Types of Burglars Assignment Question
Burglary , the unlawful entry of a structure in order to commit a felony or theft, may include actual forcible entry, unlawful entry where no force is used, or attempted forcible entry.
the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft.
Types of Burglars
Marilyn Walsh, in The Fence (1977), provides an interesting typology of burglars, a continuum from most organized to least organized.
Walsh’s types of burglars are professionals, known burglars, young burglars, juvenile burglars, and junkies. The professional, “skilled,” or “master” burglar exhibits the characteristics of professional criminal behavior. Such offenders are highly skilled, undertake extensive planning, and concentrate on big jobs because burglary is often their sole livelihood. Known burglars are far less sophisticated, professional, or successful, even though burglary may represent a major source of their livelihood. Their operations are generally much cruder, and they rely less on organization than do more professional burglars. Being older and more experienced than other amateur burglars, the known burglars are so called because they are known to the police, which suggests that they are less successful than professionals. They are an excellent illustration that practice does not always make perfect (see Rengert & Wasilchick, 1985; Shover, 1973).
Young burglars are usually in their late teens or early 20s, have less planning or organization in their operations than professionals, and are well on their way to becoming professional or known burglars. Juvenile burglars are under 16 years of age and prey on local neighborhood targets chosen by chance or occasion; such juveniles often operate under the supervision of older “fences” (defined shortly) and burglars. Finally, junkies (drug addicts) are simply opportunist burglars and are the least skilled of such thieves.
Other analyses of burglars have basically supported Walsh’s distinctions (Pope, 1980; Repetto, 1974; Scarr, 1973). Although not constituting a distinct typology as such, Repetto’s case study of 97 burglars provides some interesting profiles. Juvenile offenders were generally unskilled, concentrated on local easy targets of small gain, and viewed crime more as a game than as a commitment to a way of life. The 18- to 25-year-old offenders, despite previous convictions, continued to burglarize because they found low-risk targets. Many in this group were drug users. Their targets were more likely to be outside their neighborhoods and produce higher gains; they made more extensive use of fences. Older offenders (over 25) had extensive incarceration histories, continued at burglary because of its low risk, exercised better planning, and had fewer but higher quality targets. Such individuals were more highly committed to criminal careers. Drug users were likely to perform more burglaries than nonusers but were more likely to work near their own neighborhoods and to be more reckless or unplanned in their operation. In contrast, the non–drug users performed fewer but better-planned burglaries. In a statistical analysis of burglaries in California, Pope (1980) found that those with no criminal records concentrated on nonresidential targets, whereas those with records preferred residential sites. He concluded that “unlike violent crimes in which there is an interactive pattern [between type of burglar and type of burglary], burglary and other property crimes as well, may reflect more opportunity than choice” (p. 50; see also Wright & Decker, 1996). Wright and Decker interviewed 105 active burglars using a snowball sample (a sample that relies on referrals from initial subjects to generate additional subjects) and an ex-offender with high status among Saint Louis criminals. They found that two thirds of their sample averaged 10 or fewer burglaries in a year, and 7% averaged 50 or more per year. Most viewed themselves as “hustlers” and committed a variety of other offenses. Most offenders followed a script in which they worked with others, searching the master bedroom first and the living room last. Most did not remain long, fearing apprehension. They disposed of their bounty quickly through fences or acquaintances for a mere fraction of its value.
The biggest news on burglary in the United States is its decline from 3.8 million reported cases in 1981 to 1.5 million in 2016—over a 60% drop (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2016b). In New York City during a similar period (1985–2016), burglary decreased more than 90%. Although other crimes also declined during this period, the decrease in burglaries was the most persistent. Explanations have included changes in tax write-off laws for burglary losses, better security awareness, proliferation of guns (which favors robbery), replacement of heroin with crack (the latter requiring more and quicker money), and better police investigatio