- 83,000 burglaries occurred during the holiday period last year
- Crimes during holidays account for 8.1% of all crimes committed throughout the year
- An estimated $130.5 million in value was lost to holiday burglaries in 2021
- The average dollar amount for a holiday burglary is $2,891 – 5% higher than the average on other days ($2,740)
- Jewelry, computers and furs are ~10% more likely to be stolen during the holiday season than during other times of the year
- Las Vegas, NV sees the nation’s costliest holiday burglaries with each taking an estimated $9,165 in stolen property
- Holiday burglaries bottom out most in New Mexico, where they are 76% less likely to occur during the festive season
Roughly 1 million burglaries take place in America annually. Roughly 83,000 of those take place during the month of December — or in other words, during the holiday season.
Armed with the most detailed crime statistics from the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, we combed through residential burglary reports to determine where holiday burglaries are most prevalent, how much value Americans lose to burglaries during the holiday season, and much more.
Costlier But As Frequent: Holiday Burglaries In a Nutshell
If the number of overall burglaries was distributed equally across all months of the year, each month would see about 8.3% of the yearly crimes committed.
This is, a little more or less, actually the case when we look at burglary statistics at the national level. December burglaries make up 8.2% of all burglaries that occur in the United States annually.
As documented by previous reports, the number of home break-ins produces a small peak in the summer months, and then generally trails off toward the winter months, bottoming out in the spring.
“Perhaps because its beach homes are sitting empty in the winter, New Jersey is where burglaries peak during the holiday season in America.”
While we can accept that burglaries do happen during what is a festive time for most Americans, surely, nobody would actually burgle a home on Christmas Day? Well, turns out, that’s not exactly the case.
Almost 5,000 homes were burgled either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day last year, with roughly 2,700 break-ins taking place on the 24th and about 2,200 on the 25th.
How holidays do impact burglaries
One metric by which holiday break-ins do stand out is the reported value of the stolen property.
While the annual average amount lost to burglary is $2,740, this number rises towards the end of the year.
For December burglaries in 2021, the average value of stolen items is $2,891, which is 5% higher than the annual average, and second only to burglaries in November, when it peaks at $2,943.
Jewelry, Gadgets, Furs: What Holiday Thieves Are More Likely to Steal
In terms of what gets stolen, holiday burglaries are, by and large, just like burglaries at any other time of the year; thieves tend to grab money, TV sets, and expensive household tools.
“Almost 5,000 homes were burgled either on Christmas Eve or Christmas day last year…”
That said, three types of items are more likely to be stolen during the holiday season than during other times of the year. Jewelry and precious metals are 11% more likely to be taken on holidays, while both computers and clothes/furs are 8% more likely to be stolen.
Household tools, on the other hand, a surprising staple among stolen items in burglary cases, are 10% less likely to be taken by burglars during the holiday season.
Empty Beach Houses? By State, New Jersey Sees the Biggest Bump in Holiday Burglaries
Perhaps because its beach homes are sitting empty in the winter, New Jersey is where burglaries peak during the holiday season in America.
The number of burglaries in the Garden State that occur in December is 59% higher than in an average month, the biggest bump of all states.
Pennsylvania and Illinois aren’t too far behind. In these two states, burglaries jump by about 40% around the holidays, compared to during other months of the year.
On the flip side, some states see their burglaries plummet in time for the holidays. In New Mexico, for example, the number of burglaries in December is 76% lower than in other months. In Hawaii, there is a 66% drop in average, while Vermont and New Hampshire see about a 45% drop in December crimes.
Metro Analysis: Holiday Break-Ins Spike Highest in Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ
Continuing on from New Jersey being the state with the highest share of burglaries happening around the holidays, the top metro by the same metric is also in the Garden State. (“Metro areas” are defined as densely populated cities in combination with any geographically surrounding areas with a comparable density.)
“Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI (incidentally home to Winnetka, IL, the setting and filming location of Home Alone), comes in at third place, where holiday burglaries see a 66% bump during December.”
In Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ, a metro on the famous Jersey shore, almost one in five burglaries (18.3%) occurs during the month of December; burglary is 120% more likely to happen at this time of year than in any other month.
In second place of this unfortunate ranking is the Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ metro area, where the number of burglaries jumps by 71% in December, as compared to the monthly average.
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI (incidentally home to Winnetka, IL, the setting and filming location of Home Alone), comes in at third place, where holiday burglaries see a 66% bump during December.
Conversely, a different metro area in the state of Illinois is where homes get burgled least frequently during the festive season. Together with Topeka, KS, Danville, IL is the metropolitan area where burglaries are 94% less likely to occur in December, accounting for just 0.5% of all yearly house break-ins.
Burglaries in the Honolulu, HI, and Albuquerque, NM metros, just like in their respective states, are also comparatively rarer around holiday time.
By State, Californians Lose Most to Burglaries During the Festive Season
As we have already established, burglaries in December tend to cost Americans 5% more than burglaries that occur during other months of the year. But where do holiday burglaries claim the most in stolen property?
“The metro area where holiday burglaries cost victims the most is in Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV, where the average December burglary claims $9,165, by far the highest amount of any metropolitan area in our analysis.”
At the state level, break-ins during the festive season are the costliest in California. The average amount lost to a December burglary in the Golden State is $5,929, which is 36% more than in the next closest state, Connecticut ($4,336).
New Jersey, where such burglaries are surprisingly common, also makes the top 10 with an average of $2,901 in stolen property. Meanwhile, New Hampshire, despite holiday burglaries being relatively rare, claims a high average of $2,766 in losses per burglary during the month of December.
Only in two states is the average amount lost per burglary lower than $1,000: Mississippi ($884) and Nebraska ($806).
Stealing in the Sin City Metro: Holiday Burglaries Prove Costliest in the Las Vegas area
The metro area where holiday burglaries cost victims the most is in Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV, where the average December burglary claims $9,165, by far the highest amount of any metropolitan area in our analysis.
The Mobile, AL metro area has the second-highest average amount lost to holiday burglars, sitting at $6,393. Lexington-Fayette, KY ($5,945) and San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA ($5,929) are also high on the list.
Curiously, there are three different Texan metros among those where burglaries during the holiday season cause the most damage. They are Lubbock, TX ($3,992), Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX ($3,821), and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX ($3,533).
Holiday burglaries may be more common in some places than in others, but it’s worth keeping in mind that overall, burglaries are in decline in the United States and have been for forty years.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to take a few steps to keep your home safe during the festive season, and indeed, throughout the year.
For holiday-specific home safety advice, check out these great tips from BobVilla. And for more must-know information on how to protect your home from being burgled any time of the year, check out these resources on home security systems and how to secure a home on a budget.
Sources and Methodology
All crime statistics were taken from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Data Explorer. For metros in Florida, due to low rates of participation in the federal crime statistics, burglary statistics were sourced from crime statistics produced by their local police forces.
All analyses and charts are based on residential burglaries only. All burglaries taking place in the month of December were deemed “holiday burglaries”.
Illustrations by Heather Vaughan