A burglary occurs approximately every 18.2 seconds in the U.S. Victims lose an average of $2,251 in a burglary offense. Second degree burglary is among the most common types of burglary. You might be wondering, what exactly gets rolled into these statistics? What constitutes a burglary?
Burglary is defined as the act of breaking and entering into a structure with the intent to steal or commit a crime therein. That structure might be a home, business, storage unit, or even a tent. Burglary is one of the most common crimes committed against homes and businesses.
Burglary is also broken down into subcategories, called degrees: first, second, and third. The specifics of each vary a little bit by state, but basically work like this:
- First Degree: Burglarizing a home or dwelling when somebody is present. Or, in some cases, when the person breaking in did so with the plan to commit a particular crime in advance.
- Second Degree: Burglarizing a home or dwelling when nobody is home.
- Third Degree: Usually reserved for commercial property and auto theft.
To be guilty of burglary, the perpetrator doesn’t have to actually steal anything, the intent to steal is good enough. For example, if a burglar broke into your home to steal medicines from your bathroom but didn’t find any to take, they are still potentially guilty of burglary.
To be guilt of burglary, the perpetrator doesn’t have to actually steal anything, the intent to steal is good enough.
There are three key elements of second degree burglary:
Breaking and Entry
This can occur in different ways. The most obvious is through physical force, such as breaking a window. Even minimal physical force, such as pushing open an unlocked door, counts. Entry gained through non-physical force, such as threats or fraud, counts too, as long as the entry occurs without your consent.
Into a Building or Structure
Any structure that houses people or property typically qualifies. Abandoned buildings typically do not. Also, the structure can’t be open to the public at the time of the incident. For example, stealing from a drug store by pocketing something during business hours is likely to be charged as shoplifting, but breaking in after hours and stealing the same item would be burglary.
With Intent to Commit a Crime
For an incident to qualify as burglary, the perpetrator must have intent to commit a crime inside the structure. Typically the intended crime is theft, but it can be something else. Breaking in and then leaving again, perhaps just to view something, isn’t necessarily burglary.
There are quite a few factors that can affect whether a burglary is considered second degree of falls into another category. Each state has individual attributes it takes into consideration when deciding how to charge cases. That’s why the statistics cited at the beginning of this article don’t break out burglary by degree.
Statistics show that you can substantially reduce your chances of falling victim to second degree burglary by employing a home security system. A University of North Carolina study found that 60% of burglars avoid a potential target altogether if an alarm system is present.