Latin America and the Caribbean Found to Be Least Secure Places in the World

burglary_1546658cEvery 14.4 seconds, criminals burglarize a home in the United States. This means that during the average TV commercial break, eight homes are burglarized. In an hour, there are 250 burglaries. In a year, there are more than 2,222,000 burglaries.

As scary as that is, U.S. residents have a lot less to worry about than Latin American and Carribbean residents, as a new Gallup World poll suggests.

The study found that citizens of Latin America and the Caribbean are the least likely in the world to feel secure in their communities, while the peoples of Southeast Asia, East Asia, and the U.S. and Canada feel the most secure. In 2013, the region scored a 56 out of 100 on Gallup’s Law and Order Index — a metric based off of citizens’ confidence in local police, feelings of personal safety, and incidence of theft.

Part of the problem is the region’s personal security situation. According to a study published by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, “the most important situational factors affecting a potential burglar’s decision to commit a crime are the surveillability of the premises and whether they are occupied.”

This means that burglars are far less likely to break into a home if it’s either occupied, or if a security system is protecting it.

While the personal security industry in the U.S. is projected to grow from $500 million in 2014 to $2.4 billion by 2018, the personal security situation in Latin America and the Caribbean hasn’t improved in over five years. So while burglars are facing newer, tougher challenges in the more secure parts of the world, they remain virtually unopposed in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Gallup suggests that there’s a correlation there. Countries with lower index scores don’t develop, while countries with higher scores do, which also improves their score. Essentially, citizen insecurity thwarts a country’s development, which prevents it from being able to overcome the challenges, effectively creating a vicious cycle.