Do Burglars Target Apartments?

Burglaries are on the decrease around the country over the last 30 years, and while virtually no place can be considered not a target for being burglarized, some types of residences are more susceptible than others to being broken into. 

Burglars tend to target single-family homes with multiple access points in an area that they are familiar with, as opposed to apartment complexes that have multiple close neighbors, single access points, and barriers to entry.

Which Is Safer A House Or Apartment?

If you just look at the sheer numbers, an apartment complex, especially one with more than 10 units is going to statistically be safer than a single-family residence. 

The FBI has statistics for burglaries in the United States.  A full 74% of all burglaries happened to residential properties.  There are some very good reasons for that, which we will go over below.  These reasons all give apartment buildings a better edge in NOT being burglarized.   

The Bureau of Justice Statistics also shows that apartment complexes with 10 or more units are also far less likely to be burglarized than 2-9 unit homes and rentals.   

If you are RENTING your house, your statistics actually go up as far as being susceptible to being burglarized.  This is due partly to the location that many rental houses are located in, not necessarily due to the renter’s themselves.  

Renters that are in large complexes with many neighbors are not only statistically LESS likely of being robbed, they also state that they FEEL safer with more people around them as well. 

What Burglars Are Looking For

Burglaries are non-violent crimes.  If violence or confrontations do happen, it becomes a robbery or something else entirely.   Thus, burglars are looking for a quick, clean, get in-get out type of situation. So much so that there are studies that indicate that many burglars actually ring the doorbell of the house that they are about to break into just to be sure that no one is home.  

The people are looking for what is easy for the taking, not some Mission: Impossible-type scenario.  They want to get in as easily as possible, get what they can grab and carry, and get out again as quickly as possible.  

For most burglars, this means that they want a place that they are familiar with, they have relatively easy access to, and that the potential bounty is worth risking breaking and entering.   

Houses in residential neighborhoods tend to provide all of these things.  A house is going to have multiple access points. Door and windows can be left unlocked, which is how the vast majority of burglars gain access.  Even if they break a door down or bust a window, if it is in a neighborhood, people are going to be many yards away and will attribute that noise to something else entirely.  

Apartment complexes have some strategic advantages when it comes to these things. 

Many apartment buildings have one single access point on the ground floor, which a tenant is the only one that has a key, or at least has to buzz in their guest to even gain entry to the building.   

Also, the rooms in an apartment building are located very close to one another.  This means if someone breaks a window or door, chances are that someone close by is going to hear and come out to see what is going on.  This is a big deterrent to someone wanting to commit a crime.  

The FBI statistics also show the apartment complexes that had a doorman, or some type of security system was even LESS likely to be burglarized as well.  

Common sense would dictate that because there is a higher concentration of people in an apartment complex, there would necessarily be more burglaries there as well.  But the statistics say differently.  

As far as non-violent burglaries go, the criminal is most often looking for a quiet, easy target where nobody is going to see them.  This is almost impossible to do at an apartment complex. Neighbors know who is coming and going, and this is one of the ironic fringe benefits of having nosy neighbors.  They are actually a deterrent against your apartment being robbed!  

Additionally, people in single-family homes tend to have more valuables lying around than apartment dwellers.  This makes the cost analysis better for burglaries to happen in a residential neighborhood rather than an apartment complex.  

Now, there absolutely are small areas where apartment complexes have a higher rate of burglary than single-family homes.  But these areas are not the rule across the board.  

Your possessions are actually safer in an apartment, surrounded by all of your neighbors and other tenants than they are sitting alone in your single-family house. 

What To Do If Your Apartment Gets Broken Into

I have dealt directly with tenants who have been burglarized, or at least to have claimed to have been burglarized.  I can never know for sure because I never saw them have the possessions in hand they claim were stolen, and there was never any evidence of a breaking and entering like a busted door lock or anything like that.  

In fact, the only incidents that I have personally handled was due to people leaving both their house and their car unlocked, and even then, they didn’t report anything until a couple weeks later, after the 3rd time they claimed something happened.  

In all of these cases, the tenant came to us, the landlord and manager, and wanted us to “increase security” or “replace the cost of their possessions”.  Did I mention that they left their apartment and car unlocked? 

Additionally, they refused to call the police for ANY of the instances, and only wanted money from the apartment complex itself, or used the incident to complain about another tenant or a group of tenants.  So, it’s hard to access exactly how much validity these claims I dealt with actually had. Considering none of them followed up with the police or filed any reports, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume “Not Much”.  

If your apartment DOES, in fact, get burglarized, this is what you should do: 


The police are the only ones that are going to be able to actually do anything unless you are going to go full vigilante.  This is the single most important thing you can do. You can report it to your landlord, which you should absolutely do in any case, but your landlord isn’t sheriff or The Equalizer or anything like that.  They are just a business owner, and they are going to tell you to do the same thing I am going to tell you…..Call The Police.   

2. Take Pictures 

Make sure you detail the scene of the crime right when you figure out that it happened.  Take pictures like you would if you were making an insurance claim because you might have to do this as well.  Depending on the circumstance, take a video as well to help document exactly what was taken and if any damage to the apartment was done.

3. Contact Your Landlord

You should absolutely tell your landlord or manager about the burglary, but this should be AFTER you have called the police and had them come to file a report.  Your landlord will give you the same advice as I am giving you right here. You can figure out anything else you are concerned about within your apartment with them later.  Simply let them know that an incident has happened, you have contacted the police, and you will communicate with them later on what you want to do. 

4. Give The Police Report

Once the police come, make sure to give them all the information you have, including any pictures or videos that you have taken.  Any information you have can be valuable in catching whoever did this, whether it was a random incident or targeted. 

5. Talk To Your Neighbors

Remember your nosy neighbors?  The ones that are annoyingly in your business and talking to the landlord all the time?  Yep, those ones. Now, these annoyances have become one of your biggest allies. Knock on all the doors you need to and ask yourself whether they saw or heard anyone coming or going, or if they saw any unusual cars parked outside.  If you have ever talked to one of these neighbors before, you will be absolutely AMAZED at the amount of stuff they notice on a daily basis, and what is abnormal or not. If they saw something, they will tell you. 

6. Talk To Your Landlord About Your Lease And Safety In The Complex

Some people just advise that you force your landlord to get out of your lease if this happens.  And if your landlord is running a complex that is truly unsafe and you feel unsafe, then you should absolutely do so.  But if it was a truly random incident that you were the victim of, you may be just fine in your apartment where you are.  Obviously, only you are going to know if staying or leaving is the right decision for you. But if it comes down to it and you want to get out of your lease for safety reasons, most landlords are going to be pretty understanding of the situation. 

There are some significant advantages to safety and protection that an apartment complex can give you over a single-family residence.  You can also increase your and your property security by looking for apartment complexes that have additional security measures such as cameras and a doorman. 

Statistics show that you are much less likely to get burglarized in a large apartment complex than a single-family home. 

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John Boettcher

Co-Founder of Apartment School and a previous renter turned owner of many multi-family properties across the United States, with many years of experience in all aspects of the apartment, real estate, and investing world.

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