Convicted Burglars Admit Alarm Systems Are Deterrents

IRVING, Texas — A new survey funded by the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF) reveals that burglars are often deterred from specific targets that have alarm systems installed.

Conducted by criminal justice professors from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC), the report titled “Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender’s Perspective,” uses feedback from 422 incarcerated male and female burglars across North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio.

Roughly, 83% of respondents reported that they would try to determine if an alarm was present before attempting a burglary, while 60% stated that an alarm system would cause them to seek an alternative target. More than half of the intruders said they would discontinue the burglary if they discovered an alarm. Another 31% said they would consider discontinuing the burglary, while 13% said they would continue regardless.

Other findings include:

  • Nearly 60% of the burglars said they would consider the presence of cameras or other surveillance equipment when selecting a target, and more than 40% said that would be a factor in prompting them to choose another target.
  • About half of the respondents reported engaging in residential burglary, while 31% said they preferred commercial targets.
  • Nearly 90% of the respondents indicated their top reason for committing burglaries was related to the need to acquire drugs (51%) or money (37%), which was often used to support drug habits.
  • Slightly less than a third of the offenders reported that they collected information about a potential target prior to initiating a burglary attempt, suggesting that most burglars are impulsive to some degree. About 12% indicated that they typically planned the burglary, 41% suggested it was most often a “spur of the moment” event/offense, and the other 37% reported that it varied.

“This study adds to our understanding of burglars, their motivations and their techniques,” says Dr. Joseph Kuhns of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, UNC. “It also helps us gain insights into the impact of demographic differences. By asking the burglars themselves what motivates and what deters them, we believe this research can help people better understand how to protect themselves against these crimes.”

To read the full study, click here.

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