A scattered thicket of broken glass, drawers and cupboards torn open as if imploded. You've returned to find that your beloved home has been ransacked. Sifting through the debris, mired by careless hands, you begin to wonder what they were looking for, and if they found it. You immediately calculate what in your household you would take if you were a burglar; but then again, we know our stockpiles well, and the love for our items is often sentimental, not superficial.
It is important to note that property crime has been consistently diminishing since records became available in the 1970s. At the time of first collection in 1973, 110 of every 1,000 households in America suffered a burglary over the course of the year. That number, by 2008, had been mitigated to less than a quarter of its size - 26 of every 1,000 [Bureau of Justice Statistics, Property Crime].
Yet, while inspiring, these statistics offer little comfort to the burglarized, especially in the wake of an economic recession, where miscreants have become far more desperate. The Washington post unveiled in 2005 that the average burglary accounts for $1,725 of property loss, or damage. This finding also remarks on the goods most often appropriated: "Favorite items (include): cash, jewelry, electronic equipment, silver, guns and other items easy to sell." [Washington Post, "Anatomy of a Burglary"]. Most often these crooks will head to a pawn shop to quickly unload the goods they've secured on an unsuspecting shop owner; this hasty selling of stolen goods is called "fencing". Mandatory holding periods for pawned goods, and positive identification matches have been put in place as safeguards against this practice, to protect the broker and the owner of the absconded items.
While a ski mask and tire iron are easy for anyone to don, Washington post also concludes that, "The typical house burglar is a male teenager who lives within a couple of miles of your home. The chance of being victimized by a professional thief is low". This suggests that items of interest to a youth would more frequently be stolen; Ipods, cameras, gaming systems, bicycles. Younger would-be criminals would also not have the ability to pawn items without an adult present, making the rapid selling of goods more tedious for them, and giving you more time to act. However, adult friends who have offered the perpetrator cash for certain lucrative items may be the actual recipients of your things, and will not hesitate to sell them.
With youth committing the majority of these crimes, it stands to reason that many burglaries are by first-time offenders. Amateur delinquents will look for easy targets to prey upon, perhaps scouting out or "casing the joint" first. Locks, deadbolts, motion-activated flood lights, and bold window advertisements for security systems (real or not) may help to deter them. Washington post declares that, "Burglars want to spend no more than sixty seconds breaking into a home"; their fear of being caught, or misevaluation of their target gives them little time to slip up. Many home invasions are perpetrated by drug addicts who are seeking their buzz money by robbing your home, and are already paranoid to the utmost from the effects of their drug. Cash and discreet, valuable items- items not suspiciously expensive, but reasonably valuable - will be the target of most raids.
Never attempt to catch a burglar mid-crime, or try to apprehend them, even if you are confident and armed to the teeth. If you find yourself at home in the midst of a robbery, hide or abandon the house if at all possible. From a safe distance, let the police know what is going on, and give them explicit details about the robber once they arrive. Your items are retrievable, but once you interrupt a burglar, your life may not be.