Residential Burglary and Residential Robbery: A Patterns in Crime Comparative Analysis

Petra Jonas, Simon Fraser University

The phenomenon commonly referred to 'home invasion,' is a classic representation of burglary at common law. However, in 1892, a shift in the definition of burglary occurred, and it went from being so narrowly defined as solely a nocturnal offence, to one that significantly broadened what encompassed the crime of burglary. By broadening the definition of break-and-enter, the revised version of the offence does not consider a distinct charge for a person breaking into an individual's dwelling when it is occupied. This type of criminal intrusion is a unique type of crime because in most instances, breaking into a dwelling when occupied turns into a violent altercation, where either violence or the threat of violence ensues, and the confiscation of a person's property transpires in conjunction with the original crime. Thus, this type of home invasion described is a residential robbery, which is an entirely different crime from a typical residential burglary, since the latter consists of an offender 'breaking' into an uninhabited residence. The purpose of this paper is to present the patterns in crime, both temporal and spatial, as well as some theoretical considerations, for residential burglary and robbery, in order to emphasize their distinguishing nature.

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Updated 05/20/2006