Are There Differences Between Male and Female Burglars?


If someone were to ask you to imagine a hypothetical burglar, what image would your mind conjure up? If you are like most of us, you would probably think of a creepy looking man wearing dark clothing and carrying a crowbar. You probably wouldn’t think of a woman. But guess what? Female burglars do exist. And believe it or not, there are some notable differences between how theyand their male counterparts do business.

A 2013 UNC Charlotte study conducted among incarcerated burglars sought to understand what goes on in a burglar’s mind. The study confirmed things the home security industry had suspected for a while. For example, first-floor windows and doors are the preferred entry points. Of the two, burglars prefer the front door.

The study revealed some other interesting things that do not get talked about all that much. It revealed that male and female burglars think differently. As a result, they also operate a little bit differently. Let us look at a few of those things in a bit more detail.

Planning Burglaries in Advance

There has long been disagreement over whether burglars plan their jobs in advance. The answer is a simple ‘yes’ and ‘no’. According to the UNC study, males are more likely to engage in considerable planning ahead of time. They more often surveil their targets and plan their jobs more deliberately.

Female burglars are more likely to operate in the opposite manner. Rather than planning ahead of time, they tend to burglarize homes on a spur-of-the moment basis. Overall, only about 12% of the surveyed burglars planned most of their jobs. Some 41% said they did not regularly plan while 37% mixed both planned and unplanned jobs.


Preferred Time of Day

It is generally accepted that burglaries are more likely to happen during the daylight hours.

Crime statistics bear that out. Burglars prefer late morning and midafternoon hours because that’s when homes are most likely to be vacant. Knowing this, do males and females prefer different times? Apparently, they do.

The UNC study revealed that women prefer to commit burglaries during the afternoon hours while men prefer late evening. This particular finding is a bit curious in light of national crime statistics. Nonetheless, male and female burglars do express different time preferences.

Reasons for Committing Burglary

Male and female burglars even report different motivations. For example, the majority of men surveyed in the UNC study said they commit burglaries primarily to earn money.

Females were a little bit more specific. Some 70% reported that burglary was a tool to feed a drug habit.

This particular difference maybe semantic only. Perhaps female burglars are more willing to admit drug addiction where male burglars, though they might be spending the money they make on drugs, aren’t willing to admit doing so. Unfortunately, a summary of the UNC study is somewhat ambiguous on this point.


Reactions to Security Measures

Perhaps the most surprising finding of the UNC study was how female burglars react to security company signs. While both males and females were similar in their general responses to home security measures (more on that later) females reported being more skittish when it comes to signage.

In other words, lawn signs and window placards are more effective at scaring away female burglars. Females reported being more often turned away from a target if security company signage was displayed. Perhaps this suggests they are less willing to risk even the slightest chance of getting caught.

More About Home Security Systems

In addition to studying the differences between male and female burglars, UNC researchers also spent a significant amount of time gleaning data relating to home security systems.

That data backs up what companies like Vivint Smart Home say about security systems as deterrents to property crimes.

The majority of burglars pay close attention to their surroundings when selecting a target.

They observe to see how many people are around. They look for pets. They also check carefully for home security equipment, including video surveillance cameras. This sort of pre-entry inspection is common across both sexes.


The UNC study also revealed the following:

83% of burglars check for home security before proceeding
50% would abandon a burglary attempt upon discovering an alarm.

1. Checking for Security Systems

The fact that 83% of burglars check for home security systems prior to beginning a burglary says something. They know home security systems increase their chances of getting caught. That’s why they check. But what if they actually find installed security equipment? Survey respondents said that they would abandon a target in favor of something easier at a rate of 60%.

The numbers clearly indicate that home security systems deter burglary. They do not deter every burglar, but nothing will. A burglar determined enough to break in and steal will do so regardless of any impediments in their path.

2. Discovering a Security System

Among the burglars who discover home security systems while in the act, half say they would abandon those homes rather than proceeding. Just 13% claimed they would always proceed regardless, while 31% reported that abandoning the target was an option to consider. Home security systems are not as strong a deterrent once a burglary has been initiated.

Perhaps that’s because burglars figure they have already been discovered. They might just as well take their chances and complete the job. But still, only 13% of those surveyed insist they would always proceed with a job even after discovering a home security system.

The UNC Charlotte study continues to be among the most respected studies detailing how burglars think. It is fascinating to note that male and female burglars think differently, despite so many areas in which they think similarly. There are enough differences between them to draw conclusions as to how and why homes are burglarized.

Yes, there are differences between male and female burglars. Overall, the best way to stop both is with a home security system.