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What is a property crime?

On Behalf of | Nov 17, 2022 | Criminal law

You were in your car when you stopped at a red light. Someone came up to your car asking for money. After you said you didn’t have anything to give, they smashed in your window – this could be considered a property crime.

When people hear the legal term property crime, most people think of something someone owns being destroyed. For instance, someone’s store window being destroyed during a breaking-and-entering crime or graffiti on someone’s home – these are both examples of property crime destroying someone’s property.

However, a property crime can be considered an umbrella term because it doesn’t just include the destruction of property but may also include the theft of property. Here’s what you should know:

Different kinds of property crime

Vandalism is perhaps the most commonly known kind of property crime. This involves the destruction or defacing of someone’s property. A vandalism crime may also include trespassing and other charges depending on what the criminal did.

Arson occurs when a property is deliberately and maliciously set ablaze. Arson is often done as a form of insurance fraud but can also be from domestic violence.

Theft is a form of property crime that includes the act of taking someone else’s property with the intent of keeping it permanently. Larceny is a kind of property crime that seems very similar to theft but is often considered different because it was done without the consent of the property owner.

Shoplifting is a kind of theft that involves taking property from a business, which can hurt a business. Another form of theft includes burglary, however, charges may differ because burglary doesn’t have to involve property theft, but rather the intent to steal.

Similarly, robbery may seem like a form of theft, however, because the act may threaten someone’s life, or physically injure someone, criminal charges may worsen.

Each kind of property crime has different criminal charges, often depending on what the intent was, what was damaged or stolen, if there were witnesses and if there were any injuries to victims. No matter the charge, a property crime charge can dramatically alter someone’s life and lead to major fines and incarceration without the right defense.