Burglaries in rural France: areas most at risk and tips to avoid

Break-ins increased by 3% nationally in 2023 - but the rate is up to 20% higher in certain countryside areas

Burglars can take their time to find empty homes in rural areas
Published Last updated

The burglary rate increased by 3% nationally in France in 2023 - but some areas were disproportionately affected, including many rural areas. We look where the highest rises were and what you can do to avoid falling victim.

Urban areas, such as Paris and Marseille still suffer more break-ins than most other areas, however a government report from January 31, 2024 on crime in 2023 shows that the rate is declining in these cities.

Read more: New national burglary figures: How does your area of France fare?

Rural homeowners warned against complacency

However, in the department with the third highest rate (after Paris and Bouches-du-Rhône), Gironde, the number of burglaries continues to rise.

The department suffered 7,968 burglaries in 2023 alone, up from 7,645 in 2022.

Other rural departments than have seen steep rises include (burglaries per 1,000 homes):

  • Cher: 7.6 (up to 20% more than in 2022)
  • Sarthe: 7.6 (between 10% and 20% more)
  • Lot-et-Garonne: 7.6 (between 10% and 20% more)
  • Loire: 7.6 (between 10% and 20% more)
  • Hérault: 5.75 (between 10% and 20% more)
  • Gard: 5.75 (between 10% and 20% more)
  • Ille-et-Vilaine: 5.75 (between 10% and 20% more)
  • Calvados: 4.25 (up to 20% more)
  • Dordogne: 4.25 (no data)
Pic: Interior Ministry / The Connexion

While the majority of the infractions in Gironde occurred in the city of Bordeaux, the department’s Police nationale warned people with homes in the countryside against complacency.

“The advantage in towns is that the alert is raised more quickly by neighbours,” said the Direction départementale de la sécurité publique (DDSP), which advises the Gironde Police nationale.

“Despite the problems in towns there is continuous surveillance and the possibility of rapid police intervention.

“However, with an isolated home, ill-intentioned people can visit several times, see when the shutters are closed, and learn when there is nobody there.”

Burglaries increase throughout Normandy

The burglary rate saw a steady rise in 2023 throughout all departments in the Centre-Val-de-Loire and Normandy regions.

In Saint-Martin-du-Vivier, near Rouen (Seine-Maritime), public officials and gendarmes met with the public for a debate on the issue on February 9.

“There is very little local crime in our area, it’s usually people passing through,” said Major Franck Prouet from the gendarmerie.

“Burglaries can happen at any time, but this winter in Saint-Martin they mostly happen in the late afternoon.

“So take all precautions: plug in your alarms, shut your gates and shutters, fit automatic lights and don’t leave things like ladders lying about outside!”

The town’s mayor supported updating Saint-Martin’s video surveillance cameras, but as in many rural areas, the commune has limited resources. Indeed, as is the case elsewhere, the town’s streetlights go dark before 23:00, heightening locals’ anxiety.

Read more: How communities in rural France are using CCTV to tackle rising crime

What can you do to stop your home being targeted?

In rural areas, burglars are “better prepared than the opportunistic ones that operate in towns,” states the government crime watchdog, l’Observatoire national de la délinquance et des réponses pénales (ONDRP).

This means that in many cases burglars will investigate homes before visiting - and not only by physically scoping out a home.

Read more: Home invasions: French police advise how to stay safe

The Gironde gendarmerie also suggested that technology was helping the burglars to identify targets in areas unfamiliar to them.

“Google Maps has made it so easy for burglars to get information about homes and look for signs of wealthy inhabitants”, deputy commander César Lizurey of the Gironde gendarmerie told France 3.

Once burglars have identified their target, they can scope-out the homeowners on social media to see when they are going on holiday and for how long, which is one more reason not to post holiday plans or photos online.

You can prevent burglars from using Google Maps to visit your home by requesting for it to be blurred out.

To do this:

  • Go to Google Maps.
  • Enter your home address.
  • Go to Street View by dragging the yellow person icon onto your street.
  • Click on the three-dot menu by the address and select Report a problem.
  • A new screen will pop up with an image of the address. Move around the image so the red box contains the area you wish to blur.
  • Choose My Home from the Request Blurring list.
  • Describe your home in the box provided. The colour and a simple description should suffice.
  • Enter your email address.
  • Click Submit.
  • Tell the police when you are going away

    If you are going to leave your home or second-home empty for a period of up to three months, whether it be for holidays, travel or work, the Police nationale and Gendarmerie have a service called ‘Operation tranquilité vacances’ that can help keep it safe.

    The service is free, and means that police and gendarmerie patrols will check your home from time to time when you are away.

    You can apply for it here up to three days before the date you leave.

    Read more

    Where are homes most at risk of burglary in France?

    Big rise in car thefts in France: these are the models most stolen