Study: Alarms, Security Cameras Deter Burglars
There’s no better way to figure out what motivates a burglar than to go directly to the source: Just ask the burglar.
A majority of burglars considered the presence of deterrents such as alarms, outdoor cameras and other surveillance equipment when choosing a potential residential or commercial target, according to results of a study recently released by a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Approximately 83% of the offenders said they would attempt to determine if an alarm was present before attempting a burglary, and 60% said they would seek an alternative target. This was particularly true among the subset of burglars who were more likely to spend time deliberately and carefully planning a burglary.
Among those who discovered the presence of an alarm while attempting a burglary, half reported they would discontinue the attempt, while another 31% said they would sometimes retreat. Only 13% said they would always continue the attempt even after an alarm had been discovered.
Other findings included:
- The presence of video surveillance was also an effective deterrent. Nearly 60% of the burglars said they would consider the presence of cameras or other video equipment when selecting a target, and more than 40% said that would be a factor in prompting them to choose another target.
- Nearly 90% of the respondents indicated their top reason for committing burglaries was related to the need to acquire drugs (51%) or money (37%), which was often used to support drug habits.
- About half reported engaging in residential burglary, while 31% committed commercial burglaries.
- Most burglars reported entering open windows or doors or forcing windows or doors open. Only about one in eight burglars reported picking locks or using a key that they had previously acquired to gain entry.
A considerable portion of the research dealt with differences between male and female burglars. For example, men tend to plan their burglaries more deliberately and are more likely to gather intelligence about a potential target ahead of time. Women appear to be more impulsive overall, engaging in “spur-of-the-moment” burglaries.
Women also indicated a preference to burglarize homes and residences during the afternoon, while men tend to focus on businesses in the late evenings. And drug use was the most frequently reported reason given by women (70%) as a motive for burglary, while men cited money as their main motivation.
One thing didn’t change across gender, however: The impact of alarms and surveillance equipment on target selection did not vary, although female burglars were more often dissuaded from attempting a burglary if they noticed signs suggesting that a particular location was protected by alarms.
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