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Profile of Household Burglary in America

NCJ Number
Police Journal Volume: 46 Issue: 2 Dated: (April-June 1986) Pages: 168-173
W J Bopp
Date Published
7 pages
Using data from the National Crime Survey and existing research findings, this article profiles the typical household burglary and the typical offender.
A 10-year study shows that 73 of 85 million households had been burglarized. Of burglaries, two of three involved residential, rather than commercial, structures. About 45 percent involved unlawful entry without force, about a third were forcible entries, and less than 25 percent were unsuccessful attempts. Burglary rates were highest in the daytime, during the summer months, in urban areas, and among rental households. The typical burglar was a poor, young male from an unstable single-parent home who, together with an associate of similar background, broke into a residence close to his own home and took a modest amount of property. The majority of burglars were opportunists rather than professionals, and as many as 50 percent were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crime. Burglars were usually not well-equipped, preferring to enter through unsecured doors or windows. The most common items taken included cash, televisions and stereo equipment, bicycles and parts, and jewelry and furs. Violence in the commission of a residential burglary is becoming increasingly common and was most likely to occur when the occupant was home or returned while the crime was in progress. 12 references.


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