Crime’s Secondary Order of Importance – Crimes Against Property


The second order of precedence under crimes against persons is crimes against property. For example, robbery is categorized as a crime against a person. Burglary, on the other hand, is classified as a crime against property.

In this article, I will describe three most common crimes against property:

  • Burglary
  • Environmental crime
  • Arson

Burglary is an offense that occurs when a person, without permission and with or without force, enters any structure such as a building, home, car, apartment with the intention of stealing.

Places such as parks, historic sites, and recreation areas and natural resources such as mineral, water, and forests contain criminal statutes that relate to environmental crime. Environmental laws very from state to state and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, in most states it is a misdemeanor to drive a motor vehicle without permission on sand dunes or beaches. Similarly, it is a crime to enter a park without following all the rules and regulations regarding use of the park. It is also a violation of laws regulating the archaeological exploration of excavation of a historic site. Indian burial grounds fall under this category.

Arson refers to the intentional and malicious burning of property. This crime can be quite complicated because there are many motives for perpetrating this crime.

Excitement is what motivates some arsonists. They do if for the thrills or the attention. Sometimes they are motivated to set a fire for their own sexual gratification. Revenge is another motive for one to commit arson. Perhaps the offender felt he was wronged by his employer, a corporation or society itself. Sometimes arson is committed to conceal another crime such as embezzlement, fraud, murder, or burglary. Some arsonists willfully set fire to their own property to file a fraudulent insurance claim and therefore commit insurance fraud.

At a crime scene, an accelerant such as gasoline or an explosive device will often be apparent. Many times it is difficult to link the crime to a particular offender because so much of the physical evidence is destroyed.

Burglary, environmental crime, and arson are the three most common crimes against property. Whenever you call 911 to report a burglary of a motor vehicle, and it takes police three hours to arrive at the scene, you will know that they were probably occupied with other calls of crimes against people that take priority over a burglary.

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