US Household Burglaries Decline from 2000 to 2007

An estimated 3.7 million household burglaries occurred each year from 2003 through 2007, and about 7 percent (266,560) involved some form of violent victimization, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice, announced.

Victims said they knew the offender in 65 percent of violent household burglaries, and in 28 percent of such burglaries victims said the offender was a stranger. Residents in all of these households were equally likely to be victimized by a current or former intimate partner as they were by a stranger.

Offenders were unarmed in 61 percent of the violent household burglaries that occurred between 2003 and 2007. In 12 percent of violent household burglaries the offender possessed a firearm. About 23 percent of these firearm-related burglaries were committed by a stranger.

Between 2000 and 2007, the rate of burglary of unoccupied households declined from 26 to 21 victimizations per 1,000 households. The rate of household burglary when someone was home remained stable between 2000 (9 per 1,000 households) and 2007 (8 per 1,000 households).

Households composed of married couples without children experienced the lowest rate of burglary both when no one was home (14 per 1,000 households) and while a household member was present (four per 1,000 households). Single females with children experienced the highest rate of burglary while someone was present in the household (22 victimizations per 1,000 households).

Higher income households experienced lower rates of burglary regardless of whether the residence was occupied or not. Single family units (eight per 1,000 households) and higher density structures of 10 or more units (eight per 1,000 households) generally experienced lower rates of burglary while someone was home.

Damaging or removing a door was the most common type of entry in forcible and attempted forcible entry burglaries. Residents who were present in 18 percent of unlawful entry burglaries stated that someone inside the home let the offender in. Twelve percent stated that someone inside opened the door and the offender pushed their way in. Nearly 4 percent stated that the offender had a key to the residence and used the key to gain access.

Police were more likely to be contacted when an unoccupied household experienced a forcible entry burglary (73 percent) than an unlawful (41 percent) or attempted forcible (41 percent) entry burglary. In contrast, when household members were present during a household burglary, police were equally likely to be contacted regardless of the type of burglary.

These findings are drawn from BJS's National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the nation's primary source for information on the frequency, characteristics and consequences of criminal victimization. Conducted since 1973, the NCVS is one of the largest continuous surveys conducted by the federal government. On average between 2003 and 2007, 40,320 households and 71,460 individuals age 12 or older were interviewed twice during the year for the NCVS. The average annual response rate during this period was 91 percent for households and 86 percent for individuals.

Estimates from the NCVS, which includes offenses both reported and unreported to police, complement those from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR), which measures crimes reported to law enforcement agencies across the nation. Unlike the NCVS, the UCR includes crimes against persons of all ages and businesses, as well as fatal crimes.
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