Burglary is the illegal entry into a building which leads to thefts and felony crimes. Someone will enter forcibly into a building without the knowledge of an owner to steal money, jewelry products, and other expensive materials. However, each state in a country has certain specific definitions when it comes to burglaries. The punishments may vary depending on the nature of a crime in a country and they may become severe in some cases. Nowadays, a majority of homes and businesses face threats from burglars who loot valuable items and other things.
The crime rates are increasing every year in different parts of the world which lead to various problems in society. There are various factors which influence a person to indulge in criminal activities. A crime involves different types and people should know more about them in detail for implementing preventive measures accordingly.
The following statistics will help building owners to take preventive measures against burglars that can provide peace of mind.
• A recent study reveals that most burglary occurs every 13 seconds in the US
• Buildings which are not having security items have high chances of breaking which lead to loos of valuable items and other things
• Burglars prefer suburban homes for stealing more goods
• Only 17% of buildings in the US have a strong security system
• Most burglaries are not planned and burglars know their victims very well
• Warmer days see an increase in burglary activities
• Bulgars who indulge in criminal activities are not professionals
• 15 % burglars carry a firearm and other deadly weapons
• Only 14 % of burglary cases result in arrests
• Cash is the most stolen item in the building followed by jewelry and other things
• Bulgars enter into a property through air-conditioned windows and unlocked doors
• Most burglaries take place in less than 10 minutes
The best way to prevent burglary in a home is to inform the police in advance when a property owner is gone out for vacations or business trips.
What are the different degrees of burglary?
Many states in the USA define burglary in three degrees and categorize crimes based on them to determine the punishments.
First-degree burglary is the most serious one which can carry maximum punishment up to 15 to 20 years imprisonment. It mainly involves entering or remaining unlawfully in a building with the intention to commit a crime. Anyone who commits burglary in buildings with arms, deadly weapons, and explosives come under the first-degree burglary.
Second-degree burglary involves entering unlawfully into a residential building without arms and weapons that result in crimes. It can earn a sentence approximately up to 10 years. At the same time, the punishment may vary depending on certain factors. They include prior convictions, evidence, and the crime type after entering a building.
Third-degree burglary involves breaking and entering into a building where theft was not the intent. Those who commit any crime other than arson or violence. Defendants who convicted of third-degree burglary will face a sentence up to 5 years or more.
The requirements for first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree burglaries may vary between the states.
What are elements to consider in a burglary?
Most states define burglary with certain elements when charging a defendant and one should examine each of them carefully.
1.Entering and breaking without the consent
The first element in a burglary is breaking and entering into a building structure without the consent of a person. Actual and constructive are the two types of breaking that can happen in a building. Actual breaking involves using physical forces for opening a door or damaging the locks that actually result in crimes. Constructive breaking means entering into a building structure without using physical forces. Even placing one body part inside a property is sufficient to support a charge of burglary.
2.A building or occupied structure
Intrusion is another element to consider in burglary and offenders should have entered a building structure. However, some states don’t include abandoned buildings when considering the charges of an offender. A building that covers accommodation facilities to people or animals come under the occupied structures. Sheds, garages, stores, and commercial buildings also qualify when it comes to burglaries.
It is an important one for a store and a commercial building to make sure that they have closed their operations to the public at the time of the crime. If a person enters a retail store during the working hours and steals something then, it is not a burglary.
An offender must have the intent to commit a crime after entering into a building structure. The timing plays an important role in determining the crime degree. On the other hand, states will classify the burglary based on certain factors. Therefore, it is advisable to know the specific laws followed in a state that can help to get more ideas.
Burglary break down
A person who stays in a building structure with the intention to commit a crime is a burglar. It is necessary to know the types of burglary in detail to prove that a defendant was in a building to commit a felony.
Residential burglary is a serious crime than regular burglary. It is a class 1 felony that can lead to severe punishments. Apartments, villas, bungalows, and individual homes which accommodate people for living come under the residential structure. Acts of vandalism and arson are also included in a residential property crime. A person who takes away money and other valuable properties from a home will get the maximum punishment.
Home invasion is similar to residential burglary charges that involve aggravating factors. It refers to a crime committed by an individual after entering into a building without any permission. If he indulges in the following activities then, they belong to a home invasion.
• Possessing a firearm or weapon at the time of the incident
• Threatening residents with fire guns
• Threatening to utilize a force against the residents
• Assaulting or abusing a resident
Commercial burglary refers to the act of entering into a store, office, or other similar structures for stealing something. It takes a wide variety of forms that involve more than one offender who utilizes heavy weapons. The punishment may involve county jail and other charges depending upon the crime. Several states define the burglary as shoplifting that can lead to severe charges.
4.Possession of burglary tools
Possessing burglary tools such as lock picking kit, explosives, firearms, and other harmful tools can result in criminal charges. Individuals who caught with them have to face penalties and other charges. Utilizing tools to commit crimes will lead to additional charges.
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Knowing more about the types of burglars
Burglars have something in common when they want to steal home or commercial property. It is necessary to know more about them in detail that can help to implement preventive measures accordingly.
An opportunistic burglar often indulges in simple and quick crimes without any planning. He or she will take advantage of doors and windows in a property that is not closed properly. Another thing is that they don’t cause more damages after entering a building. They will try to take whatever the goods that are available in a property. Moreover, the punishments are not severe when compared to other burglars.
Scout burglars enter into a building anytime and they will smash a door or window for gaining accessing easily. Most of them often forced to steal things due to drug and alcohol addiction problems. They will take the goods whatever they get in their hands.
A prowler is a type of burglar who knows what type of items to steal that are fast selling on the markets. He or she usually targets high-value things rather than low-value things. Moreover, they plan everything in advance for making the attempts a successful one. In fact, they will watch the movements and habits of people in a dwelling before executing a plan.
Hunter is a type of burglar who enters into a building for taking valuables that suit a backpack or pocket. He or she will steal cash, jewelry, smartphones, gadgets, and other things.
Looting burglary usually happens during natural disasters, riots, and violence in a location. It is not a well-planned one and burglars often take advantage of the situations to steal valuable things in a building. The law enforcement authorities will find them through CCTV cameras for taking actions against them immediately. On the other hand, the courts will consider the crime when an offender enters a building to cause extensive damage and losses.
A complete burglar is a person who takes away all the things in a building with planning. He or she will wait for a long time when people leave their home for a long vacation. They will come with a truck and utilizes it for emptying a home or other property.
A specialist will often target on luxury homes and commercial buildings for steaking highly expensive goods. The specialists focus more on selecting the best targets to carry on the activity with special attention. Furthermore, they even work with other criminals and groups to schedule a plan.
A professional burglar aims at targeting specific high-value items in a building and do complete research on security cameras or other systems before executing a plan. The professional burglars mostly operate as a group to steal valuable things from warehouses and commercial buildings.
What are the penalties meant for burglary cases?
The penalties for burglary cases may vary one state to another state in a country. A court will decide the sentence based on the crime degree, background, and type. A person who is facing burglary will face the following penalties in state and federal courts.
Courts impose fines on burglars after evaluating a case in detail. The fines may vary depending on a state and a felony conviction may lead to more fines. At the same time, misdemeanor fees are usually less when compared to other convictions.
Bulgars will face potential jail sentences after being charged with a crime. A felony offense can result in more than 5 years or more in a state depending on the crime. On the other hand, a misdemeanor burglary can lead to one-year jail with low fines.
A court will impose probation sentences to burglars under the supervision of an officer. They should meet with the officer regularly as per the court’s order. In addition, they shouldn’t travel to a place without getting permission from an officer. Since the probation laws vary with a state, it is necessary to know about them in detail.
Restitution involves paying compensation to the damages caused in a property due to burglary activities. An offender has to pay amounts for restoring the damaged property to its original state as per the court’s order.
5. Alternative sentence
Criminal courts in some states will recommend alternative sentencing for a conviction. Some of them include house arrest with GPS monitoring, rehabilitation programs, partial sentencing, and mandatory community service. This will help an offender not to commit any crimes in the future that can reduce risks. In most cases, a court will decide the sentence after evaluating the mental health of offenders. However, the alternative sentence is not available for all cases.
What are the factors considered when determining a burglary sentence?
The criminal court judge will consider certain important factors which increase or decrease the sentence to a burglar. Some of them include:
• Use of weapons
• Mental health or substance used at the time of burglary
• Nature of the crime
• Time and location
• Previous history
• The type of structure
• Number of people present in a structure
• Violence activities such as arson and assault
A court will determine the sentence after analyzing a case and an offender can prove his or her innocence for false allegations with a lawyer. An offender can appeal in a court against the judgment with a lawyer for minimizing potential risks. On the other hand, it will take some time and a defendant should know more about the process before filing an appeal.
What will happen to a burglar after the arrest?
A judge will issue an arrest warrant to a burglar after convicted with a crime and a police officer will try to locate the person as soon as possible. The law enforcement authorities will arrest an accused after showing the warrant issued by a court. They will take the fingerprints and complete other procedures before producing him or her in a court.
An offender is taken into a police custody before a hearing process which usually takes 48 hours.
He or she can work with a professional lawyer for protecting individual rights. A judge will read the charges against an offender in order to make sure that he or she understands them properly. A jury will make the decision after hearing arguments from both sides. It even determines whether an offender is guilty or not based on the evidence and other factors.
The court will seek a report from the police department to know about the conviction. Apart from that, the offenders have to undergo a trial when charged with a crime. A defendant can even enter a plea of guilty to prove that the charges are false. A judge will consider many factors while deciding a sentence.
What to do after a burglary?
Burglary can happen anytime in a building that can result in heavy loss. It is an important one for property owners to focus more on certain important things for preparing a report in detail.
1. Taking an inventory of personal property
A property owner should keep the original documents of valuable items such as jewelry, gadgets, gaming system, television, mobile phones, laptops, and other appliances. Furthermore, it is advisable to take photos of damages for filing the insurance claim.
2. Reporting to police immediately
One should call the police quickly after a burglary with original documents and photos. Fling a police case within 24 hours from the time of the incident will ultimately help to process insurance claims faster.
3.Calling the insurance company
A burglary victim should call the insurance company within 24 hours for claiming amounts as soon as possible. On the other hand, it is necessary to make sure that the details submitted to the police are accurate.
4.Installing security equipment
A majority of buildings these days don’t have security equipment which leads to crimes. Hence, they need to install high-quality safety devices for preventing the entry of burglars.
5.Implementing a plan to eliminate further break-ins
Whether it is a home invasion, natural calamity or other disasters, a property owner should implement a plan to eliminate break-ins in the future. It should cover safety measures to a family in a dwelling that can help to reduce unwanted issues.
What is the role played by the police after a burglary?
The police departments will educate people about crimes and recommend them to follow preventive measures in advance. They will visit the spot quickly to a property after a burglary and start their investigation to find culprits as soon as possible. Another thing is that they will take fingerprints carefully for further investigation. Some even use tools for generating a report easily that can save more time. Besides that, they will collect evidence after taking the pictures in a property. The property owners should cooperate with the police and they shouldn’t hide anything when it comes to losses. CWP
by John Young & Richard Garland
Richard is also a retired police officer with 35 year of service