Most Americans don’t know when their homes are most vulnerable to break-ins

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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What makes your home vulnerable to break-ins?

Feeling safe and secure in your living environment is a critical part of making home feel like home. As a result, most people don’t like to think about the fact that their house could be vulnerable to break-in or burglary. Yet there were 1,230,149 burglaries in 2018 alone, resulting in an average loss of $2,799 for each affected homeowner. 

Being prepared with safety measures is an important part of burglary prevention, and maintaining a home insurance policy to cover damages is essential should the worst happen. 

We ran a survey to find out how well informed Americans are on home break-in trends and found: 

  • 70% of Americans don’t know home break-ins peak during summer.
  • Only 17% of Americans know what time of day home break-ins are most likely to occur.
  • 54% of Americans don’t have a home security system.

More than two-thirds of Americans don’t know break-ins peak in summer

When the temperature rises, so do home burglaries. According to a study published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, home burglaries are 11% more common in the summer than in the winter. This may be because we are more likely to leave windows open and doors unlocked, and leave home to spend time outside enjoying warm days. 

Only 1 in 3 people indicated they were aware of the increased risk of break-ins during the warmer months, and 51% of respondents said they believed seasonality didn’t affect home break-ins at all. Most Americans could be bypassing important summertime preventative measures, like installing window locks for open windows and trimming overgrowth that could make it easy for a burglar to break in unseen. 



Only 25% of those who live in the south know the correct answer, compared to 32% across the rest of the country. Because winters in the south are milder, it may be that burglaries are less affected by seasonality. 

Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans know what time of day home break-ins are most likely to occur

When imagining a home break-in, many picture a burglar skulking in the shadows of night. Yet research shows that the majority of home break-ins happen between noon and 4 p.m. — while many Americans are away from their homes. 

When asked about what time of day burglaries were most likely to occur, only 17% of respondents answered correctly. Forty-seven percent of people believed the time of day didn’t matter at all. These beliefs could lull homeowners into a false sense of security, believing that as long as it’s light out, they’re safe to leave windows open and doors unlocked. 

In fact, 36% of burglaries don’t even involve breaking and entering. More than a third of burglars are able to walk directly into the house or crawl in via an open window. 


Less than half of Americans have a home security system

Fifty-four percent of people polled said they didn’t have a home security system. This is shocking, considering a recent study found 60% of burglars would entirely avoid a home that had a security system. 

Additionally, a small percentage of respondents who have a home security system admitted to never using it. Three percent of those polled said they never turn their home security system on. 

Not only can installing a home security system save you thousands in damages and lost property, but it can also save a ton on home insurance. One study found that the 10 largest insurance companies offer discounts of up 20% for homes with security systems. 


Home burglary myths

How savvy are you when it comes to keeping your home safe? Test your knowledge against these common myths: 

Myth: Break-ins are more likely to occur at night

Despite the association of crime with the overnight hours, home break-ins are 6% more likely to happen in the middle of the day, when more homeowners and neighbors are at work. 

Myth: Home theft is on the rise

Though burglaries and crime may be reported on more often than ever, the rate of burglaries has been decreasing for years. America experienced 27% fewer break-ins in 2017 compared to just four years earlier. 

Myth: Living in a big city puts you at risk

Most people assume that larger cities are prone to crimes like burglaries and break-ins, yet the data shows rural areas are at a higher risk, as there are fewer people to witness a break-in at a more remote home. 

How to keep your home safe

There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of a home break-in. These could include: 

  • Create the illusion someone is home by leaving a TV on or parking a car in the driveway. 
  • Replace elements that are vulnerable to break-ins like older window frames and hollow wooden doors. Steel or solid wood doors are much harder to kick down. 
  • Keep windows and doors locked, and install window locks if you do open them.
  • Install a home camera and make sure it’s clearly visible.
  • Ensure outdoor areas are well-lit.
  • Remove or trim overgrown shrubbery to discourage lurkers.

Though you can’t predict what life will throw at you, being prepared for any scenario is the best way to keep your home and family safe. The Zebra is here to make sure you know all your options when it comes to finding homeowners insurance coverage



This study was conducted for The Zebra using Google Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,500 completed responses per question. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. This survey was conducted in February 2020. 

  1. Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender's Perspective. ResearchGate

  2. Burglary. FBI

  3. Helpful tips on how to protect your home from burglary. Nationwide