When it comes to crime, property crimes are some of the most harrowing to go through. The notion that we can be a victim, even in our own home, where we feel most safe, is not a thought that many take well.
But how likely is it to happen to us, and what types of crime tend to happen on our properties?
To answer that question, we’re going to take a closer look at the property crime rates to find out how much burglary, vandalism, and larceny is really happening. With the help of the latest property crime statistics, we’ll get clear answers as to just how safe, or how at risk, our possessions really are.
Keep reading to learn more about property crime statistics by city, by type of crime, by year, and more.
In 2018, there were 7,196,045 property crimes reported in the United States.
Now, many will immediately agree that this is a startlingly high number. But when compared to the overall incident of property crime cases, the trends are actually quite promising.
7 million property crimes is by no means a small number, but the trend shows that this figure is decreasing every year. In 2015, there were over 8 million property crimes. In 2012, there were over 9 million property crimes.
Three decades ago, there were 12,655,486 property crimes. This indicates a clear decrease over time. While that may not be of much comfort to those who have become part of the victims of property crime statistics it does offer some hope for the trend to continue into the future.
According to the FBI, property crime is far and away the most common type of crime committed and reported in the US. This includes burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The second and third most common types of crimes committed in the country are drug-related offenses and alcohol-related crimes, respectively.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, violent crimes are less likely than many people think, as they are fourth on the list. When we look at the overall stats, it becomes clear how rare violent crime is by comparison. In fact, property crime was reported an average of every 3 seconds, while violent crime was reported once every 22 seconds.
But what is the most common property crime?
Let’s find out.
According to the same FBI property crime statistics mentioned above, larceny-theft was the most common crime committed. The study was completed in 2012, at which point larceny accounted for 7 million reported property crimes, out of 9 million total property crimes. So, it made up for almost 60% of all reported crimes.
Burglary was the next most common property crime, accounting for 18% of all crimes committed in 2012, while motor vehicle theft accounted for 10%. However, we do have more up-to-date larceny theft statistics so that allows us to observe the general trend.
While there’s been a significant decrease from the FBI’s 2012 numbers, larceny-theft is still the most commonly committed crime, with 5,217,055 cases reported in 2018.
According to the legal definition, larceny-theft is the unlawful taking or property belonging to another, including shoplifting, pickpocket, bicycle theft, and the like.
Burglary remains the second most common crime in the US. The latest burglary statistics show it made up for 1,240,149 of all crimes in 2018.
Burglary, also known as breaking and entering, typically involves a person or persons unlawfully entering a property, be it a home, commercial property, or otherwise, to commit a theft or property damage.
Statistics show that motor vehicle theft is a significantly less common crime. It is defined as the unlawful acquisition (or the attempted unlawful acquisition) of a motor vehicle from its owner, including cars, SUVs, motorcycles, trucks, and buses. Bicycles do not count in motor vehicle theft cases; instead, they’re included in the larceny statistics.
Unlike with other types of property crime, motor vehicle theft statistics show that the trend is not a steady decrease. In 2018, there were 748,841 cases, and in 2017, there were 772,943 cases. However, the lowest record was for 2014, when there were 686,803 cases.
Motor vehicle theft is the only property crime that has become more common over the past five years.
The least common of the property damage crimes on record, arson is defined as intentionally burning property, such as buildings, with the malicious intention of vandalism or destruction. In 2018, the arson statistics show 35,128 cases for the year. Over 7000 were cases of burning a single-occupancy residential, while nearly 8000 involved the burning motor vehicles.
(Source: PEW Research)
According to the latest available larceny and home burglary stats, only 35% of all property crimes tracked by the Bureau of Justice Statistics were reported to the police in the first place.
However, the stats also suggest that property crimes are notoriously difficult to solve. Only 19% of all the property crimes reported to the police is the US were cleared.
More stealing statistics highlight the difficulty with which police handle property crimes in the US. While there were over 7 million property crimes in 2018, only 1,167,296 people were actually arrested on property offenses.
It is worth bearing in mind that those arrested for property offenses may be charged with more than one crime. So, it’s not as straightforward as claiming that 1-in-7 property crimes lead to an arrest.
Perhaps you’re wondering:
What are the costs of property crimes?
Unfortunately, the overall costs of property crime are difficult to ascertain with the stats available. Vandalism statistics, for instance, may indicate an even larger figure, but the currently available theft statistics show that over $12 billion worth of property was stolen in 2018. Furthermore, only around $4 billion of that property was returned.
Of all the property stolen, locally stolen motor vehicles were the most valuable – worth over $5 billion.
Looking at the property crime rates by state, the District of Columbia sees the highest rates of incidents, with 4373 property crimes per every 100,000 inhabitants.
New Mexico, Alaska, Louisiana, and South Carolina make up the rest of the top five, with 3419, 3300, 3276 and 3017 respectively. Meanwhile, New Hampshire has the lowest rate of property crime per 100,000 people, with 1248. Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine are just above it at 1263, 1283, and 1357 respectively.
While crime rates are on the decrease across the board, property crimes still remain the most common type of crime. Indeed, property crime is diminishing at a rate that is roughly equivalent to the overall decrease in crime throughout the country. Yet, a closer look at the statistics shows a different story for those affected.
The stats show that property crime is one of the most difficult kinds of crime to police. Only a small portion of property crimes are reported in the first place, and fewer still are solved by the police. This is represented not only by the number of cases closed, but also the property crime statistics on arrests throughout the period for 2018.
While crime rates continue to decrease, it’s clear that measures may need to be taken to make property crime less of a threat across the US.