Apartment Burglaries vs. Single-Family Home Burglaries

Comparing and contrasting two common burglary scenarios


August 28,2020

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2020 Update: The latest FBI burglary statistics were released for 2017 and there were an estimated 1,401,840 burglaries committed. 

According to the  FBI,  burglary is the most common threat  to our homes. In fact, there were an estimated  1,401,840  burglaries in the United States in 2017 alone, the most recent year for which public data is accessible.  By  definition, the crime of  burglary is a non-confrontational property crime  that occurs when we’re not at home. But are there different types of theft depending on the type of home you live in? Let’s examine apartment burglaries compared to single-family home burglaries. 

The likelihood of burglary for apartments versus single-family homes  varies with different communities, locations.  While there are many similarities between the burglaries of houses and apartments, the crime prevention techniques often differ.  Taking these factors into account can minimize your risk of burglary and consequently keep your home and your community safe. 

Identifying Easy Targets

Single family houses are often attractive targets, as their large size promises would-be thieves greater rewards and their numerous access points make them more difficult to secure. In general,  greater accessibility presents more opportunities to offenders. And in turn,  burglars are less likely  to be seen entering larger houses that offer a higher degree of privacy. When a burglar selects a target home or apartment, the individual usually makes the decision based on a number of key factors, such as occupancy, familiarity, convenience, visibility, accessibility, and vulnerability.  

Most burglars do not target occupied residences.  Apartments are commonly targeted if they are located on the ground-floor because of the easy access. However,  getting to know your neighbors  (in both apartments and homes) can reduce the risk of burglary.  Some  studies  suggest burglars routinely ring the doorbells of houses to confirm residents’ absence.  How long a resident is away from home is a strong predictor of the risk of burglary, which could explain why  single-family homes are often the most vulnerable. 

Method of Entry 

The layout of an apartment community or a street of neighboring homes poses different opportunities and threats for burglars when it comes to the method of entry.  You could kick down the door of a house and it’s entirely possible that  no one will hear you, or they will ignore the noise and attribute it to something else. It is slightly more difficult to do this in an apartment building, where neighbors are closer together. In apartments, there is often only one entry door. Apartment-dwellers generally have to walk past one another’s doors to get to their own. In an apartment complex, it’s also more common to enter using a key. Landlords are  supposed  to change your locks when you move from unit to unit as well as rental homes,  but not all landlords do this. 

Sliding glass patio doors are extremely common in apartment buildings, and people are usually forgetful when it comes to locking them. Depending on the design of the apartment, it may also be possible to gain entry via a window. However, studies show  about 30% of all burglars gain access to the dwelling through an unlocked door or window.  This is why it’s crucial to lock all your doors and windows before leaving! 

Best Defense for Home and Apartment Burglaries 

Apartment owners or renters should keep their spare keys only in the hands of a trusted few, such as roommates or family members. You should also consider smart locks, that help you control who enters and exits with customized entry codes.  

Although apartment dwellers may not consider home security to be essential, it is extremely effective  in both home and apartment settings. Monitored home security systems can sense an intrusion and contact help regardless of if your neighbors hear anything suspicious. Brinks Home Security ™ can provide you with a number of customizable  home security  packages that will cater to your unique needs.  

Beyond being flexible, all of the Brinks Home packages come with  lifetime equipment warranties.  Brinks Home can also offer you the reliability of a smart home security system and the promise of 24/7/365 professional monitoring. 

Lauren Slade is a Dallas-based writer and editor.

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