There has been an ongoing debate about whether or not the holiday season is unusually active for burglars. A number of studies support this idea; other studies refute it. Common sense would seem to fall on the side of supporting it. This is a time when more people go on vacation and more items come into the house, so it would seem to make sense that burglars would target the holidays as a very profitable time of year.
Home Burglaries by the Numbers
A 2013 report by CNN illustrates thegeneral principle that home burglaries increase across the nation during the holiday season. They utilized FBI data from 2011 to compile their report. That data showed:
- Nationally, burglaries peak during the summer but also trend upwards in December.
- California alone saw an 18% increase in burglaries in December 2011.
- Some cities experienced their greatest number burglaries in the two weeks following Christmas.
Philadelphia is a great example of that last statistic. In 2011, police responded to 194 burglaries reported during the final two weeks of December as opposed to an average of 143 for the last two weeks of the preceding five months. Those who make a living observing criminal trends say it all makes perfect sense. People tend to travel between Christmas and New Year’s, leaving behind many of the expensive gifts they unwrapped on Christmas morning. It is a lucrative combination that burglars cannot resist.
Police say it is difficult to recover all of the stolen items even when burglars are caught. Statistics bears that out. According to the numbers from the FBI, the average loss of a Christmas-related home burglary is more than $1,600. Burglars make off with everything from televisions to smartphones to computers.
As you might guess, police agencies across the country issue annual recommendations in anticipation of the holiday season. Their recommendations include things we have become very familiar with:
- Don’t broadcast your holiday vacation plans on social media.
- Cut up and conceal gift packagingbefore putting it in the trash.
- Have someone look after your home, including getting mail and newspapers.
- Put lights on timers so they can go on and off during the day and evening.
Police officials also say that burglars like to “window shop” this time of year. In other words, they will scope out a neighborhood by posing as a door-to-door salesperson or a utility company representative.They are hoping for a quick look through windows and open doors, mentally noting the contents of each home they see. They then use this quick look to determine which houses to target.
Thwarting a window-shopping burglar is easy: Keep your blinds down and be very careful about opening your door to strangers. If someone does arrive unexpectedly at your door, go outside to meet him or her rather than issuing an invitation for that person to enter.
The statistics are clear in terms of national trends: Home burglaries do tend to go up in December. Even if your local community has been relatively safe over the years, that may change this year.
So be smart. If you don’t yet have a security system with around-the-clock monitoring and home automation features, now would be a great time to get one installed. Click here to learn how Burns & McBride can help.