Property crimes are common and committed against another person’s possessions from buildings to physical items. They can range based on the violence of the crime and the amount taken or damaged. The circumstances of a crime will dictate the type of property crime it is. For instance, the perpetrator need not make off with any stolen goods. The fact that they forced their way into a place with the intent to steal is sufficient. Some crimes, such as a burglary, do not require the presence of a victim, while others, like robbery, do.
How Many Property Crimes are Committed in the U.S.?
Nationwide, there were over six million property crimes committed in the United States in 2019, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. The annual report stated that burglaries dropped more than nine percent, larceny-thefts decreased by just under three percent, and motor vehicle thefts were down four percent. Overall, victims of property crimes lost an estimated $15.8 billion in 2019. The FBI estimated that law enforcement made more than 10 million arrests that year, of which the arrest rate for burglary was 52.3 per 100,000 inhabitants.
What are the Different Types of Property Crimes?
There are several categories of property crimes, depending upon the conditions of the crime, the amount taken, the method used, and the presence of the victim. Some of the major property crimes include:
Burglary: This crime consists of a suspect forcing themselves into a closed structure, either by force or through coercion, with the intention of stealing something of value. New Jersey considers burglary to be a third-degree offense, punishable by a three to five-year prison term and a $15,000 fine. If an injury occurs during a burglary, the crime escalates to a second-degree offense, which includes a five to 10-year prison term. Under a second-degree offense, prison time is mandatory.
Robbery: This takes place when a person uses force or threatens to use force, unless someone hands over something of value. This is a second-degree crime punishable by a five to 10-year prison term. It can be elevated to a first-degree crime if the suspect threatens to kill someone, purposefully injures someone, or the subject is armed with a deadly weapon and specifically threatens to use that weapon. First degree crimes carry a 10 to 20-year prison term and under New Jersey law, a suspect must serve at least 85 percent of that before being eligible for parole.
Shoplifting: This is a minor crime that occurs when the suspect conceals goods at a store with the intent of not purchasing them. Usually, they will hide items in their coat or somewhere else in their clothes. A first and second shoplifting offense carries mandatory community service, with a third offense resulting in a 90-day prison sentence. If the amount stolen is more than $200, then the crime elevates to an indictable or felony offense.
Arson: This act involves someone intentionally setting fire to any type of building or even a forest. The severity of the crime increases if there is a possibility the act will cause harm to another human being. There are four degrees of arson, with the lightest being arson in the fourth degree. This is for people who have a contractual or legal duty to prevent a fire but fail to do so. It can carry an 18-month prison term. A third-degree arson charge occurs when someone deliberately sets fire to a building that endangers the structure or someone living in it; this carries a five-year prison term. Second degree arson has a five to 10-year prison sentence and is an act of purposefully setting fire to a building with the intention of hurting someone, collecting insurance fraud, or for some other nefarious purpose. First degree arson is reserved for those acts of arson on houses of worship and arson-for-hire cases and carry with them a 10 to 20-year prison term and a 15-year term for arson to a house of worship with no chance of parole.
Vandalism: This crime involves someone destroying, defacing, or degrading someone else’s property without permission. The more damage done, the greater the punishment. For instance, if there is less than $500 worth of damage, the state considers it a disorderly person’s offense, punishable by up to six months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Damage valued between $500 to $2,000 is a fourth-degree crime, punishable by a prison term up to 18 months and a maximum fine of $10,000. A third-degree crime consists of damage worth more than $2,000 and can result in a prison term of three to five years and a maximum fine of $15,000.
Haddonfield Criminal Defense Lawyers at Agre & St. John Help Those Charged with Property Crimes
If you are facing charges related to a property crime, do not hesitate to reach out to the Haddonfield criminal defense lawyers at Agre & St. John for help. They will assist you with your situation and help you arrive at the best solution possible. Call 856-428-7797 or contact us online for an initial consultation today. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.