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Burglary Prevention

January 17, 1968

Report Outline
Prevalence of the Crime of Burglary
Types of Burglars and Burglary Methods
Ways to Foil Home and Office Burglars
Special Focus

Prevalence of the Crime of Burglary

Every 23 seconds, a burglary takes place somewhere in the United States. Burglary is by far the most common of the seven types of crime the F.B.I. classifies as “major.” In 1966, the last year for which complete data are available, 1,370,300 burglaries were committed—about one-half of them involving homes and one-half business establishments. The total value of unrecovered property was estimated at $340 million. The President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, in its February 1967 report on crime, stated: “It is a plausible assumption that the prevalence of the two crimes of burglary and robbery is a significant, if not a major, reason for America's alarm about crime, and that finding effective ways of protecting the community from those two crimes would do much to make ‘crime’ as a whole less frightening and to bring it within manageable bounds.”

The American public's attitude toward crime is inconsistent. The crimes most people fear are those involving violence, yet these occur least frequently. “Not only are the risks of injury by violence slight relative to the risks of injury or death from other causes, but the risk of serious attack by strangers is about half as great as it is from persons well known to the victim.” In contrast, the much more numerous crimes against property are treated almost with indulgence. “The average citizen probably suffers the greatest economic loss as a result of crimes against businesses and public institutions which pass on their losses in the form of increased prices and taxes. Nevertheless, most shoplifters are never arrested, and employees suspected of dishonesty are either warned or dismissed” but seldom prosecuted.

Because public opinion polls show crime to be one of the leading worries of adult Americans, many political observers expect it to be an issue in the 1968 presidential election campaign. President Johnson, in a special message to Congress on crime, Feb. 6, 1967, proposed legislation designed to aid state and local law enforcement agencies through federal grants. None of the President's proposals was enacted at last year's session of Congress.

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