(Remember, not a professional study, just my simple tally of things seen in the videos available in YouTube)

I went over a hundred videos in YouTube to see if I could get some sort of pattern we could use to lower the number of guns stolen from cars. I wanted to know basically how long it takes for a burglar to break in ransack and leave with goodies and what was the method of entry. I ended up tallying 63 videos that clearly showed method of entry and ran the entire time from the moment entry to the vehicle was gained till burglar left. These videos are the original from the victims either posted by them or a few LEO agencies that did not edit the content. Videos from News organizations were not tallied as they edited for time. Still those videos edited gave me confirmation of many of the things I will mention later down this post.

Let’s say I had assumptions and  they were shattered.  I figured busting windows was the favorite way to gain access and that it took them 3-4 minutes to go through the car and steal all the stuff.

Method of Entry:

73% Unlocked vehicle

17% Breaking window

7% Window down

2% Locked forced open

2% Trunk left unlocked

People, it is not a question of gear, it is  question of absent-mindedness, of carelessness and irresponsibility, specially when you find out that over 90% of the videos were home surveillance videos.  Basically, 82% of the break ins are the fault of the owner of the vehicle. They were preventable.

The screen caps above are from burglaries where I know guns were stolen from vehicles parked at home! Why in the name of all that is holy did the owners leave the frigging guns in the unlocked car?

And I heard some with the ditty: “It is a Gun Free Zone, but I’ll be in and out in  couple of minutes” or “I just need to run inside the house quick, it will only be a minute.” Well, I have bad news for you when it comes to a burglar breaking in, ransacking your car and leaving without being caught: the average time for a burglar to do your car is 39 seconds.  That is a TV commercial break and a teaser for the Six O’Clock news. It takes you longer that to take a piss and wash your hands, and even longer for a woman.

And here are other interesting stats related to breaking in time:

Average burglary (From Door Opening to burglar exiting the vehicle with the goods): 39 seconds.

Fastest time: 3 seconds (Smash & Grab)

Longest time: 261 seconds (4 minutes, 21 seconds)

86% of the burglaries took under one minute.

Almost all  burglars will go fully inside the vehicle.  Center console, glove compartment and under the front seats seem to be the first places they check from what I was able to see. Rear seat, floors and door pockets close the line up. Trunks get very little consideration. Surveillance cameras and motion sensor lights have zero deterrent effect as they either don’t see the cameras, don’t care if they are there and do not get scared about lights. Noise however is different. Car alarms will send them running and in couple of instances I saw if they break glass at a car parked at home, they will move down the street and wait to see if somebody comes out. If nobody comes, then they take their time inside the car. They guy who did the 261 seconds was one of them.

One important thing I saw was that the most common thing they carried with them tool-wise was a small flashlight. I saw very few videos with burglars using tools and the feeling I have is that they specifically targeted already cased vehicles. Except in one occasion, the vehicles were working vans or trucks with tools inside. The exception was one car with six figures worth of jewelry in the trunk.

Other information I gathered:

Most cases involve one individual on foot.  Two may go on foot or one checking cars and one in a getaway car. Three or more tend to involve one getaway car (Car Hopping: A group may go through a neighborhood and discover several vehicles with their doors unlocked. From there they will “toss” the vehicle and take anything of value.) One burglar ransacking per car.

Tools: The few that broke windows, appear to use spring-loaded glass breaker, one had a small hammer and some sort of punch and another used a rock. For thee rest, several had just a flashlight to see the inside of the car and many wore gloves, probably as not to leave prints. I saw no pliers, bolt cutters, torches, etc.  with the regular burglars.  The only exceptions were only on a couple of work vehicles and I think they  had cased them prior to the burglary.

Most checked door: Driver’s door.

Let me repeat this again: Burglars do not care or don’t even bother to look for surveillance cameras.  They don’t mind the automatic flood lights either.

That’s it. I am already working on another post about what I learned here. It will go up tomorrow and I will have my ideas on what we should do to reduce firearms stolen from vehicles and I hope you share yours in that post too.

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By Miguel.GFZ

Semi-retired like Vito Corleone before the heart attack. Consiglieri to J.Kb and AWA. I lived in a Gun Control Paradise: It sucked and got people killed. I do believe that Freedom scares the political elites.

13 thoughts on “Car Burglaries Stats. My own, not very pro study.”
  1. In the past couple of years in the Jacksonville metropolitan area there were a surprising number of car burglaries involving LEO cars, both marked and unmarked, where guns were stolen. You would think that police agencies could provide their cars with lock boxes if guns are to be left inside.

  2. “82%… were the fault of the owner. They were preventable”.
    Agree with the second part, disagree with the first. Crimes are the fault of the criminal. The fact they were preventable does not change the guilt of the criminal. It only means there is additional blame on the victim for stupidity. And it would justify the insurance company not covering the loss. (I wonder if they do so — that would be an educational practice. But since it is, it’s probably forbidden by state law.)

    1. “82% of the break ins were because the owner was too dumb to figure out how to press a button in the key fob and secure the effing vehicle.”

      1. 100% of the break ins were because a criminal decided to take something that wasn’t his. 82% of them could have been prevented, had the owner simply locked his vehicle.

        No matter what, the main cause of the crime was the criminal. Just like with shootings. I will point out, however, that locking the doors to my vehicle meant that mine was the only one on my block that was not burglarized last June when a thief went door to door, burglarizing cars. The only window he broke was the one to a cop car.

        Some other points:
        1 The flashlight is used by some to shine at security cameras while being held next to the face. This “washes out” the camera and prevents the criminal’s face from being clearly seen. That was done to my cameras in June, but he forgot to do it when he was in the car, and my system got a good facial picture. He is awaiting trial. I now have more than one camera pointed at my driveway in order to make that harder to do.

        2 I am looking to get a car alarm that has a set of dry contacts, so it can activate an alarm inside the house, in order to wake me up.

  3. So I work as a court officer and jailer at a suburban PD sharing a border with Detroit. Your anecdotal evidence comports to my anectdoal evidence.

    Without question the most common car burglary method is unlocked doors. People are embarassed to admit it, but they are surprisingly honest when they tell us their door was unlocked.

    Often, the suspects will just go walking down the street, checking every single car. It’s a game of odds. If they spend two hours checking 100 cars and just 5% are unlocked, its easily worth their time.

    In my area the typical suspects for this are young black males (late teens to mid twenties) in groups of one or two (burglaries of residences are usually with one or two more.) That demo is followed very closely by white males of the same age group, then older (30s-40s) white males, then older black males.

    The younger suspects are usually opportunistic and this is a very, very entry level crime. Many of these kids will probably not continue to commit serious felonies as adults, but a good percentage will continue to more involvment in crime. The older suspects tend to be addicts looking for cash or some quickly fungible item to buy drugs.

    Personal confession: When I was 16-17 years old I was hanging out with some older, shadier guys. We did this very thing one night. It made me pretty sick to my stomach (still does) and I regret it severely. That was the last time I associated closely with that crowd, although we went to church together (!) For decades after.
    Incidentally, one of those older guys was convicted of a felony for some kind of mortgage fraud a few years ago.

  4. I am astounded. I learned about locking the car with my Mother’s milk. This was in the 1950’s.
    I remember in the 1960’s there was a PSA on TV, that basically told the audience not to be stupid. The tag line was, “Don’t help a good boy go bad. Lock the door, take the keys!”
    Sheesh. I lock the door so automatically that I don’t even think about it. Dashing into the 7-11? I still lock the doors.

  5. I’ve been horrified several mornings when I went to my truck and found it unlocked. I know I locked it the night before, yet it was unlocked in the morning. Turns out the key fob is a bad design, the lock and unlock buttons are slightly raised. So if I happen to lean against the kitchen counter or garage work bench with the key fob in my pocket, the pressure will activate a button. 50/50 chance of accidentally unlocking the vehicle from inside my house, completely unaware. Now when I get home I make sure to lock it, leave the keys in my hand and double check the lock before hanging the fob on the key rack.

    I miss the old days with plain keys and manual locks.

  6. Miguel,
    Thanks for doing this study. It was really an eye-opener for me and I will tell my friends about the “unlocked car” problem.
    thanks again,

  7. Miguel,

    Not sure what makes a post a poor performer, but I feel this is a very important topic and I was following your discussion with interest. I don’t think it is victim blaming to compile statistics, even if they do show that the bulk of the victims set themselves up. I was taught to lock my car from when I first learned to drive and can’t imagine leaving the car unlocked and running any time I’m not working on it. To leave an unsecured gun in an unlocked/unattended car is something I don’t have words for (well, I do, but I’ll keep them to myself).

    Now, if we could figure out a way to prohibit “gun free zones” so I don’t have to disarm and leave my gun behind….

    Thanks for thought provoking posts.

  8. […] We have seen that most of the car burglaries are people who spent all of 39 seconds inside the vehicle and grabbing at whatever they could that was not nailed down. And that is after they found the car door unlocked which is half the battle. Tweakers are got going to spend time and money on buying picks and assorted locksmithing tool to rip off the change in the center console of an unlocked car. They want an easy acquisition with little trouble and if they find something valuable, the better. […]

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