The state of New Jersey added nearly a half-million residents between the 2010 and 2020 Census reports, resulting in a growth rate of just under six percent. While that’s below the national average, it represents an increase in the state’s growth rate from 2010.

That’s just another sign that New Jersey remains an attractive place for many people, whether they’re out-of-state transplants or New Jersey residents looking for a change of pace. Those new to the state or who have lived there for a while may be considering New Jersey in part because of its low property crime rates.

Though violent crime gets the press attention, the average American is far more likely to be the victim of a property crime like theft or burglary than a violent crime like assault. How common are these types of crimes in New Jersey and how have rates changed over time?

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At A Glance:

    • With #1 being the best, New Jersey is ranked #5 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C.
    • You have a 1.34% chance of being a property crime victim in New Jersey in the next 12 months.
    • New Jersey’s property crime rate is 37% lower than the average crime rate in the United States.
    • Teterboro has the highest property crime rate in New Jersey (1,500 incidents per 1,000 people).

 

  • Teterboro’s exponentially high property crime rate is due largely to its tiny population. The FBI’s calculation was based on the borough having a permanent population of just 68 people compared to a total 102 property crimes. That would mean Teterboro’s residents would each have had to commit at least one property crime to achieve that rate. But the borough is also home to Teterboro Airport and many major industrial sites, and as far back as the 1990s, officials in Teterboro have sought to downplay their community’s position as a high-crime locale. “It’s unfair in how it interprets the formula. There’s only 22 people living here, but there’s 15,000 people that go through here every day,” Teterboro Police Lt. Andrew Monocky said in 1990, according to press archives. “I’m here 16 years (on the police force), and I don’t know of any resident here being arrested.”

 

Only four states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Idaho, and Maine) have lower average property crime rates than New Jersey, and the state’s rate is lower than all of its neighbors — but just barely. New York’s property crime rate is about four-tenths of a point behind New Jersey’s rate.

New Jersey’s Most Current Property Crime Rates (2019)

  • Rate of Property Crime
    • New Jersey average:: 13.4 crimes per 1,000 people
    • National average: 21.1 crimes per 1,000 people

Like most other states, New Jersey has seen property crime decline over the past decade, with only Alaska and North Dakota as outliers. Property crime declined in New Jersey by 36 percent between 2010 and 2019, which is higher than the average drop (about 27 percent).

New Jersey’s Overall Property Crime Trends (2010 – 2019)

    • Average Rate of Property Crime:
      • New Jersey 10-year average: 17.37 crimes per 1,000 people
      • National 10-year average: 25.61 crimes per 1,000 people
    • -36% Has property crime increased or decreased during this time?
      • There was a 36% decrease in property crime in New Jersey from 2010 as compared to 2019.
    • 2011 Which year had the highest rate of property crime in New Jersey?:
      • The highest rate of property crime in New Jersey was 2011 (21.5 crimes per 1,000 people)
    • 2019 Which year had the lowest rate of property crime in New Jersey?:
      • The lowest rate of property crime in New Jersey was 2019 (13.4 crimes per 1,000 people)

What incidents fall under the umbrella of property crime? Burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson are the four major property crime categories reported by the FBI. In every case, if the incident involves violence or threats of violence, it no longer is a property crime and is classified as a violent crime.

New Jersey’s Property Crime Category Trends (2010 – 2019)

      • Which type of property crime occurred the most in New Jersey over the past decade?
        • Larceny occurred more than any other property crime at a rate of 12.5 crimes per 1,000 people.
        • Average property crime rate by category
          • Average burglary rate: 3.4 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average larceny rate: 12.5 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average vehicle crime rate: 1.5 crimes per 1,000 people
          • Average arson rate: 0.1 crimes per 1,000 people
        • Note: There were no FBI estimates for arson rates, so we used all available data that was reported by individual cities in New Jersey.
      • +29% Which types of property crime have increased during this time period?
        • All four types of property crime have become less common in New Jersey over the past decade. The larceny-theft rate fell by the slowest pace, 29%.
      • -62% Which types of property crime have decreased during this time period?
        • Arson fell by 62% during that time.

 

What factors contribute to keeping New Jersey’s property crime rate low? Like other societal ills, crime is a complex problem with many moving parts. That said, some research has pointed to three factors — poverty, unemployment, and urbanization — as playing a major role in property crime.

 

Looking at the metrics for New Jersey across those three areas doesn’t bring a great deal of clarity, unfortunately. That’s because while the state has a low poverty rate, its unemployment rate is above average, and only California and the District of Columbia have higher rates of urbanization.

 

Let’s take a closer look:

 

  • Poverty: About nine percent of New Jersey residents live below the poverty line, which is the fourth-dlowest rate among all states.
  • Unemployment: New Jersey’s most recent joblessness rate was 7.5 percent, above the national rate of about six percent.
  • Urbanization: About 95 percent of the state’s residents live in urban areas, which is the third-highest rate in the country. Only D.C. and California have higher rates.

 

One reason why it’s difficult to use state-level statistics to understand crime is that it’s a hyperlocal phenomenon with the likelihood of crime varying from street to street. Indeed, New Jersey is a good example of this phenomenon because Teterboro, the city with the highest rate (1,500 incidents per 1,000 people) is only about 20 minutes away from the community with one of the lowest rates, Park Ridge, where property crime occurs at a rate of about one per 1,000 people.


Top 5: Best Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data)*:

  • Matawan, New Jersey (Monmouth County)
  • Chesterfield Township, New Jersey (Burlington County)
  • Independence Township, New Jersey (Warren County)
  • Park Ridge, New Jersey (Bergen County)
  • Harrington Park, New Jersey (Bergen County)

Bottom 5: Worst Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data):

  • Teterboro, New Jersey (Bergen County)
  • Stone Harbor, New Jersey (Cape May County)
  • Avalon, New Jersey (Cape May County)
  • Beach Haven, New Jersey (Ocean County)
  • Brooklawn, New Jersey (Camden County)

* Excludes cities with zero reported property crime