Breaking and Entering: Funny in Theory
I have a friend who would best be described as borderline paranoid. No, he doesn’t wear a tin foil hat to fend off alien attacks, but he is very afraid of having his house broken into. See, a few years ago, he saw the movie Hostel, and suffice it to say, he did not enjoy the experience.
Later that night, a friend of his played a joke by “breaking into” his house with an axe in one hand, a drill in the other, a clown mask on his face. My friend was downright terrified. Ever since, he has made it a nightly routine to check that all the doors in his house are locked before he goes to bed.
Obviously, that seems like a slight overreaction, but what are the odds that his house really will get broken into in the middle of the night? Well, it turns out that about 1 in 7.04 robbery attempts occur between midnight and 6:00 am, and 1 in 20 robbery attempts occur while the victim is sleeping.
Overall, only 1 in 5.49 robbery attempts are committed inside the victim’s house—a surprisingly small number. Almost half (1 in 2.29) of all robberies actually happen on the street, meaning that my friend should probably be much more nervous walking home late at night than he should going to sleep in his own house.
That is doubly true considering that he lives in a nice suburb of Boston—actually, the fourth-safest city in the country. Only 1 in 9.28 reported robberies occur in cities with a population of 50,000-99,999, even though 1 in 7.5 Americans live in a city of that size. My friend’s odds, of course, are even better than that—in the year 2008 there were only 19 robberies in his home town, each one accounting for just 1 in 4,378 of the city’s residents.
And even if against all odds someone did break in and burglarize my friend’s house, there would still be the chance he’d get some or all of his stuff back: For every 3.47 dollars of property that are stolen, one dollar is recovered and returned to the victim.