Burglaries Are Down, So Why Are People Buying More Safes?

Over the last 20 years, the burglary rate in the U.S. has dropped by around 45%, according to the FBI. And yet, manufacturers of safes and other devices to protect folks’ valuables have gone up as much as 40% in just the last few years.

“People dislike loss twice as much as they like gains,” explains the founder and CEO of Upside Risk, a firm that researches investor psychology, to SmartMoney. “They want to protect what they have.”

So it’s no surprise that the rise of safe sales coincides with a growing distrust in the banking industry. More than 1 in 3 people expressed little to no confidence in banks last year; that’s more than had that sentiment when the economy bottomed out in 2008 and 2009.

And while burglaries may have dropped, consumers’ concerns about having their bank and credit card accounts hacked has only increased.

“By acquiring one password, someone can wipe out all your digital wealth,” says one investment manager.

But before you go rushing off to buy a safe, SmartMoney points out some issues to be aware of:

[C]ustom or other small-production safes often reach the market without undergoing the rigorous testing for theft and fire common to off-the-shelf models. At the same time, ratings pose other problems. Retailers say they confuse many buyers, who fail to understand that just because a safe is rated for fire, it doesn’t mean it’s theft-proof, and vice versa.

More Americans Stashing Cash in Home Safes [SmartMoney.com]

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  1. homehome says:

    My thought process and don’t wait til there’s a problem to try to correct it, especially if you see it coming. Put in safeguards before there is a problem.

  2. scoutermac says:

    My thought is the reason there has been a 45% drop in burglaries is due to the 40% increase in safe’s and alarms.

    • Rhinoguy says:

      Having a safe does not stop a burglar, he doesn’t know you have a safe. He will just take stuff that isn’t locked up.
      As for alarms I have been a handyman for enough years that folks would let me go in their house while they were at work and fix stuff. I would leave the bill taped to the toilet seat. I once set off an alarm (silent) and didn’t know it until I was leaving four hours later. As I was leaving the house the cops drove by and asked if I knew the alarm had tripped. I said no, went back in the house, called the owner and asked for the code to turn it off. She canceled her alarm service.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      I attribute it to fear mongering from the “we need something to talk about now!” media.

      I live in a 5 year old neighborhood in a relatively well off, safe area. I’d say at least half the houses have security systems. There is absolutely no evidence that would support a “need” for a security system around here.

      I have a safe, but it is mostly for some protection of documents in the case of a fire.

  3. crispyduck13 says:

    Why? Oh, I don’t know

  4. Zero says:

    This also leaves out one detail. Gun sales since Obama has taken office have gone up. It can also be because of gun safes having a rise too.

    • Marlin says:

      yep nutters just being nutters. :)

      • Firethorn says:

        If they’re buying a gun safe to go along with their guns, it tends to take them out of the ‘nutter’ category, I think. It’s a serious investment in gun safety – from damage, theft, or even misuse. Not absolute of course.

    • spamtasticus says:

      I just bought a large gun safe because my daughter started crawling. I guess I’m a nut now.

  5. Straspey says:

    Actually, I disagree with the premise that burglaries have been declining – at least in the short term, and certainly here in the New York City-Metro Area.

    In recent weeks the news has been reporting on a slew of break-ins and home invasions – often while the occupants are still at home. In fact, just last week, in New Jersey, there was a series of well-timed home invasions by a local gang, within hours of each other and all on the same night.

    Police in NY City just apprehended a guy who was doing push-in robberies in Northern Manhattan. He’d smear Vaseline over the peep-holes on the doors of nearby apartments to obscure the view and then wait until somebody came home and pretend to be a repair man – and push his way in and rob them.

    In Westchester County, a guy was riding the Metro North commuter railroad to the nearby suburbs – would follow people walking to their homes or cars – and rob them. They just caught this guy too.

    Statistics are wonderful – but they can often be misleading — And in these very troubled and difficult times, there are more people around who are on the edge of desperation and will resort to desperate acts to survive.

    • scoutermac says:

      Breaks-ins in Indianapolis have been common coinsurance as well. Seems they mostly happen either in bad neighborhoods or in suburbs where people tend to leave their cars unlocked.

    • sirwired says:

      A slew of anecdotal news reports tells you nothing about any overall trend in burglaries; it just tells you that they were among the most interesting stories to report on any given day.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      “Statistics are wonderful – but they can often be misleading”

      Huh? So you’re saying “ignore all those comprehensive statistics, they’re misleading, what you should really be looking at is anecdotes on TV!”

      Seriously?

      • Straspey says:

        My point is…

        Saying that “Burglaries Are Down, So Why Are People Buying More Safes?”

        Would be the same as saying…

        “Obesity is Down, So Why Are People Dieting More?”

        or…

        “Car-Accident Fatalities Are Down, So Why Are People Driving More?”

        Why would the rate of home safe purchases have any direct correlation to the rate of crime ?

        • Straspey says:

          Or, even better -

          “Car-Accident Fatalities Are Down, So Why Are People Buying More Cars?”

    • sirwired says:

      Keep in mind that unless you securely bolt it to the floor or wall, a home safe you can move without a hand-truck is completely worthless.

      We have one of those fire-boxes at home, and I just leave the key in the lock… any burglar worth the name could pick those in about two seconds.

    • kathygnome says:

      “In recent weeks the news has been reporting”

      What the news reports doesn’t reflect reality, there’s been a couple of studies that have tracked this, but as crime has dropped, reports of crime on the local news have increased.

      • pythonspam says:

        Yes, because the local news has no incentive to sensationalize individual reports of crimes…
        /s

    • who? says:

      The news reports things that are unusual. If you see something on the news, it’s cuz it doesn’t happen very often. If they *stop* reporting home invasions, then you need to worry.

  6. Blueskylaw says:

    “Burglaries Are Down, So Why Are People Buying More Safes?”

    So that they can keep their collectible coins from The World Reserve in them.

    http://ctwatchdog.com/finance/free-armored-safe-from-world-reserve-review-how-to-get-fleeced

  7. Costner says:

    I know a lot of pro-NRA types fear their guns will be taken away, so they are buying a lot more guns these days. With more guns, comes more gun safes and regular safes that people use to store guns and ammunition.

    I myself own several firearms, and as a result I have one wall safe (pistols) one portable safe that I’ve had for years when I was moving around often, and a gun safe for my rifles / shotgun. It isn’t that I fear anything being stolen because none of my guns are all that valuable (and they are all insured), but what I do want to prevent is someone gaining access to them that should’t be such as children or even some immature adults.

    • Cerne says:

      I read wall safe as “an entire wall that is a gun safe” and got kind of envious for a second.

      • Costner says:

        How awesome would that be? Sadly… mine is only large enough for two handguns, a portable hard drive, a few documents (passport, SS card etc) and some keys.

        I do love the idea of a hidden safe room though. That would be so flippin’ sweet.

  8. matlock expressway says:

    My theory: since burglaries are down, people now have more money (due to not being burgled) with which to buy safes.

    Q.E.D.

  9. flipflopju says:

    There’s always wanting to protect documents and other items from fires and disaster. I live in tornado alley so I keep a safe on the lowest level of my house with all my important documents in it, right next to water and food in the storm shelter area. A lot of people were in or knew someone in tornadoes last year so some of us in the Midwest worked on being better prepared for all disasters. I bet the 2012 crowd did too.

    I already had 2 safes when my home was broken into and those items were kept safe so now I’m the weirdo who gives safes as wedding gifts to couples I know that don’t have them. Everyone could use a safe and most people seem grateful to not have to research it and buy it themselves. There’s a lot of documents to merge post-marriage.

    • chatterboxwriting says:

      I’m getting married at the end of the month, and I would LOVE it if someone got us a safe. I have one on my Amazon wishlist and it’s about $300, so I’d love to not have to spend the money. I don’t have many valuables, but I’d like something to keep our important documents in.

    • wackydan says:

      THis…I am building in a safe to our new cabinets… for documents… and I will be mounting a cheap one in the shed for data copies… people are understanding how difficult it is to regain things like lost or stolen identification these days with places like the DMV also on alert for ID theft… So you better have copies and originals in a safe place in case of fire or theft.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      You know, I live there too and I never thought about that. I’m not that far from Joplin. An EF5 tornado could certainly eat my house and throw my little tiny fire safe a hundred miles away.

      It might be a good idea to paint my cell phone number on the outside of the safe, just in case. It’s pebbled so would be hard to scrape off if it were stolen, which would also make it identifiable if someone swiped it.

  10. VintageLydia says:

    We’re looking into one for fire/natural disaster protection.

  11. keith4298 says:

    I bought three this year – bedroom, basement (long guns) and car. But that’s just being safe – letting your toddler store your firearm under her crib is frowned upon in my State.

  12. StopGougingMeThere! says:

    Curious if there was a corresponding reduction in bank safety deposit box rentals.

  13. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    I buy them to drop on bad guys. Or good guys. Ya know, whoever’s walking by my place at the time.

  14. HomerSimpson says:

    Maybe people have a cartoon coyote hanging around they want to rid themselves of?

  15. fraterormus says:

    I suspect a large part of the increase in Safes has to do with the Baby Boomer generation becoming Senior Citizens. As the largest demographic segment of the US Population reaches that age of retirement and fixed income living, they are naturally going to be the likeliest candidates seeking to protect what valuables they have.

    Sure, fear-mongering in the media (i.e., Murdoch’s Fox Hysteria) perhaps may play a part (especially since selling fear to Senior Citizens is just as easy as selling sex to Teenagers), but I doubt it has any significant impact compared to the simple fact that our largest demographic has become card-carrying members of the AARP and are now on the Social Security/Medicare Payroll.

    • Sajanas says:

      Not to mention, once you retire, you suddenly start needing to have documentation of your financial holdings so that if you die, the executor of your will can know where everything is. My parents have several lock boxes specifically for all this sort of important information.

      Course, the problem is, I have no idea where the keys are to any of them.

  16. alceste says:

    I bought a safe to keep things away from my kids. Yeah, I throw the passports, birth certificates, and couple of misc other items, but the rest of the box is full of things like lighters and knives. In my parents day they would have used a locked cabinet, but those aren’t a common piece of furniture nowadays.

  17. WhoLikesPie? says:

    I bought a fireproof safe so I could keep important documents that I’d like to have / need to have in case of fire. Basically my passport, a few financial docs, etc.. I could care less if my shit gets stolen… it’s just stuff but I don’t really want an accident (fire) to cause me more headaches than they do on their own.

    • kathygnome says:

      That’s actually what I thought of. In fact, it didn’t even occur to me that a home safe would be to protect valuables from theft rather than documents from fire.

      • Firethorn says:

        It’s more that the requirements are different.

        A fire container will generally have insulation and gypsum, plus a fireproof outer coating. One thing to realize is that a fireproof container is built differently depending on what it’s intended to protect. A safe intended for papers will generally get *very* humid during a fire, which can cause rust on something like firearms. They also let the temperature get quite high – thermal paper receipts will turn completely black. In addition, the papers will generally remain legible, but not in ‘optimum’ condition. They may take on a scortched appearance, or like they got wet. If you think about it a bit, this should tell you that a fire safe might not protect optical or magnetic media. While better than nothing, I wouldn’t expect a standard firesafe to protect a hard drive, magnetic tape, or optical media for it’s rated periods. I have a fire rated filing box that’s not intended to protect against forcible entry – the latch broke within the first month.

        A safe intended to protect against theft is going to have a much better lock on it, generally have a metallic outer shell, be designed to resist against prying and/or drilling, and have options to bolt it to the floor to prevent the thief from simply carting it away to open elsewhere. But it might also be just a plain metal box with no real fire resistance.

        Above certain price points, most safes are ‘dual purpose’, having both fire and forced entry ratings. Just be aware that a safe is a piece of equipment, and with any equipment, proper installation and use is essential to maintaining the rating. That means that a safe intended to prevent theft really needs to be bolted to the floor. A fire safe should be positioned to try to stay out of the hottest parts of a fire.

        Generally personal papers/records not useful for identity theft are more at risk from fire/disaster than they are from theft, but unfortuantly thieves can be dumb and there’s plenty of stupid people out there who buy fire-boxes and treat them like safes, storing things like jewelry in them, which means that while you might not store fungible goods in there, they remain a point of theft just the same.

      • Firethorn says:

        It’s more that the requirements are different.

        A fire container will generally have insulation and gypsum, plus a fireproof outer coating. One thing to realize is that a fireproof container is built differently depending on what it’s intended to protect. A safe intended for papers will generally get *very* humid during a fire, which can cause rust on something like firearms. They also let the temperature get quite high – thermal paper receipts will turn completely black. In addition, the papers will generally remain legible, but not in ‘optimum’ condition. They may take on a scortched appearance, or like they got wet. If you think about it a bit, this should tell you that a fire safe might not protect optical or magnetic media. While better than nothing, I wouldn’t expect a standard firesafe to protect a hard drive, magnetic tape, or optical media for it’s rated periods. I have a fire rated filing box that’s not intended to protect against forcible entry – the latch broke within the first month.

        A safe intended to protect against theft is going to have a much better lock on it, generally have a metallic outer shell, be designed to resist against prying and/or drilling, and have options to bolt it to the floor to prevent the thief from simply carting it away to open elsewhere. But it might also be just a plain metal box with no real fire resistance.

        Above certain price points, most safes are ‘dual purpose’, having both fire and forced entry ratings. Just be aware that a safe is a piece of equipment, and with any equipment, proper installation and use is essential to maintaining the rating. That means that a safe intended to prevent theft really needs to be bolted to the floor. A fire safe should be positioned to try to stay out of the hottest parts of a fire.

        Generally personal papers/records not useful for identity theft are more at risk from fire/disaster than they are from theft, but unfortuantly thieves can be dumb and there’s plenty of stupid people out there who buy fire-boxes and treat them like safes, storing things like jewelry in them, which means that while you might not store fungible goods in there, they remain a point of theft just the same.

    • RandomLetters says:

      Wouldn’t the loss of these documents through theft be the same loss as if they were destroyed in a fire? They are still gone and probably beyond recovery.

  18. marc6065 says:

    People are buying safes to hide anything they have of value from the govt. After the election if Obama wins he will pull a FDR and confiscate any precious metals and cash the govt can put their hands on. They have the power to block you from safe deposit boxes at banks and will go through every one and pull all the gold. silver and cash anyone has stashed in them. He will then go afer guns but that will be the worst thing he will ever try, you don;t take a bone from a dog and you don’t take a gun from a free citizen who will protect his second amendment rights with that second amendment!!!!

    • Kitamura says:

      who stores guns in their safety deposit box /s

    • kathygnome says:

      When he is reelected and doesn’t do that, what will you do? Will you apologize to society at large for being a paranoid idiot or will you just double down the next time a democrat gets elected?

    • MCerberus says:

      The sad part is that I’ve heard this without intentional hyperbole.

    • BorkBorkBork says:

      Good thing the world is ending soon, right?

  19. jayphat says:

    Umm, I think it has more to do in my area, a not at all urban area with a population of around 40K including the county, with what I’ve read in the last 4 days. Three armed robberies, one including stabbing a 73 yr old man in the arm. It’s not my distrust of banks, its my distrust of my area prosecutor putting me in jail for defending my home.

    /thank you Castle Doctrine.

  20. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    On a national level, burglaries may be down but in many areas, property crimes continue to go up year after year.

    • who? says:

      ^Citation?

      Everything I’ve read says that crime has been dropping in all regions of the country for the past 20 years.

  21. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Have you done any comedy dropping duffel bags lately? Totally unfunny. Safes are a requirement.

  22. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    Maybe both the drop in burglaries and the rise in the number of safe purchases can be attributed to people buying more firearms (including the fact that in the recent past about 30 states have come online with concealed carry making the total number 40).

    People buy guns. Burglaries go down because people can defend themselves and their property. At the same time those gun owners need safes for their guns because as responsible gun owners they have a need to keep them away from their kids.

  23. Lucky225 says:

    Safes guard against other things too besides theft, like you know, fires, natural disasters, etc.

  24. dolemite says:

    I’ve got no confidence in banking and investing. Thing is…that’s the only place to grow your wealth for retirement these days.

  25. Alan_Schezar says:

    My theory: Using safes is cheaper than paying the bank $10/month because their account is less than $2000.

  26. The_Fuzz_53 says:

    Maybe burglaries are down because more people own safes.

  27. damageddude says:

    We have a fireproof safe to keep our important documents in, such as copies of our wills, passports, insurance papers,birth certificates and the like. I also keep an old external drive in their (doubt it would survive a fire). It’s small enough that if there were an instance where we had to evacuate quickly, we could grab it and go. It is strong enough (hopefully) that it could survive a disaster if we weren’t home.

    We even keep the safe unlocked just in case we are ever burglarized so a thief could see there was nothing worth stealing in there. The jewelery and other things are elsewhere.

  28. webweazel says:

    Those fire safes are great for document protection from fire. For protection of theft or contents? Not so much. Easily carried away and easily opened in a few seconds. They’re meant for FIRE protection of the contents only, and the lock is only meant to keep out the honest people.

    We’ve got the best of both worlds. A fire safe of important documents stored inside a large gun-type safe that is bolted to the concrete slab and the wall studs. Yup, we’re good.