Trends in Burglary Rates
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2020 Burglary & Theft Statistics Explained & What This Means for 2021 (Especially Post-COVID)

Burglary and theft continue to be significant problems for Americans. According to the FBI, there were approximately 1,120,000 burglaries in 2019, causing an estimated $3 billion in property losses.

However, during 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic, there was a general decline in property and violent crimes across the U.S. Lockdowns and fear of the coronavirus caused millions of people to stay at home, reducing the mobility of criminals and potential victims.

It’s essential to be careful in 2021 as the end of the pandemic approaches. People might become more relaxed than usual and leave on vacation without the appropriate safety precautions against burglars. Installing an alarm system or nanny cam can help you improve the security of your home.

What Data and Statistics Are Available for 2020?

Every year, the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics put out an official report on the previous year’s crime statistics. Unfortunately, the information for 2020 won’t come out until the fall of 2021. Therefore, there isn’t much official data yet on burglary and theft during 2020.

The Preliminary Uniform Crime Report by the FBI has data on the first six months of 2020. According to this report, there was an overall decline in property crime rates across the U.S. during the first half of 2020.

Main Burglary and Theft Statistics for 2020

According to the report, these are the burglary and theft statistics for the first half of 2020.

  • Larceny thefts decreased by 9.9 percent.
  • Burglaries decreased by 7.8 percent.
  • Motor vehicle thefts increased by 6.2 percent.
  • Overall property crimes decreased by 7.8 percent.

The report also offers data in terms of different population groups. In general, the overall number of property crimes decreased in all city population groups.

  • In cities under 10,000 inhabitants, law enforcement agencies reported the largest decrease at approximately 14 percent.
  • Cities with populations of 250,000 to 499,000 saw the smallest decrease — just 3.7 percent.
  • Property crime decreased 9.3 percent in nonmetropolitan counties.
  • Property crime decreased 7.3 percent in metropolitan counties.

Finally, property crime also decreased in all four regions in the country. Reports of property crimes showed a decline of 10.3 percent in the midwest, 9.35 percent in the south, 5.7 percent in the northeast, 5.3 percent in the west.

Main Burglary and Theft Statistics for 2020

Source: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock.com

Why Did Burglary Rates Decrease During 2020?

The coronavirus pandemic caused a new situation for all people in the U.S. and worldwide. It’s reasonable to think lockdowns in all states during 2020 prevented people from moving around, including burglars and thieves. 

In addition, lockdowns, social distancing measures, and fear of the coronavirus caused many people to stay at home for longer periods. What’s more, millions of people started working remotely from their homes, and many still are in 2021.

One of the main things burglars on the prowl look for is empty homes. The coronavirus pandemic caused so many people to stay at home that it positively impacted burglary statistics.

Trends in Burglary Rates

It’s essential to keep in mind, burglary rates have been decreasing continuously in the past decades. The constant decrease in burglary since the 1980s is mainly due to the improvement in home security systems. The Pew Research Center reviewed FBI data, and they found from 1993 to 2019, the burglary rates had dropped 69 percent.

For example, in 2017, there were 1,117,696 burglaries in the U.S. This number represented a 29.6 percent decrease compared with data from 2015 and a 48.5 percent decrease compared with 2010 data. Therefore, it’s likely, even without the pandemic, there would also have been a decline in burglary rates across the country in 2020.

Trends in Burglary Rates

Source: fizkes/Shutterstock.com

Why Did Larceny Decrease?

Larceny is the unlawful taking of another person’s personal property or business. It’s different from robbery because it doesn’t involve the use of violence. Examples of larceny theft include stealing bicycles or vehicle parts, shoplifting, and pickpocketing.

According to the Preliminary Uniform Crime Report, there was a 9.9 percent drop in larceny during the first six months of 2020. With lockdown measures, businesses closed, and people staying at home, thieves had less mobility and fewer potential victims.

According to the Pew Research Center, from 1993 to 2019 there was a 49 percent drop in larceny. However, there are still over five million larceny thefts reported every year in the U.S.

Trends in Burglary Rates

Source: Daniel Jedzura/Shutterstock.com

Why Did Motor Vehicle Thefts Increase?

According to the FBI, January to June of 2020 saw a 6 percent increase in vehicle theft over the same time in 2019. Some cities, including Denver, Los Angeles, and New York, have been more affected than others.

Experts speculate this is likely due to the vast number of people staying at home, leaving streets across the country empty. This provided a perfect opportunity for thieves to steal cars without any witnesses.

Preventing automotive theft often poses a greater challenge than protecting your home; cars are easier to break into, and they provide the criminal with a fast get-away method. Securing doors and windows, hiding valuables, installing a GPS tracking device and car alarm, and parking in areas with plenty of foot traffic can help minimize the risk of becoming a victim of automotive theft.

What This Means for 2021 Post-Covid

Despite the trend toward lower rates of burglary and theft during 2020, we may see a sharp increase in criminal activity throughout 2021, as cases of COVID decline. The COVID-related economic downturn caused severe financial strain for many people, especially groups already below the poverty line. Impoverished socioeconomic groups tend to have higher crime rates with economic incentives, such as burglary, theft, and larceny. Continuing financial stress moving into the second half of 2021 could lead to a corresponding increase in crime in areas populated by these groups.

President Biden set a goal on May 4th of getting 70 percent of adults vaccinated. At the current pace, all those who want to get vaccinated should be able to do it by the end of the year. As the U.S. eases movement restrictions and moves out of the pandemic, more people return to workplaces and will likely start traveling toward the end of the summer and the fall.

After the long pandemic, people mustn’t forget the usual safety measures against burglary. Don’t post pictures from your trip until you come back, and ask a neighbor to pick up your mail so it doesn’t pile up in the mailbox and draw the attention of burglars.

Especially toward the end of 2021, people must remember to take the necessary safety precautions when leaving on vacation. Many people will want to travel during the 2021 Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and, after the long pandemic, burglars and thieves may take advantage of empty homes.

Protect your home with a state-of-the-art security system and monitoring subscription to ensure your property and loved ones are safe. Investing in a baton is an excellent tool to protect yourself from thieves and criminals. Simple but effective tools, such as batons, mace sprays, or stun guns, have become some of today’s most popular self-defense tools.