Burglary (UCR) | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

According to the UCR definition, burglary is the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft.

This entry considers the Uniform Crime Reports definition.  There is a separate entry for the legal definition.

Burglary is a criminal offense that involves unlawful entry into a structure or dwelling with the intent to commit a crime, typically theft. The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) Program, which is administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), defines burglary as the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. Burglary is a serious offense that can result in property damage, financial loss, and emotional trauma for victims.

Burglary is classified as a property crime, and it is one of the most common property crimes that occur in the United States. Burglars typically target homes, businesses, and other structures that contain valuable items, such as jewelry, electronics, and cash. The offense can be committed in a variety of ways, including breaking and entering, using false pretenses to gain entry, and exploiting weaknesses in security systems.

The UCR Program collects data on burglary offenses from law enforcement agencies across the United States. These offenses are classified into two categories: those offenses involving forcible entry and those offenses involving non-forcible entry. Burglary offenses involving forcible entry include offenses in which the offender used force to gain entry into the structure, such as breaking a window or kicking down a door. Those offenses involving non-forcible entry include offenses in which the offender did not use force to gain entry into the structure, such as entering through an unlocked door or using a key that was stolen or copied.

In addition to the classification of burglary offenses, the UCR Program also collects data on the value of property stolen during the burglary. This data is used to determine the severity of the offense and to assist in allocating resources for burglary investigations and prevention efforts. In addition, the UCR Program collects data on the number of arrests made for burglary offenses, which is used to track crime trends and to identify areas where additional resources may be needed to combat burglary.

Burglary is a serious offense that carries severe penalties, including imprisonment, fines, and restitution for property damage or theft. Burglars may also be required to register as offenders, which can restrict their employment opportunities and place them under close monitoring by law enforcement agencies. In addition to the legal consequences of burglary, the emotional and psychological impact of burglary can be devastating for victims and their families.

To prevent and combat burglary, law enforcement agencies and policymakers have developed a variety of strategies and programs. These include increased community policing efforts, neighborhood watch programs, and public education campaigns about the importance of home security. Law enforcement agencies also work closely with businesses and homeowners to identify weaknesses in security systems and develop strategies to improve security.

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Last Modified: 04/06/2023


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