Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses to Burglary of Single-Family Houses

The table below summarizes the responses to burglary of single-family houses, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

Situational Crime Prevention Responses
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
1Installing burglar alarmsIncreases burglars' risk of detection; deters burglars if alarms are overt; increases arrests if alarms are silent or coverttriggered alarms are promptly investigatedExpensive; high percentage of false alarms; burglars may disable alarms or work quickly
2Installing closed-circuit television (CCTV)Deters many burglars; increases burglars' risk of detection and arrestcameras are well positioned and not easily disabledExpensive, but costs are dropping; can be motion-activated; provides investigative evidence; complements burglar alarms
3Hardening targets Makes it more difficult for burglars to break inhouses are not well securedDeters opportunistic burglars; residents who need it the most may not be able to afford security measures
4Marking propertyMakes it more difficult for burglars to dispose of goodsdesirable property can be markedRequires residents' participation and investigative follow-up; publicity increases the benefits
5Increasing occupancy indicatorsGives burglars the impression that residents are homeburglars are deterred by occupancySome burglars use tactics to confirm occupancy
6Creating safe havensIncreases burglars' risk of detection through a combination of security measuresperimeter and entry points can be controlledExpensive; might displace burglaries to lower-income neighborhoods
7Improving visibilityIncreases burglars' risk of detectionthere is someone around to spot a burglarInexpensive; does not work if no one is around or if witnesses fail to act
8Implementing Neighborhood Watch (NW) programs Increases burglars' risk of detectionthere are well- established neighbor relations and residents can detect strangersDifficult to ensure participation over time; residents must be at home during vulnerable periods
9Modifying building codes Makes it more difficult for burglars to break inresidents and developers willingly comply with the codesNot always expensive; the results are not immediate
10Modifying community design Increases burglars' risk of detection and makes it more difficult for them to break indesign changes can be incorporated into new developmentsMay have a long-term impact
11Reducing traffic access Increases burglars' risk of detectionburglars do not live in the neighborhoodMay inconvenience residents
12Reducing house access Makes it more difficult for burglars to break invisibility cannot be enhancedCan be tailored to individual properties
Victim-Oriented Responses
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
13Protecting repeat victims Decreases victims' risk of further burglaries, and increases burglars' risk of detectionburglaries are concentrated at a few addresses, and strategies can be implemented quicklyCombines prevention and detection; cost-effective; targets the people who need help the most
Offender-Oriented Responses
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
14Targeting repeat offenders Increases burglars' risk of detectionthere is a small, identifiable group of chronic offendersMay include truancy programs, tracking probationers and others, or high-level surveillance
15Disrupting stolen-property outlets Makes it more difficult for burglars to dispose of goodsthe stolen goods are in high demandRequires continued monitoring of markets for stolen goods
16Providing substance abuse treatment Helps offenders overcome their addiction, reducing their need to commit burglary to get money for drugs and/or alcoholeffective programs can be developed and provided to chronic offendersExpensive; may be difficult to target the right people
17Improving initial police response and follow-up investigations Increases burglars' risk of arrestthe current police response is not adequateMay require an extensive review of police practices and resources; may be effective if strategic
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
18Increasing criminal sanctions Raises the penalties for burglary, and reduces its rewardsburglars are chronic offendersCan be tailored to individual properties
19Providing generic crime prevention adviceMakes it more difficult for burglars to break inresidents follow the adviceDifficult to target those who need it the most