The FBI recently released its annual crime report for 2017, and property crimes were 3 percent fewer than they were in 2016, marking the 15th consecutive year the collective estimates for these offenses declined. The report, Crime in the United States, is a statistical compilation of offense, arrest and police employee data reported by law enforcement agencies voluntarily participating in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.
Nationwide, there were an estimated 7,694,086 property crimes, according to the report. The estimated numbers for two of the three property crimes showed declines when compared with the previous year’s estimates. Burglaries dropped 7.6 percent and larceny-thefts decreased 2.2 percent. Motor vehicle thefts, however, rose 0.8 percent. The estimated rate of property crime, according to the 2017 statistics, was 2,362.2 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, a decline of 3.6 percent. Victims of property crimes (excluding arson) suffered losses estimated at $15.3 billion in 2017.
The arrest rate for burglary was 61.7 per 100,000 inhabitants; for larceny-theft, 296.0; and for motor vehicle theft, 28.2.
Read on for more key takeaways from the annual crime report, and insights on the statistics from Kirk MacDowell, president of MacGuard Security Advisors, former LAPD officer, former president of the Los Angeles County Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and board member for the Security Industry Association (SIA), the Alarm Industry Research and Education Foundation (AIREF) and the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC).
While the decrease in burglary from 2016 to 2017 is impressive, the numbers become even more staggering when one looks back further. The number of burglaries decreased 27.4 percent when compared with 2013 data, and 37.1 percent when compared with the 2008 estimate. But why is this? Many crime experts attest that age is one of the strongest factors associated with criminal behavior, and thus as the population of crime-prone individuals (typically 15 to 24 years old) swells, so does crime. However, many believe that security systems also play a chief role in the reduction of property crimes, especially burglaries.
“Security systems work, and not only do they work, but dealers and integrators are now adding additional sensors and video,” MacDowell said. “In the AIREF study that was done approximately three years ago, 73 percent of burglars said they preferred to abandon their attempt if they determined there was a security system in the home. If you take a look at the trends of the industry, and you look at the burglary rate coming down, I think it has a lot to do with people not only installing home alarm systems, but adding cameras and other additions to those systems.”
Burglaries accounted for 18.2 percent of the estimated number of property crimes, and burglaries of residential properties accounted for 67.2 percent of all burglary offenses. The percent of burglaries involving forcible entry was 57.5 percent, while 36.2 percent were unlawful entries and 6.3 percent were attempted forcible entry. Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.4 billion in property losses in 2017. The average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,416.
There were an estimated 5,519,107 larceny-thefts nationwide in 2017. This is a 2.2 percent decrease when compared with the 2016 estimate, an 8.3 percent decrease when compared with the 2013 estimate and a 16.2 percent decrease when compared with the 2008 estimate. Larceny-thefts were the greatest property crime by far in 2017, accounting for 71.7 percent of all property crimes committed. The average value of property taken during larceny-thefts was $1,007 per offense. When the average value is applied to the estimated number of larceny-thefts, the loss to victims nationally was an estimated $5.6 billion. Motor vehicle thefts excluding car accessories accounted for 26.8 percent of all larceny-thefts, and shoplifting accounted for 20.8 percent.
Motor Vehicle Theft
The estimated rate of motor vehicle thefts was 237.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, with a total 773,139 thefts of motor vehicles nationwide in 2017. Motor vehicle theft is the only property crime steadily on the rise year after year, with a 10.4 percent increase since 2013. However, the 2017 rate was still 19.4 percent lower than the 2008 estimates.
Nearly $6 billion was lost nationwide to motor vehicle thefts in 2017. The average dollar loss per stolen vehicle was $7,708.
So what do all of these statistics mean for the industry in general?
“I think if I was operating an alarm company today the way I did in 2009, I would probably be concerned,” MacDowell said. “But again, with the advent of additional layers of services — cameras and advanced devices that tell me when my garage door is open — I think these sorts of things keep consumers motivated and excited for systems that at the bottom line are intrusion systems that detect burglary.”
MacDowell went on to say that he believes most security businesses will thrive with the current state of the industry, as long as they aren’t afraid to keep up with the times. Most importantly, he said businesses need to focus on blending different technologies to enhance home security.
“What we’re going to see in the future is a blending of technology which will decrease the false alarm rate, and by decreasing the false alarm rate, law enforcement will respond faster to alarm signals because those signals will be more trusting,” MacDowell said. “I see this as an opportunity for the industry to really shine and use technology.”