Hearing about a crime committed in your own community is terrifying, especially when it involves something as personal as home burglaries. It’s scary and disturbing to imagine a stranger prowling inside a family’s living space and many victims report feeling violated and deeply saddened after such incidents. Property crimes are all too common, with a residential robbery committed every 90 seconds in Canada. These criminals target all types of areas and homes and without proper security, there are few safety guarantees. Despite the frequency and impact of these instances, identifying and prosecuting these offenders is shockingly rare.
The main reason for this is evidence or lack thereof. Though crime shows on TV show a wealth of technology available to detect even the smallest clue, real life is less sophisticated. Police will inspect the home and interview neighbours, but in many cases they’re left with little to work with. Most break-ins take place during the mid-afternoon on weekdays where the bulk of the neighbourhood is away at work or school. Unless the residence is equipped with a doorbell camera or interior security cameras, there is unlikely to be any concrete proof of their identity. Additionally, many criminals take measures to conceal their appearance including dressing as repairmen who blend seamlessly into any area. The cover provided by trees and overgrown shrubs also hides anyone covertly entering a house.
The length of a burglary is also surprisingly short, making it even more challenging for passersby to catch a glance of any unknown prowlers. These types of robberies are quick and efficient, lasting less than 15 minutes. The thieves quickly grab easily transportable items such as cash, smartphones and prescription drugs and quickly exit the area to reduce their chance of capture.
The average culprit is male, aged 30-50, making them a typical suburban resident and unlikely to stand out. They also tend to be inexperienced with committing crime, making it less likely they will be known to police.
Do criminals return? The scariest part of a low solve-rate for burglaries is the terrifying fear that a thief may return. Alarmingly – they sometimes do. Since they successfully gained uninterrupted entry to the home and found valuables, crooks have been known to target the same locations multiple times. One of the only effective methods for reducing this threat to almost zero is by increasing security through upgraded locks, secure windows or the installation of a home security system.
Insurance companies also provide discounts to homes equipped with alarms. Regardless, these organizations distribute payouts to customers following burglary claim submissions. However, depending on the deductible and certain stipulations, this may not necessarily replace the full list of the stolen items. More importantly, no money will restore a sense of peace to the affected family.
Homeowners with video surveillance, such as doorbell cameras, have used the technology to apprehend potential burglars and suspicious prowlers. Police also release snippets of the recording to the public which in many cases results in recognition and arrests.