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Crimes Against Property and Their Characteristics

To what extent are property offenders’ rational actors?

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Many people are convinced that property offenders are rarely guided by any logic or rationality. However, many of them are. The truth is the logic of such a person is not the same as the logic of an engineer or a mathematician, for example. Offenders are usually not highly intelligent (apart from professional ones, admittedly), and their rationality is limited. As a prime example of logic and reason, there is always an economic factor. The majority of burglars, for instance, are motivated by the need for easy and fast cash. However, the money they get is usually spent for drugs, alcohol or other activities that are determined by their lifestyle. Naturally, it requires more and more money, the need for cash is never satisfied, and the risk of being caught increases, which is why their actions can be considered as irrational. The research in Texas and St. Louis proves that it is true. Larceny has even more examples of irrational behavior. For instance, 20-year-old Caroline Giuliani was caught for stealing some makeup from the store in 2010. This act was pretty illogical since the store had security cameras and she was arrested right away. From my point of view, people who do not commit thefts but help with the distribution are more rational. As a prime example, there are a lot of receivers who successfully buy and sell stolen goods, create covers for this activity, and so on.

What constitutes the crime of burglary? What are some of its characteristics?

Burglary is an illegal entry into any type of a building with the aim to commit a crime, most commonly a theft. This type of a crime does not require direct confrontation of a criminal and a victim. Even a forcible entry is not a mandatory component of burglary; it can be committed with either forcible/attempted forcible entry or unlawful entry, which does not imply the use of force.

What constitutes the crime of larceny-theft? What forms does it take?

Larceny-theft can be defined as an illegal caption and removal of someone else’s property. Unlike burglary, it does not imply unlawful entry or the use of force. The most common forms of larceny-theft are thefts from motor vehicles, shoplifting, thefts from buildings, purse snatching, pocket-picking, etc.

What is motor vehicle theft? How prevalent is it?

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This kind of a crime against property can be defined as a theft of any type of vehicle (cars, buses, motorcycles, etc.) or an effort to do this. In 2012, more than 700,000 vehicles were stolen. Cars become objects of motor vehicle theft most often, and garages or parking lots are the most common scenes of the crime. The majority of thefts (more than 80%) are reported to the police.

What constitutes the crime of arson?

Arson is an act of intentional or malicious setting fire or an effort to set fire to buildings, vehicles, personal property, dumpsters, etc. Most commonly, it is committed by juveniles. Almost the half (47%) of the cases are arsons involving buildings.

What are some characteristics of persistent and professional thieves?

Professional thieves are more skillful and successful than others. They know what they do and prepare for crimes better. As one professional thief tells, he wakes up every morning thinking about a crime just like others think about their jobs. Besides, professionals are rarely caught by police. Persistent thieves just continue committing crimes regardless of their level of success, which is usually not high.

What are the typical activities of receivers of stolen property, and how are stolen goods distributed?

Stolen goods can be sold at auctions and flea markets, as well as directly to buyers. For example, some burglars steal only those things that a particular person needs and will buy. Many thieves use services of criminal receivers, which can be divided into three types: professional, avocational, and amateur. Professional receivers buy and distribute stolen property on a regular basis. They usually have a legitimate business to cover their activity. A group of avocational receivers consists of people who also distribute stolen goods on a regular basis but buy only those goods that are somehow connected to their legitimate primary activity. Amateurs are ordinary citizens who buy stolen goods occasionally and for their personal consumption.

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