Home burglaries — NJ’s rate is among the lowest
If you're one of those people who hate it when strangers enter your home and steal your stuff, you're in luck!
Using crime data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a study from SafeHome.org found New Jersey has one of the lowest rates of residential burglaries in the nation.
The Garden State saw 4.44 such burglaries per 1,000 housing units in the year 2017, according to the report — not as great as the rate of 2.73 posted by nation-leading New Hampshire, but tremendously better than New Mexico's rate of 12.84 per 1,000. Eleven states recorded a residential burglary rate that at least doubled New Jersey's rate.
New Jersey State Police data show 24,859 burglaries in 2017 — both residential and commercial — a decline of 5.3% from the year prior.
Like most crimes, burglary is becoming less common in New Jersey and the U.S. Nationwide, the total number of burglaries fell by nearly 40% between 1998 and 2017, the SafeHome.org report noted.
One's ability to obtain surveillance on their home, or at least their front door, has improved dramatically over the years. Doorbell-cameras such as Ring can be purchased online or in store for as little as $99. When there's activity outside, the homeowner is alerted.
But the Garden State has made its own strides in helping reduce the likelihood of home burglaries, according to John Paitakes, a professor of criminal justice at Rider University and a former probation officer in Somerset County.
Many crimes such as a burglary are committed by repeat offenders, Paitakes said. New Jersey has a series of efforts in place to prepare convicted criminals, while they're behind bars and when they're released, for a successful transition to the outside world — one that doesn't involve re-offending.
"If they don't have any job training or any vocational skills when they get out of prison, what are they going to do for money?" Paitakes said. "The goal is to prepare them to get a viable job when they get out, instead of turning to burglaries and other things."
Experts say this process is a main reason for a significant drop in the state's prison population over the past two decades — from about 31,000 inmates to approximately 19,000.
Paitakes also pointed to a "resurgence" of community policing, and successful neighborhood watch programs, as reasons for New Jersey's impressive performance in this area.
According to the SafeHome.org report, weather may play a role in the prevalence of burglary in each state. The median annual temperatures for the 10 states with the lowest residential burglary rates, including New Jersey, averaged out to just 48 degrees. That average amounted to about 59 degrees in the states with the highest rates.
Burglaries were far less common in the Northeast compared to any other region of the country, according to the report.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.