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Burglaries in Germany: where, how and when intruders strike

Even if the numbers have declined in recent years, there are still more than eleven burglaries per hour in Germany. We show where and when the perpetrators strike most often and which houses are particularly at risk.

  1. Burglaries in Germany by state
  2. When do the most break-ins occur?
  3. Which houses and apartments are most at risk?
  4. Who are the burglars?
  5. What are the burglars stealing?

267 times - the number of times that German apartments are broken into every day. Even if the number of burglaries fell by 16.3 percent in 2018 and is below the 100,000 case mark for the first time since 1997 - there are still more than eleven burglaries per hour.

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In total, burglars captured stolen goods worth 260.7 million euros last year. And the chance of getting the stolen items back or catching the thieves is not particularly great. The clearing-up rate is just 18.1 percent - although the police successes are very different in the individual federal states.

But where do most of the break-ins take place, which houses and apartments are particularly at risk, when do the thieves strike - and where is the clearance rate highest?

We have summarized the most important answers for you.

Burglaries in Germany by state

Anyone who lives in Bavaria has the slightest chance of becoming a victim of burglary. In no other federal state are the number of cases in terms of residents so low. The least secure property is in apartments in Bremen.

And in Bremen, the prospect that a burglary will be cleared up is also the worst. Only in Saarland, Thuringia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Lower Saxony, on average, a quarter of police investigations into break-ins are successful.

The south of the country is also ahead when it comes to the safest cities. Burglaries are least common in Erlangen, Reutlingen, Würzburg, Fürth and Regensburg. Bremen, Saarbrücken, Bonn, Dortmund and Mühlheim an der Ruhr have the most slumps relative to the number of inhabitants. In Bremen there is a break-in eleven times as often as an Erlangen.

But the police in the Hanseatic city also have something positive to report: In no other federal state did the break-ins in 2018 fall as much as in Bremen - by a full 27.1 percent compared to the previous year. In almost all of the other federal states, too, the authorities noticed a decline in the number of burglaries. Only in Saxony-Anhalt (+ 3.9 percent) and Saarland are thieves more active. In the Saarland, the slump climbed by as much as 23.4 percent.

When do the most break-ins occur?

Most break-ins happen during the summer holiday season and at night - this is a common misconception.

Break-ins by season and months

Because from a seasonal point of view, the number of cases in the autumn and winter months is significantly higher than in summer. According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the fewest break-ins were recorded in July. December, on the other hand, is the most dangerous month. Shortly before Christmas, thieves don't just expect to steal more. December is also the month with the least daylight - ideal for thieves to stay unseen.

Time-of-day break-ins

Another myth is that the risk of break-ins is higher at night. The perpetrators appreciate the darkness, but at night there is a very high risk that someone will be at home. Therefore, according to a report by the German Insurance Association (GDV), the risk of a break-in between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. is also quite low at three percent.

Between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. it is already 13.6 percent. The GDV found that the risk of a break-in is greatest when the perpetrators expect an empty house. The most dangerous time is therefore between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. During this period, 70 percent of all break-ins are carried out.

Break-ins by day of the week

The day of the week also plays a role in the risk of break-ins. Most break-ins are registered on Fridays and fewest on Sundays.

Which houses and apartments are most at risk?

According to a research report on break-ins by the North Rhine-Westphalian police in 2017, metropolises and urban regions are more at risk of break-ins than rural areas.

In addition, several factors are decisive for the perpetrators when choosing the object. The thieves are more likely to break into houses and terraced houses

  • from the elderly,
  • in ethnically heterogeneous areas,
  • in the vicinity of the perpetrator's place of residence,
  • with a good connection to main roads (escape route),
  • with a - and this is surprising - clearly visible, rear garden (probably also because of the possibility of escape)
  • in areas where land prices are rather high and where there are many single-family houses.

Even those who live in an apartment building are not safe from a break-in. In interviews with perpetrators, British researchers found that the main attraction here lies in the fact that several apartments can be cleared out at the same time.

And contrary to another myth, it is not the uppermost apartments that are the safest here, but the most unsafe. If perpetrators break into an apartment building, the topmost apartments are usually cleared first. Because: the further up, the lower the risk of being discovered.

Who are the burglars?

Most of the burglars have German citizenship and come from the respective region, according to the BKA. Often they are already known to the police and are made up of older habitual offenders as well as gangs of young people and drug users. Often the thieves want to finance their drug addiction with the break-in, according to the authority.

However, the proportion of nationally and internationally active suspects has increased continuously in recent years. The BKA describes them as "traveling perpetrators", who often come from Southeastern and Eastern Europe.

Most of the perpetrators are men, according to criminologists. But not only. Gangs in particular often send young women on theft tour - because they are less noticeable.

What are the burglars stealing?

As a rule, it is important to thieves to be inconspicuous - and to be quick. According to the police, a break-in does not take longer than five minutes on average. There is not much time left to steal large objects.

That is why the perpetrators prefer everything that is valuable, not well hidden and that fits in a jacket pocket. Cash, jewelry, smartphones. Laptops are also often stolen. Televisions, on the other hand, are far too unwieldy and therefore little sought after as stolen goods.

In 2018, the average damage caused by a break-in was 2,850 euros, according to GDV. That's 400 euros less than in 2016 - but still 2,850 euros too much.