate of burglary has been declining in America since the 1990s, that statistic may not be comforting if you have good reason to worry about break-ins. One of the first steps to better protect yourself from burglary is to educate yourself about it.

In this article, we’ll answer questions like:

  • What is burglary?
  • What’s the difference between burglary and robbery?
  • What are the chances of my house being robbed?
  • What time do most break-ins occur?
  • How do I protect myself from burglary?

Burglary Definition

Burglary is defined as entering a structure unlawfully to commit a theft. The structure that a burglar enters can be a home or a business, or even another type of personal property like a car or boat. A person is typically not in the structure when a burglary is committed.

Theft is when you take something that doesn’t belong to you, also known as stealing.

Though the legal definition of burglary varies by state, in most cases it does not matter if the burglar used forcible entry. This means that if a person comes into your house through an unlocked window and attempts to steal something, the act still qualifies as burglary.

Burglary is also sometimes called:

  • A break-in
  • Breaking and entering
  • Housebreaking
  • Home invasion

Robbery vs. Burglary

Sometimes people use the terms “robbery” and “burglary” interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.

A burglary is when a person unlawfully enters a structure with the intent of theft, but does not interact with a person. If a burglar interacts with you while taking that property and threatens or intimidates you, that crime is now a robbery.

For example, if someone breaks into your house and steals your TV while you’re away on vacation, this is burglary. However, if someone breaks into your house and steals your TV while you’re home, you catch them in the act and they threaten you with a gun, this is robbery.

Home Invasion Statistics

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and other groups have spent years tracking crime data across the U.S., including burglary statistics. These statistics stood out the most to Frontpoint:

  • In 2017 there were 1,401,840 reported cases of burglary across the U.S., according to FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. That’s a rate of 430.4 occurrences per 100,000 people.
  • According to the FBI, the rate of burglary decreased by 12.7% from 2017 to 2018. This is part of a larger trend that shows the burglary rate decreasing since 1990.
  • Most burglaries—72%, according to the U.S. Office for Victims of Crime occur in residences. The remaining 28% occur in non-residences, such as businesses.  
  • Across all U.S. regions, the burglary rate decreased the most in the Midwest from 2017 to 2018. It went down 15.6% in the Midwest, 14.9% in the Northeast, 13% in the South and 9.7% in the West.
  • The five states with the highest rates of burglary in 2016 were New Mexico, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Louisiana, Forbes reported.
  • Despite a decrease in burglary victimization, U.S. Bureau of Justice data shows robbery victimization rose from 2016 to 2017, from a rate of 1.7 in 1,000 to 2.3 per 1,000.

What time do most break-ins occur?

Most break-ins take place during the day—48% across residential and non-residential burglaries according to the U.S. Office for Victims of Crime.

Of all residential burglaries:

  • 38% occur during the day
  • 21% occur at night
  • 13% occur during an unknown time of day

Of all non-residential burglaries:

  • 10% occur during the day
  • 12% occur at night
  • 7% occur during an unknown time of day

Protecting Yourself From Burglary

Though burglary statistics show the number of home break-ins have been in decline for several decades, home invasion is still a consistent problem across the United States. One of the best ways to protect yourself is by installing a home security system. The Frontpoint home alarm system is wireless and cellular, making it safer, smarter and simpler than other options.

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