Around 32 million security alarm systems have been installed in the U.S. and most of these are monitored systems, according to a 2011 report by the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office of the U.S. Department of Justice. Approximately three million new home security systems are installed each year and around 60% of them are in residences with the other 40% installed in commercial or institutional settings. At least one out of five U.S. residences has an alarm system.
Which cities in the U.S. are safest in terms of home burglary and why are those cities leading the way in terms of keeping a lid on burglaries? Here are some answers along with the 10 cities with the fewest reported burglaries per 100,000 residents, according to 2010 statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
1. New York City: 17, 926 burglaries; 8,336,002 residents
New Yorkers have benefited from the longest and most impressive drop in crime of any large city in the developed world, with burglary rates dropping by more than 80% from 1992 to 2009.
2. Santa Ana, CA: 1,116 burglaries; 340,240 residents
Santa Ana, like New York City, has adopted a "community policing" policy that emphasizes a close partnership between the city's citizens and their police. The city has also seriously cracked down on gang activity and has developed closer ties with schools in an attempt to address after-school crime by juvenile offenders. Santa Ana's burglary rate is 323 per 100,000 residents.
3. El Paso, TX: 1,953 burglaries; 624,322 residents
El Paso is consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in the U.S. despite being right across the border from Juarez, considered by some criminologists to be the most dangerous city in the world. University of Texas, El Paso lecturer Melinda Lauck partly attributes the city's low crime rate to its high illegal immigrant population: "Immigrants don’t want to gamble with their status in the country." El Paso's burglary rate is 339 per 100,000 residents.
4. San Jose, CA: 3,940 burglaries; 970,252 residents
San Jose, with a burglary rate of 366 per 100,000 people, attributes its low burglary rate partly to a strong police force. Unfortunately, this statistic may change with newer statistics showing that after cutting its police force by 25%, parts of the city have seen burglary rates climb.
5. Anchorage, AK: 1,223 burglaries; 290,334 residents
Despite having a high violent crime rate, Anchorage has one of the lowest burglary rates in the U.S., at 425 per 100,000 residents. This could be due to any number of factors including use of home security systems and harsh weather conditions.
6. Virginia Beach, VA: 2,151 burglaries; 435,873 residents
Despite being located between the southeast U.S. and the northeast U.S. (both high crime regions), Virginia Beach enjoys a low burglary rate. The city is home to an organization called Virginia Beach Crime Solvers, a partnership between the community, police and local media, that has helped solve more than 15,166 crimes since its founding.
7. Anaheim, CA: 1,594 burglaries; 338,482 residents
Anaheim has a historically low burglary rate, but has experienced an uptick in overall crime rates due to tight budgets and California's inmate realignment plan. However, the police department is determined to keep a lid on all crime rates, including burglary (with a rate of 481 per 100,000 residents) and has stepped up patrols in high crime areas.
8. Los Angeles, CA: 17,410 burglaries; 3,841,707 residents
Despite a still-ailing economy, L.A. has seen a continued drop in crime rates, and law enforcement admits it isn't entirely because of them. A sheriff's spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times, "Communities seem to be banding together to fight crime. We can't take the complete credit."
9. Chandler, AZ: 1,373 burglaries; 241,826 residents
Chandler is known as a quiet, family-friendly suburb of Phoenix with low rates of crime, including burglaries (559 burglaries per 100,000 residents). Much of its development is newer than other areas around Phoenix, so Chandler homes are more likely to be pre-wired for home security systems.
10. Boston, MA: 3,587 burglaries; 644,064 residents
Boston boasts a burglary rate of 578 per 100,000 residents, and keeps its crime rate low partly through a focus on community policing like that of New York and L.A. Another contributor may be simple demographics: as the population ages, crime rates of all types decrease.
The 10 cities with the lowest burglary rates per 100,000 residents in America are certainly not perfect, but they are able to keep burglary rates under control through a combination of measures. Community involvement, the tendency for neighbors to get to know each other, the presence of home security systems and neighborhoods working with law enforcement are common contributors to low burglary rates.