The stay-at-home order has brought one interesting perk: the majority of states saw a significant decline in burglaries and in some regions, the rate of burglary, larceny, and auto theft decreased by almost half.
NYPD statistics show that major crime has decreased by 28.5 percent in April and San Francisco reported a 46% decline in burglary and larceny cases. During the outbreak, some US regions even didn't have arrests in some months.
Law enforcement is not that optimistic about crime statistics once the restrictions are eased though. There's already some evidence of crime rates jumping back up to pre-pandemic times or even higher.
According to the Irish Times, crime rates increased immediately after stricter restrictions were eased in Ireland. While property crimes fell from 7000 cases to 3500 cases in April, the crime rate started rapidly increasing a month later, climbing to about 4000 cases.
The same troubling trend might be seen in the US as well. Vermont State Police said that even though at the beginning of the outbreak crime rates dropped, they are now climbing back to pre-pandemic times.
Don't lose your vigilance even during the pandemic
The positive reports about decreased crime rates made many people sigh in relief. Unfortunately, though, numbers haven't been very kind when it comes to domestic violence and homicides. Many US states have seen an increase in some violent crimes but numbers might turn even more to the dark side once restrictions are eased and home burglaries might start jumping back up.
But how common are burglaries, anyway? Smaller crimes can easily go unnoticed in the public eye, while violent crimes are getting the main attention in media. Even though the pandemic brought some relief to homeowners, burglaries are still very common, no matter if dealing with pandemic or not.
According to the FBI's 2017 data, a burglary happens every 22.6 seconds in the US. Some sources even say that there's a burglary every 13 seconds.
What's more astounding though, 88% of all burglary cases take place in residential areas. This data took a dramatic turn during the pandemic as burglars targeted businesses instead, hoping to find their loot from closed establishments. As seen from various recent reports, burglars might now put their focus back on residential properties whose owners are gradually going out more.
Home security systems might help more than you think
Reolink's worrying prediction says that over the next 20 years, 3 out of 4 homes in the US will fall victim to burglary. As only 38% of Americans own a home security system, it's not hard to see how this troublesome prediction could be very real. According to the New York Times, without a home security system, you're 300% more likely to be burgled.
Among the 38% of those who own some sort of a security system, video cameras and video doorbells are the most popular choice that's used by 18.2% of homeowners. Some also opt for a professionally monitored security system, smart lock or simply leave their lights on and have a dog.
Unfortunately, the last two options are not always effective. Bureau of Justice has said that a staggering 85% of burglars actually know their victims, at least to some extent. Considering how public your life can be due to social media, it's not hard to imagine how burglars might use a chance to break into your home when you're away. Lights alone won't do the trick anymore.
You might think that doorbell cameras or front door monitoring systems might be useless against burglars but surprisingly, 34% of burglars enter the home by using the front door. Only 22% of break-ins happen through windows and just 9% use a garage to enter the home.
This means that home security systems' features such as face recognition, motion detection, and sensors are crucial tools in order to prevent burglars or at least, aid in capturing them.
And when it comes to capturing burglars, just 13% of cases end with an arrest in the US. Unfortunately, burglars can be sneaky, and often, they don't have a prior criminal record.
What's even more shocking, 51% of homes fall victim to another burglary within a month. Reports also say that the majority of break-ins happen as a spur of the moment decision, so having a home security system should be the priority for any homeowner. Just having a front door camera alone might be enough to spook away the spur of the moment kind of burglars.
It not only helps to deter possible burglars but even if a burglary happens, you might greatly assist the law enforcement in capturing the culprit.
Cost vs benefit: are home security systems expensive?
Having a home security system clearly has massive perks, but 33.3% people have said they can't afford one.
Luckily, home security devices have become significantly more affordable and more available. An award-winning security monitoring service Frontpoint offers DIY home security packages from $99.
For that price you get these perks:
- 2 door/window sensors
- Motion sensor
- A yard sign, window decals, door sticker
- Free shipping
- Completely wireless
- Pre-programmed, works right out of the box (DIY)
- Works with Alexa and Google Home
- Money-back guarantee
More advanced Frontpoint security systems cost around $300 – $400 but these include more advanced sensors (such as a glass breaking sensor), indoor camera, and many other tools.
HeimVision, who specializes in security cams, monitors, and such, offers weatherproof and in every way tough security systems from around $250-300.
FBI's burglary data says that the average offense amounts to around $2,400, not to even mention that burglars might easily steal items that have great sentimental value. Even if the actual dollar loss remains around $2,000, it's a huge amount in comparison to the price of an average home security system.
Understandably, $100 – $400 might be a hefty price to pay right out of your pocket but in the case of Frontpoint, for example, it's possible to apply for monthly payments via Affirm.
When it comes to the financial aspect, owning a home security system might also save some dollars on your homeowner's insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, your premium comes down up to 10-20 percent if you have a home security system.
DIY home security systems are on the rise and for understandable reasons. Most security systems cost a few hundred bucks which is a small price to pay for your safety. As smart home solutions become more prominent, security systems are not novelty products anymore but instead, something every homeowner should consider.
How to protect your home from burglary
In addition to a home security system, there are a number of ways how you can protect your home from burglars. Experts advise to take these precautions:
- Keep your doors and windows always locked. No matter how safe you consider your neighborhood to be, you never know when a burglar might target your home. 9% of burglars enter the home through an unlocked front door.
- Get a safe for your valuables. Experts recommend using a wall safe that's hidden away from plain sight. The heavier the safe, the less likely it is for burglars to take it with them (and in most cases, burglars are not equipped to handle a big safe).
- Make sure your valuables have an identifiable marking on them. These markings can be engravings, embroidery, etc.
- Have a filing system for your expensive items. Write down serial numbers and any other important information about items such as your TV, computer, or any other expensive things. It's hard to identify your property if you just say a TV was stolen, but it's much easier to find the missing item if you know its serial number.
- Don't expose your life too much on social media. Keep your life as private as possible and don't share delicate information online.
If you don't have a home security system installed already, consider getting one. It's one of the quickest, cheapest, and easiest ways to protect yourself. Be ready for burglars, because you never know when they might be targeting your home next.