Burglary, theft and breaking and entering


What is Burglary?

Burglary is a crime that is defined as the illegal entry into a building or home for the purposes of committing an offense or committing a crime. Usually the offense committed during burglary is the theft of property.

Burglary is one of the most common crimes in the United States. Individuals burglarize homes, cares, businesses, storage units, and more. Stolen items are often sold at pawn shops or via online marketplaces such as eBay.

The crime of burglary consists of two elements: trespass and breaking. The trespass element indicates the an individual’s presence on the property (car, storage unit, etc.) is without the owner’s consent. In other words the thief did not have permission to enter. The breaking element consists of making an opening to enter the building.

To commit a burglary is to burgle or to burglarize.

Other common names for burglary include:

  • Breaking and entering
  • Housebreaking
  • Break-in
  • Home invasion

What is the punishment for burglary?

The punishment for burglary is usually imprisonment. The term of the imprisonment depends on the degree of severity of the burglary. Greater penalties are given if the burglary involved deadly weapons or if persons were injured as a result of the crime.

More Information

For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.


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