Most people know the difference between robbery and burglary, but burglary and larceny are two words often used interchangeably. The general consensus is that it means someone stole your stuff. While in some cases that’s true, there are some district differences between the two crimes according to the law. Each crime involves a wrongdoing against another person, however, it’s how it’s done and the intent of the criminal is what defines the differences between burglary and larceny.


How is Burglary Defined by Law?

While theft is often involved with burglary, it doesn’t necessarily mean property has been stolen. To say someone has been “burglarized” means someone unlawfully entered their dwelling (or garage, workplace, etc.); this could be picking a lock or breaking a window or it could simply mean the person walked into an unlocked or open door without being given permission. Burglary at its purest definition means illegal entry with the intent to commit a crime inside. The key word is intent. The three elements that define burglary are:

  • Unauthorized entry (either by force or not)
  • Physically entered the structure
  • Entered with intent to commit a crime

The intended crime could be theft, but it could also mean the motive was to harm someone inside of the building. Additionally, the person who unlawfully entered a dwelling could be charged with burglary even if the intended crime wasn’t committed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, there are four types of burglary: Completed burglary, forcible entry, unlawful entry without force and attempted forcible entry. When a person is charged with burglary, there are also different degrees a police officer may arrest a suspect depending upon the severity of the crime ranging from felony to misdemeanor charges.

How is Larceny Legally Defined?

Larceny is your basic stealing. It is also often referred to and legally defined as “theft” since most U.S. states have merged the two terms. This crime is charged when a person illegally takes and walks away with someone else’s property without authorization, even if they were invited to be in the house.  The intent of larceny to deprive the owner of his or her property. How larceny is generally broken down is:

  • Grand Larceny Definition – A big ticket item theft, either a lot of property has been stolen or a very valuable item was taken
  • Petty Larceny Definition – The charge if the item(s) stolen were of minimal value

Theft/ larceny is considered to be a non-violent crime. However, it is costly.

The average value of property taken during larceny-thefts was $929 per offense. When the average value is applied to the estimated number of larceny-thefts, the loss to victims nationally was an estimated $5.3 billion. (Insurance Journal)


U.S. Statistics of Burglary and Larceny

The 2015 U.S. FBI’s Crime Clock Statistics showed just how frequently burglaries and larcenies occur every day. According to statistics, a property crime occurred every 3.9 seconds – if you stop and think about it, this means several people are being victimized every single minute! Other figures show:

  • One burglary every 20 seconds
  • One larceny/theft every 5.5 seconds
  • One motor vehicle theft every 44.6 seconds

Knowing how often these crimes occur, many people turn to home security systems to protect themselves, their families and their belongings. Did you know the Electronic Security Association has reported nine of 10 burglars pass on homes they know are secured? And while unmonitored security is better than none, monitored home security is superior because your home is proactively watched and the crime can be stopped before you become a victim. If you’re interested in learning more about monitored home security, speak to one of our experts at Protect America today for more information and a free quote.