Why have burglaries declined?

Eric H. points to the question of why burglaries have declined steadily, when other crime rates have been more volatile.  Here is one bit:

Criminologists have a lot of theories why burglaries are so different…"If you’re going to do a burglary, you need to have some buyers," Mathis says. "Everybody has everything now."

Mathis says there’s just too much on the street already. Everyone he knows already has a digital camera, iPod knockoffs and pirated DVDs shipped in from China. "And if it’s not new, a lot of people don’t even want to fool with it," Mathis says. Forget about last year’s video games and old laptops, Mathis says. And don’t even bring a VCR or boxy TV to the street.

"You can get a TV for nothing almost," he says. "People are giving them away now."

In other words, we have fewer burglaries because of low wages in China.  You’ll note that the standard Baumol-Bowen model of the cost-disease predicts an ongoing decline in burglaries.  Goods become cheaper over time, and thus not worth stealing, while services grow more expensive over time.  It is usually harder to steal services so burglary rates should fall.

The article also cites the decline of heavy drug use, better locks and deadbolts, and more widespread use of locks, plus less cash left around the house.  Some experts cite greater neighborhood vigilance.  Note that robberies are not falling in similar fashion, which suggests that criminals prefer to get the victim away from home turf advantage.

Here is further information.  British burglary is falling too.


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