Safeguarding your home against property crimes can protect your loved ones and possessions. It might also prevent a substantial financial loss.

You can boost your home's protection by adopting preventive measures, such as fortifying exterior and interior security, leveraging smart technologies, finding the right insurance policy and practicing secure habits. Learn how to protect your home from break-ins, identify signs that you're at risk and what to do in the aftermath of a burglary or home invasion.

Home Burglaries vs. Home Invasions: Understanding the Differences

Although often used interchangeably, home burglaries and invasions differ. Home burglary refers to unauthorized entry into a dwelling area with the primary intention of stealing and is thus considered a crime against property. On the other hand, home invasion is an unauthorized entry into a residential structure to confront, intimidate, harm or terrorize the occupants. An invasion may also involve theft, but it's considered a crime against people, as violence or coercion often occur.

Most burglaries are crimes of opportunity — perpetrators choose easy targets to break into and rob — whereas invasions are typically targeted and involve a specific person or motive. Burglaries are more common than invasions. Understanding these distinctions can help you make an effective security plan and system for your home and family.

Home Burglary in the US: Key Statistics and Insights

Home Burglary in the US: Key Statistics and Insights

Although the actions of others are beyond our control, raising awareness about the prevalence and impact of home burglaries may encourage more people to take crucial measures that can deter break-ins and theft. Below are some key statistics and insights on burglaries in the U.S.

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    One incident per 28.3 seconds

    On average in 2019, a burglary occurred every 28.3 seconds.

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    616,307 counts in 2021

    Burglary counts — including those reported through the NIBRS and Summary Reporting System (SRS) — fell to 616,307 in 2021. This was down 287,320 incidents reported from 2020. The number of burglaries in the country has shown a downward trend for the last five years.

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    Billions in property losses

    According to the FBI's Expanded Property Crime Data, the estimated total value of property stolen in burglaries in 2021 was $733,065,463,849.

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    Burglary involves theft of precious goods

    The most common items burglars target are cash, jewelry and precious metals, TV and other electronics, firearms, clothing and furs, motor vehicles and consumable goods.

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    More incidents during p.m. hours

    Approximately 305,063 incidents of burglary occur from noon to 11:59 p.m., whereas 269,839 incidents occur between midnight and 11:59 a.m. The highest number of incidents (46,816) usually occurs between midnight and 12:59 a.m.

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    Houston reported the highest number of burglary offenses

    According to FBI reports, Houston had the highest number of burglaries in 2021 at 13,987. Other cities with the highest number of burglaries: Seattle, Washington (9,776); Las Vegas, Nevada (8,146); San Antonio, Texas (7,386); Dallas, Texas (6,972); Denver, Colorado (5,708); Memphis, Tennessee (5,084); Columbus, Ohio (4,818); Mobile, Alabama (4,683); Austin, Texas (4,648).

Preventive Measures to Reduce Home Burglary Risks

Preventive Measures to Reduce Home Burglary

According to the FBI, one burglary occurs every 28.3 seconds, impacting more than a million victims every year. In 2021 alone, the total value of property loss due to home burglaries exceeded $733 billion. Reducing the likelihood of becoming a target is possible by taking proactive steps and changing your attitude toward home security.

Enhancing Exterior Security

Burglars choose easy targets, so making your home unappealing to thieves may help prevent it from being singled out. Since the exterior of your home is the first thing that others see, enhancing exterior security can significantly reduce potential vulnerabilities thieves may exploit.

The best home security system depends on specific circumstances. Make sure you assess your security needs first. Consult professionals to determine the most effective solution based on your home's layout and location. Then you can start implementing specific changes.

  • Choose a reliable security alarm system

    A reliable alarm system can prevent home burglaries. Find a system that includes sensors on windows and doors. Motion detectors are also a good addition.

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    Consider putting up a sturdy fence

    Consider installing a fence, gate or other perimeter marker. It can keep strangers from wandering around your property. Ensuring it won't be a good hiding place or easy to climb is essential.

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    Install visible security cameras at strategic locations

    Burglars don't want to be identified. Installing security cameras in visible areas and entry points may prevent them from choosing your home. Putting up signs or stickers to indicate a security system is in place may also discourage them from breaking in.

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    Light up your property

    One of the easiest ways to deter intruders is to have bright lighting. Criminals often target homes with dark exteriors and interiors as they seem vacant and easier to hide from neighbors and passersby.

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    Secure entry points

    Check exterior doors, windows and access points. Consider installing deadbolts, reinforced frames and shatter-resistant glass. Keep your doors locked at all times and check your windows before leaving your home. You can even install sensors that monitor your entryways to let you know when a door or window is left open.


Exterior security is your first line of defense to protect your home from burglary. In addition to enhancing the features above, avoid these mistakes for optimal results:

  • Keeping keys outside: Refrain from leaving spare keys in predictable spots, like under the welcome mat. Consider using disguised items as hiding spots, such as a fake rock among natural rocks.
  • Too much privacy: Burglars love privacy as much as you do. Check your home's surroundings to limit the number of spots where intruders can easily hide. Keep the main entryway visible. Trim bushes, shrubs and unruly trees.
  • Visible valuables: Try not to display valuable items in apparent areas. Ask package deliveries to drop items behind a gate or fence.

Fortifying Interior Security

Your home's internal security is just as important as the exterior. When planning your home security system, implement these effective interior security strategies and steps:

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    Add window treatments

    Keeping your blinds and curtains closed when leaving can prevent potential intruders from having a clear view into your home. Consider lining your windows with privacy film, which can distort the view from the outside and prevent thieves from checking your home's layout and taking inventory of your belongings.

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    Use a safe

    If an intruder makes it into your home, a safe or lockbox for your valuables — including cash, jewelry and important documents — can help reduce their chances of stealing precious items. Burglars often want to rob a house quickly, so any deterrents can significantly help you.

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    Install a home security system

    Extend your security system into your home. Add smart locks, motion sensors and security cameras throughout your space.


A common mistake that many homeowners make is only installing a security system on the exterior of their home. Investing in your home’s internal security can further reduce the risks of being a burglary victim. Here are other common mistakes to avoid:

  • Obvious signs of an empty home: Burglars typically act when no one's home. To make your home look occupied even when you're away, you can install lights that automatically turn on and off at scheduled intervals throughout the day.
  • Sharing too much information: Avoid broadcasting your vacation plans on social media. You don't want others knowing when your house will be empty.
  • Visible alarm system panel: Don't give burglars a chance to check whether your alarm system is or isn't activated or easily deactivate it. Keep your alarm system panel or control pad in a less visible spot.

Leveraging Technology as a Deterrent

Integrating technological solutions can help create a more comprehensive security strategy. In the U.S., 72% of home decision-makers have a home security device. The most popular options are video-enabled systems, such as video surveillance and video doorbells. Technology-based solutions, from smart security systems to remote monitoring and control, can help you feel safer in your home even while you're away.

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    Remote monitoring and control

    Depending on your smart security system, you may also be able to remotely control your alarm system, locks, lights and thermostats. Some homeowners opt to monitor their homes on their own. Others pay a subscription fee to hire professionals to monitor their home surveillance 24/7.

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    Smart home security systems

    Many home security systems now have smart technology features. With these, you can easily automate your alarm system, locks, lights and even thermostats through a mobile app.

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    Video doorbells

    Another layer of protection is a video doorbell camera. This lets you see who's at the door and communicate with them. You can also detect intruders and porch pirates.

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    Video surveillance

    Video surveillance equipment, such as security cameras, are among the easiest ways to protect your home. The sight of cameras may deter intruders. At the same time, they allow you to keep an eye on your home and provide evidence in the event of a burglary.


Technology-based solutions provide convenience and security. However, there are certain things you need to avoid. These common errors may prevent you from maximizing the benefits of implementing technologies in your home security system.

  • Ignoring updates: Some technology-based security solutions use certain software. Make sure they're continuously updated to ensure protection. Updates are there to improve the device's features and security.
  • Using fake equipment: Installing fake security cameras and alarm signs is ineffective against experienced intruders. Burglars tend to know how to spot fake security equipment.
  • Using it as-is: Don't forget to change the default passwords. Avoid using weak or predictable passwords.

Boosting Home Security With Home Insurance

Having home security systems may seem adequate for preventing burglaries, but it's also vital to ensure a financial safety net to help you recover from potential losses. Homeowners insurance can cover costs related to break-ins, including property damage and theft. In some cases, insurance providers also offer incentives and discounts to homeowners with security devices like alarms, surveillance cameras or smart home security systems.


The best homeowners insurance policy is the one that caters to your specific needs and circumstances. Before purchasing insurance, make sure you compare your options. Get personalized quotes from different insurers. Make sure the policy provides the right amount of coverage.

It would also help to check different policy offers and saving opportunities. For instance, many carriers offer discounts for bundling policies and maintaining a good credit score. Some may also provide a home security system discount.

Security Habits to Prevent Home Burglaries

An effective home security system can safeguard your home against burglaries. However, developing strong security habits is also essential. These don't have to cost you. Simple precautions like locking your doors and windows or knowing your neighbors can go a long way in keeping your loved ones safe.

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    Always lock your doors and windows

    The easiest defense against intruders is ensuring that all your doors and windows are locked. Many burglars use the front door or a first-floor window to break into a home. By locking your doors and windows consistently, you're reducing the risks of burglary.

  • Be cautious with social media

    Be smart about what you share on your social media accounts. While vacation photos and videos may garner likes, posting in real-time is not wise. Consider sharing them once your trip ends to avoid alerting anyone that your house is empty.

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    Be mindful of your things

    Burglars often scope out potential targets before hitting houses. Avoid leaving clues that you have expensive items. Don't leave bikes, motorcycles and expensive tools out in the open. Always keep your garage door closed. Ensure your electronics, jewelry and other valuables aren't visible from the outside.

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    Know your neighbors

    Establish a good relationship with your neighbors. Knowing them can help you quickly spot potential intruders. If you have a neighborhood watch program, participate in it. Consider setting up one with your neighbors if you don't have one. You may even invite the local police to send a representative to one of your meetings to discuss ways to keep the community safe.

  • Secure your spare keys

    Forget about your doormat, flowerpot or mailbox. These are obvious and common hiding places. Find a safe and secure place to keep your spare keys. You can leave it with a friend, relative or neighbor you trust. You may also opt for a smart door lock that requires a code or biometric instead of keys.

Protecting Your Home While You're Away

Protecting Your Home While You're Away

Unoccupied homes are more vulnerable to break-ins. Implementing security measures during your absence may keep your property safe.


Notify trusted neighbors or friends

Choose a reliable friend, relative or neighbor to inform of your vacation plans. Ask them to keep an eye on your property while you're away.


Review your home insurance policy

Check your homeowners insurance policy and ensure your coverage is current and sufficient. While standard policies typically include losses due to break-ins, it's best to verify with your insurance provider.


Schedule lights and electronics

Use automatic timers to turn your lights on and off in various parts of your property. If you can remotely control your lights, turn them on and off at different times to avoid suspicion and create the illusion that someone's home.


Temporarily suspend mail and package deliveries

Having a bunch of newspapers, mail and packages on your porch is a telltale sign that no one's home. Consider suspending deliveries while you're gone or ask your trusted neighbor to pick them up.

Signs That You're at Risk of Burglary

Signs That You're at Risk of Burglary

Burglars typically select their targets carefully and attack homes with a plan. Recognizing common warning signs that you're at risk of burglaries can help you take appropriate action to deter an incident.

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    Multiple break-in attempts

    If you've noticed signs of break-in attempts, it's time for you to upgrade your home security. Many burglars attack the same houses since they already know the layout. They may have also noticed other valuables they can steal.

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    Strangers posing as service providers

    Some robbers may pretend to be a service provider or salesperson as part of their surveillance. This is to scout target properties and find the best time to act. Watch out for unfamiliar vehicles parked outside your or your neighbors' properties.

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    Unusual surveillance

    Be wary of your surroundings. Look for unexplained activities. There may also be unexplained surveillance equipment. Potential burglars often take a closer look at properties to determine easy targets.

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    Unfamiliar markings

    Many burglars use symbols to know which properties they can break into later. Watch out for weird stickers on your mailbox, fence, gate or doors. Some thieves may leave a streak or glob of paint on fences and walls.

Responding to a Home Break-In: What Homeowners Need to Do

What to Do After a Home Break-In

A break-in might occur despite taking precautions. Here's what to do to financially recover in the aftermath of a break-in and feel safe again at home.


Ensure your personal safety and contact authorities

First, ensure you and your family are safe. Leave the premises and immediately contact your local authorities. Provide your personal information to the dispatcher to help them take action right away.


Avoid touching anything

If you're 100% certain it's safe to enter your property, start looking around. You can check for broken windows and damaged locks, but make sure to preserve any potential evidence by not touching anything.


Document damages and stolen items

Take photos and videos using your phone to serve as evidence of a break-in. After the police check your home, you can begin taking inventory of missing items. Check dangerous items first, such as firearms, weapons and prescriptions. Document these and report them to authorities.


Notify your insurance company

Contact your home insurance provider to start the claims process. Let them know about what happened and provide only the necessary information.


Strengthen your home security measures

Re-evaluate your security systems. Upgrade your locks. Check all possible entry points. These upgrades could prevent a repeat attack.

Expert Insight on Preventing Home Invasion and Burglary

Preventing home invasions and burglaries requires extra precautions. MoneyGeek asked some industry experts to share tips and insights to help you protect your home.

  1. What are the most important factors to consider when preparing my home security plan?
  2. What home insurance offers the best financial protection against home burglaries and invasions? Why?
  3. Are there programs that can help victims of home burglaries and home invasions recover financially? Can you share some of them?
John Espenschied
John Espenschied

Agency Owner of Insurance Brokers Group

Rob Gabriele
Rob Gabriele

Home Security Expert

Additional Resources

Finding the right resources can help you better protect your home against burglaries and break-ins. MoneyGeek compiled some helpful resources and tools you can use.

  • AARP: Learn more about home monitoring systems. See if a Do-It-Yourself package is right for your privacy concerns.
  • AreaVibes: Check your neighborhood safety score based on crime rate, cost of living, employment, education and other relevant factors.
  • Arizona State University Center for Problem-Oriented Policing: Learn more about home invasions and burglaries. Find out how to conduct local analysis to reveal factors contributing to community break-in problems.
  • Crime Data Explorer: Stay updated on crime trends in your state and countrywide.
  • CrimeProtect: Find the nearest police department or check crime incidents using this interactive crime map.
  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency: Aside from physical security, homeowners should also ensure cyber security to avoid breaches. Get tips on cyber safety.
  • Federal Trade Commission: Find the best home security system by learning about different scams and how to report them.
  • Neighbors App: This free mobile app by Ring allows neighbors to interact with each other, share updates, submit anonymous reports and monitor incidents in the community.
  • National Crime Prevention Council: Access crime prevention and personal safety tips. Get various information about home and neighborhood safety.
  • SpotCrime: Check crime reports in your neighborhood or nearby communities. Receive daily and weekly alerts by setting up an email alert subscription for free.

About Nathan Paulus

Nathan Paulus headshot

Nathan Paulus is the director of content marketing at MoneyGeek. Nathan has been creating content for nearly 10 years and is particularly engaged in personal finance, investing, and property management. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of St. Thomas Houston.