Does Regulation of Built-In Security Reduce Crime? Evidence from a Natural Experiment
As of 1999, all new-built homes in the Netherlands have to have burglary-proof windows and doors. We provide evidence that this large-scale government intervention in the use of self-protective measures lowers crime and improves social welfare. We find the regulatory change to have reduced burglary in new-built homes from 1.1 to 0.8 percent annually, a reduction of 26 percent. The findings suggest that burglars avoid old, less-protected homes that are located in the direct vicinity of the new, better-protected homes. The presence of a negative externality on older homes is ambiguous. We find no evidence for displacement to other property crimes including theft from cars and bicycle theft. Even though the regulation of built-in security does not target preventative measures at homes that are most at risk, the social benefits of the regulation are likely to exceed the social costs.
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