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Property Crime: An In-Depth Look

Property crime occurs when someone attempts to destroy someone else’s property, or to steal something from their property. This type of crime can consist of anything from arson to theft or breaking and entering. Property crime does not always have to affect one’s home; it can also consist of committing a crime against someone’s car, boat, or other form of property. It is essential to know the types of property crime and how you can protect yourself from this happening to you.

Types of Property Crime


Burglary can occur in several different forms. In most cases, burglary involves breaking and entering unlawfully. This can happen at both places of residence and at businesses. The intent to commit or the act of committing a crime, whether it is theft or not, is classified as a burglary. It also does not have to involve breaking and entering; burglary can also happen when someone trespasses illegally. Deterrent methods such as installing alarm systems and locking doors and windows can help to keep the odds of burglary down.


Theft involves stealing someone’s personal property. Theft can consist of stealing money or items from a store, or of stealing someone’s personal property. It can also involve the theft of a vehicle. This can be done either through force, or by simply stealing by breaking into someone’s property. Theft also covers things like money embezzlement, identity theft, and obtaining merchandise under false pretenses.

  • Identity Theft – Important information about identity theft and how to avoid it.
  • For Kids – Information kids should know about the penalties and punishments for theft.
  • Petty Theft – Definition of and information about the crime of petty theft.

Motor Vehicle Theft

Motor vehicle theft involves either stealing something from a vehicle, or the theft of the vehicle itself. Laws for this type of theft vary from state to state, but the theft of cars is always taken very seriously. People should be diligent when it comes to securing and protecting their cars from theft. Using common sense and always locking your car are good steps to take to prevent this kind of theft from occurring.

  • Examples – Some examples of what motor vehicle theft is, along with statistics for the state of South Carolina.
  • Motor Vehicle Theft – The FBI’s page on motor vehicle theft.
  • Statistics – Some statistics on motor vehicle theft in the United States.


The definition of arson is a fire started by someone intentionally. In many cases, people commit arson for insurance reasons, but often it is out of simple revenge or maliciousness. Regardless of the reason, arson is highly illegal and can cost people their homes, businesses, or their lives. Fire departments all over the world have special capabilities to determine whether or not a fire was set on purpose, and can therefore be classified as arson.

  • Arson Investigation – This helpful site explains how a fire is determined to be arson.
  • Arson Awareness Week – How you can help to make others aware of the crime of arson, and prevent it in your community.
  • ICAC – A group dedicated to controlling arson.

Property Crime Reporting

Uniform Crime Report

A uniform crime report is a compilation of crime statistics from various police departments across the country. These statistics are then reported to the FBI, so they can better gauge where problems lie. Most major crimes are reported including murder, rape, arson, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and more. The report is then compiled and distributed annually.

  • FBI – The FBI’s page on uniform crime reports.
  • How it Works – How the data is collected, and how it gets distributed.
  • UCR Studies – A resource for getting UCR studies from years past, and more.

Theories of Property Crime

Rational Choice

There are many theories as to why people commit property crime. The theory of rational choice consists of man being able to make his own, rational choice and acting upon it, whether he knows the consequences or not. Most crimes are committed as a result of one’s rational choice, thus they are aware of their crime.

Routine Activity

The theory of routine activity in regards to crime means that a person commits a crime based on the opportunities available. This theory accepts the fact that certain levels of crime are normal, and that people will commit various crimes if they are able to get away with it. These types of crimes are usually misdemeanors, and consist of things like petty theft that tend to go unreported.

  • Routine Activity – Outlines the routine activity theory.
  • Resources – This page lists various resources and journals regarding the routine activity theory.
  • Reasons – Explains some of the reasons behind those who commit a crime using the routine activity theory.

 Property Crime Statistics

  • US Safety Data – Basic statistical data on both violent and property related crimes.
  • Behind the Stats – Some of the reasons why property crime statistics tend to be high.
  • Index – This page specifies various types of property crimes and who commits them.
  • Example by City – Los Angele’s property crime stats.

Understanding why people commit property crimes is part of the bigger picture in terms of preventing them. Securing your home and valuables can help to prevent you from becoming a victim. It is important that all citizens are aware of not only the different types of property crimes, but also ways to keep them from happening in their own communities.


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