Joseph Kuhns of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte led a team of researchers who questioned convicted offenders in North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio.
"This study broadens our understanding of burglars, their motivations and their techniques," Kuhns said in a statement. "By asking the burglars what motivates and what deters them, we believe this research can help people better understand how to protect themselves against these crimes and help law enforcement more effectively respond."
The study found:
-- When selecting a target, most burglars said they considered the close proximity of others: people, traffic, people in the house or business and police officers; the lack of escape routes; and signs of increased security such as alarm signs, alarms, dogs inside and outdoor cameras.
-- 83 percent said they would try to determine if an alarm was present before attempting a burglary and 60 percent would seek an alternative if there was an alarm on-site.
-- If an alarm went off during a burglary, half reported they would flee, 31 percent would sometimes retreat and 13 percent said they would always continue despite an alarm.
-- Most burglars reported entering open windows or doors or forcing windows or doors open. About 1-in-8 reported picking locks or using a key that they had previously acquired to gain entry.
-- 70 percent of women burglars said they were motivated to steal due to drug use, while men cited money as their main motivation. Only one burglar indicated interest in stealing firearms.
The study was funded by the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation, under the auspices of the Electronic Security Association, a trade association for the electronic life safety and security industry.