Burglary Content Updated 02/17/06

Definition

Burglary is defined in the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program as the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. The use of force to gain entry is not required to classify an offense as a burglary. Burglary in the UCR program is categorized into three subclassifications: forcible entry, unlawful entry where no force is used, and attempted forcible entry.

Trend

Year Number of offenses Rate per 100,000 inhabitants
2003 2,154,834 741.0
2004 2,143,456 729.9
Percent change -0.5 -1.5

National Volume, Trends, and Rates

In 2004, an estimated 2.1 million burglary offenses were committed in the United States. This figure (approximately 2,143,456) is a 0.5-percent decline from the 2003 estimate. An examination of 5- and 10-year trends demonstrated a 4.5-percent increase in the number of burglaries when compared with the 2000 estimate, and a 17.4-percent decrease from the 1995 number. Calculated at 729.9 burglaries per 100,000 people, the 2004 rate was a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 2003 rate. Although the 2004 burglary rate was slightly higher (0.2 percent) than the 2000 rate, it was 26.0 percent lower than the 1995 rate. (See Tables 1 and 1A).

Figure 2.10
Burglary
Percent Change from 2000
Figure 2.10: Burglary Percent Change from 2000


Regional Offense Trends and Rates

The UCR Program divides the United States into four regions: the Northeast, the Midwest, the South, and the West. (Details regarding the geographic regions are included in Appendix III.) An analysis of burglary data by region showed the following details.

The Northeast

In 2004, 18.6 percent of the Nation’s population inhabited Northeastern states where 11.0 percent of the estimated number of burglary offenses (236,366) occurred. This figure represents a decrease of 2.9 percent when compared to the 2003 estimate. The region’s burglary rate, estimated at 433.1 offenses per 100,000 persons, marks a decrease of 3.2 percent from the 2003 rate. (See Tables 3 and 4.)

The Midwest

The Midwest accounted for 22.4 percent of the Nation’s population in 2004 and 19.8 percent, or about 424,892, of the country’s burglary offenses. With a rate of 646.4 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, the Midwest had the lowest rate of burglaries among the regions. By volume, the number of burglaries declined 2.1 percent from the 2003 number, and the rate decreased 2.6 percent from that of the prior year. (See Tables 3 and 4.)

The South

The most populous region, the South, had the most burglaries in 2004. With 36.1 percent of the Nation’s population, this region accounted for an estimated 968,932 (45.2 percent) of the Nation’s burglary offenses. The estimated number of burglaries yielded a rate of 914.6 offenses per 100,000 people, a 1.5-percent decrease from the region’s 2003 rate. (See Tables 3 and 4.)

The West

The West accounted for 23.0 percent of the Nation’s total population in 2004 and an estimated 23.9 percent (513,266) of the burglaries that occurred. Overall, the region had a 1.1-percent increase in burglaries from the 2003 total. The estimated rate of 761.4 offenses per 100,000 people was 0.3 percent lower than the 2003 rate. (See Tables 3 and 4.)

Table 2.25

Burglary by Month
Percent Distribution, 2000-2004

Month 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
January 8.1 7.9 8.5 8.1 8.0
February 7.2 6.6 6.9 6.4 6.8
March 8.0 7.6 7.7 7.8 8.0
April 7.8 7.7 7.8 8.1 7.9
May 8.5 8.3 8.5 8.6 8.3
June 8.4 8.2 8.2 8.4 8.5
July 9.2 9.1 9.1 9.2 9.1
August 9.2 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.0
September 8.6 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.6
October 8.7 9.3 8.8 8.9 8.7
November 8.3 8.9 8.2 8.3 8.6
December 8.1 8.8 8.5 8.5 8.5

Community Types

The UCR Program aggregates data by three community types: Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), cities outside MSAs, and nonmetropolitan counties. (See Appendix III for more information regarding community types.) In 2004, residents in MSAs accounted for 82.9 percent of the population and experienced an estimated 84.5 percent of the Nation’s burglaries. The MSAs’ rate of burglaries per 100,000 people was 744.8. Inhabitants of cities outside MSAs accounted for 6.8 percent of the Nation’s population in 2004 and 7.6 percent of the number of burglary offenses. The burglary rate in these areas was 822.8 offenses per 100,000 people, the highest rate by community type. Nonmetropolitan counties accounted for 10.4 percent of the Nation’s inhabitants, and about 7.8 percent of its burglaries. Burglary offenses in nonmetropolitan counties occurred at an estimated rate of 550.0 per 100,000 people. (Based on Table 2.)

Population Groups: Trends and Rates

In addition to analyzing data by region and community type, the UCR Program aggregates crime statistics by population groups; cities are categorized into six groups based on the number of inhabitants, and counties are categorized into two groups, metropolitan and nonmetropolitan. (Appendix III offers further details regarding these population groups.)

An examination of data from law enforcement agencies that provided statistics for at least 6 common months in 2003 and 2004 showed that the Nation’s cities overall experienced a 0.7-percent decrease in burglaries during the 2-year period. Burglaries declined in four of the city groups and increased in two of the city groups. The Nation’s largest cities, those with 250,000 or more inhabitants, showed the largest decline, 2.1 percent. Cities with populations of 50,000 to 99,999 had an increase of 1.9 percent, and cities with populations of 10,000 to 24,999 had an increase of 0.6 percent in the number of burglaries in 2004 compared with 2003.

The volume of burglaries declined in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties in 2004. In metropolitan counties, burglary offenses decreased 2.2 percent from the 2003 level, and in nonmetropolitan counties, these offenses went down 2.6 percent. (See Table 12.)

The UCR Program calculates burglary rates for population groups from information provided by participating agencies that submitted all 12 months of offense data for the year. In 2004, the Nation’s cities overall had 821.6 offenses per 100,000 people. The largest cities (those with 250,000 or more inhabitants) had the highest rate, 972.9 offenses per 100,000 people, and cities with 10,000 to 24,999 residents had the lowest rate among the city groups, 631.8 burglaries per 100,000 people. Metropolitan counties had a rate of 605.5 offenses per 100,000 people, and nonmetropolitan counties had a rate of 574.4. (See Table 16.)

Offense Analysis

The UCR program requests that participating law enforcement agencies provide details regarding the nature of burglaries in their jurisdictions, such as type of entry, type of structure, time of day, and dollar loss associated with each offense.

An examination of data from agencies that provided burglary data for all 12 months of 2004 revealed that 61.4 percent of all burglaries involved forcible entry. Unlawful entry marked 32.4 percent of offenses, and attempted forcible entry accounted for 6.2 percent of burglaries reported to the Program in 2004. (See Table 19.)

As in the past, burglars targeted homes more often than non-residential structures. An analysis of data from agencies that provided supplemental burglary data for at least 6 months of 2004 showed that 65.7 percent of burglaries were of residences, and 34.3 were of nonresidential structures. (See Table 23.) Law enforcement agencies were unable to determine the time burglaries occurred in 25.3 percent of offenses. However, of the burglaries for which the time could be established, most (62.2 percent) residential burglaries occurred during the day, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nonresidential structures were targeted more often at night with 58.0 percent of these offenses occurring from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The average dollar loss per burglary offense was $1,642. Losses from residential burglaries averaged $1,607 per offense and losses from nonresidential burglaries averaged $1,708 per offense. (See Table 23.)

Figure 2.11
Burglary
Percent Change from 2000 Figure 2.11: Burglary Percent Change from 2000

Clearances

The UCR Program considers an offense to be cleared when at least one person is arrested in connection with the offense, or law enforcement officials have identified the offender, but are unable to make an arrest because of circumstances beyond their control (e.g. the suspect is incarcerated or is in custody for another crime). This type of clearance is known as a clearance by exceptional means. (Section III furnishes more information about clearances.) The following paragraphs offer an overview of burglary clearances. The data are based on information from law enforcement agencies that provided at least 6 months of data for 2004.

In 2004, law enforcement agencies cleared 12.9 percent of the Nation’s burglary offenses. By region, agencies in the Northeast cleared the highest percentage (17.1 percent) of burglary offenses occurring within that region. In the South, agencies cleared 13.1 percent of burglary offenses, in the West, 11.8 percent, and in the Midwest, 11.2 percent. (See Table 26.)

By population group, agencies in cities collectively cleared 12.1 percent of burglary offenses. Agencies in the smallest cities, those with less than 10,000 in population, cleared the highest percentage (16.2 percent) of burglary offenses occurring in those jurisdictions. Agencies covering cities with 250,000 and over in population cleared the lowest percentage, 10.3 percent. The Nation’s county law enforcement agencies cleared 14.5 percent of burglary offenses occurring in metropolitan counties, and 15.8 percent of those occurring in nonmetropolitan counties. (See Table 25.)

When grouped by classification and type, data showed that the highest percent (14.2 percent) of burglary clearances in the Nation were of offenses that involved unlawful entry of structures. Of the burglaries where force was used to enter structures, agencies cleared 12.2 percent of offenses, and of attempted burglary offenses, they cleared 10.6 percent. (See Table 27.)

Clearances and Juveniles

The UCR Program has established reporting guidelines that are unique to clearances involving juvenile offenders. First, law enforcement agencies may clear an offense by arrest even though no physical arrest may have occurred, e.g., when a juvenile is turned over to juvenile authorities. Second, when clearing a crime that involves both juvenile and adult offenders, law enforcement reports the clearance as an adult clearance.

Based on data from law enforcement agencies that provided at least 6 months of statistics to the UCR Program in 2004, arrests of juveniles accounted for 16.0 percent of burglary clearances. In the Nation’s cities overall, clearances by juvenile arrests made up a slightly higher percentage, 16.1 percent. Clearances involving only juveniles accounted for 19.6 percent of the total number of burglary clearances in the Nation’s smallest cities (those with fewer than 10,000 residents). The largest cities, those with 250,000 or more inhabitants, had the smallest percentage of clearances involving solely juveniles, 12.5 percent. Of the two county population groups, clearances involving only juveniles made up 15.9 percent of burglary clearances in metropolitan counties, and 15.5 percent in nonmetropolitan counties. (See Table 28.)

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