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Report: Burglary in Alaska down 65 percent since 1985

Jerzy Shedlock
This Anchorage Hillside home was ransacked by a burglar in September 2006, with jewelry and other items stolen from the master bedroom. A report from UAA's Justice Center has found that the state’s burglary rate dropped by more than half between 1985 and 2012.

Statistics released Wednesday by the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage show the state’s rate of reported burglaries dropped by more than half between 1985 and 2012.

Major findings in the report -- which looked at residential and nonresidential burglaries -- include:

• Alaska’s overall burglary rate decreased 65 percent from 1985 to 2012. In 1985, about 1,170 thieves entered homes and stole property per 100,000 residents. Nearly three decades later, about 404 burglaries occurred per 100,000 people.
• Alaska’s residential burglary rate decreased 73 percent over the same time.
• The rate of nonresidential burglary decreased 82.4 percent.

The data comes from Uniform Crime Statistics collected by the Alaska Department of Public Safety.

Analysis center researcher Khristy Parker said the burglary rate is offset due to the state’s growing population. The total number of reported burglaries fell 53.1 percent while the population grew 35.9 percent over the same period, she said. The rate decline is larger thanks to the larger population.

The national burglary rate is higher than Alaska’s at 670.2 per 100,000 people, but the latest data suggests it’s declining as well.

Parker contends there are numerous factors -- loss prevention efforts, home security systems, police methods and changing social norms, among others -- contributing to the decrease in burglary rates, but identifying the cause of the reduction was outside the scope of the report.

She said she hopes that shining light on this data and other criminal justice topics will foster discussion, further research and “possibly even result in policy responses.”

Parker adjusted the value of stolen property to 2012 dollars and found the property losses during all burglaries reported to law enforcement for the period examined totaled $219,916,308. Residential burglaries represents more than two-thirds of the stolen property, the report says.

However, Parker notes that only a third of all burglaries are reported to police, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey. “Therefore, data presented in this fact sheet should not be considered indicative of the true rate of burglary in Alaska,” she wrote.

Residential burglary trends revealed that nighttime burglaries in Alaska have decreased over the period while daytime and “unknown time” burglaries increased steadily, the report says.

On average, burglars take it easy during Alaska’s coldest month, as February sees the lowest rate of the crime. Burglaries are most frequent during August, the report says.