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Virginia is the worst state in the U.S. for burglars, according to a new nationwide study by a security systems company.

According to statistics compiled by SimpliSafe Home Security Systems, Virginia homeowners are 46 percent less likely to be burgled than the national average.

The study compares the legislative codes of all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, and contrasts maximum and minimum burglary sentences, as well as maximum fines, as well as other factors.

According to the study, Virginia has both the highest maximum fine for burglary--$100,000--as well as the toughest maximum prison sentence--life in prison.

“We also looked into ‘stand your ground’ and ‘castle doctrine’ laws, which mandate the lengths to which homeowners can legally go to protect their property, under the logic that getting shot at is, effectively, another consequence of burglary in some places,” the study states. “In order to compare states, we developed a ranking system that weighed each data point according to where it fell within its range. We added up these weights to get a total for each state, sorted the totals, and came up with this list: the 13 states where you really, really don’t want to be convicted of burglary.”

Virginia tops that list, followed by South Carolina and Alabama in second and third place, respectively.

“Castle doctrine” laws are named after the concept that a person’s home is their castle, and can be defended from dangerous intruders with deadly force. “Stand your ground” laws are related to castle doctrine laws, but extend outside one’s home.

In Virginia, neither law is on the books, but the total number of firearms purchased by residents increased 73 percent from 2006 to 2011, according to another recent study by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. When state population increases are factored in, gun purchases per 100,000 Virginians rose 63 percent during that same period.

According to the SimpliSafe study, burglaries in Virginia have decreased more than 16 percent since the year 2000. The study states that the average burglary rate for Virginians is 361 per 100,000 residents, the lowest for all 50 states and DC,compared to the national average of 667 per 100,000.

In Fairfax County, where there were 1,063 burglaries in 2012, that average drops to 95 per 1000,000 residents, according to Fairfax County Police statistics for 2012.

gmacdonald@fairfaxtimes.com