Property Crimes

Property Crime: A Comprehensive Overview

Property crimes are acts of theft or damages to another person’s property without the use of force or threat. Common property crimes include burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, arson, vandalism, and shoplifting. While these crimes are typically considered to be among the least serious offenses in the criminal justice system, they should still not be taken lightly.

A criminal lawyer can defend you or a loved one who is accused of wrongfully taking or possessing another person’s property without their expressed consent. Property crimes are usually not considered to be violent crimes, though sometimes violence comes with the taking of property.

Usually, property crimes involve the taking of expensive or costly items and may involve the use of force depending on the specific crime. A criminal lawyer can defend you or a loved one if accusations of property crime have been filed.

Types of Property Crime

Property crime is a broad classification of offenses that involve the taking of money or property without the use of physical force or fear. It includes vandalism, shoplifting, theft, motor vehicle theft, burglary, larceny, and arson. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each type of property crime and discuss potential consequences as well as whether it is a felony or misdemeanor.


Vandalism is the willful destruction or defacement of public or private property without permission. Examples include graffiti, breaking windows, and damaging street signs. Depending on the amount of damage done and the value of the property involved, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Potential consequences include fines, community service, and in some cases even prison time.


Shoplifting is the act of taking merchandise from a store without paying for it. This can range from minor items to expensive jewelry and electronics. Shoplifting is generally considered a misdemeanor, but it can be charged as a felony depending on the amount stolen. Potential consequences include payment of restitution, fines, and possible jail time.


Theft involves the taking of another person’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. This includes stealing from stores, homes, or other individuals. Depending on the value and type of items taken, it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. Potential consequences include jail time, probation or parole, restitution, and/or community service.

Motor Vehicle Theft

Motor Vehicle Theft involves taking another person’s car without their permission. Jail time is a likely consequence if convicted, and it may also include probation or parole and hefty fines. In some states, it is considered a felony regardless of the value of the vehicle taken.


Burglary refers to the unlawful entering into an occupied structure or dwelling with the intent to commit a crime. This could range from stealing property to assault or murder. It is generally considered a felony and could potentially result in long prison sentences and large fines.


Larceny is the unlawful taking of another person’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. This typically refers to stealing something from a person rather than shoplifting. It can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the value of the property taken, and possible consequences can vary greatly in severity depending on the facts of the case.


Arson involves willfully setting fire to someone else’s property without their permission. It is always a felony and can carry severe penalties including lengthy prison sentences and significant fines.

Often, these crimes are prosecuted as felonies and come with severe consequences for the convicted. Property crime is usually consistent with offenders who are under 18 years of age, but studies are concluding that while overall property crimes are still common, they are actually declining in frequency across the country.


Property crimes are a serious offense in the United States, and they can have far-reaching consequences. A conviction for property crimes can have harsh penalties, including jail time and hefty fines. Beyond that, a conviction can also have an effect on one’s employment opportunities, housing prospects, and reputation.

The most common property crime is larceny/theft — taking another person’s property without their permission or consent. This kind of crime ranges from shoplifting to grand theft auto and can carry a punishment of up to 30 years in prison. Burglary, which involves entering someone’s home or place of work with the intent to commit a crime there, can result in up to 20 years in prison depending on the situation. Vandalism, or intentionally damaging another person’s property, is also considered a type of property crime. Vandalism may lead to both criminal and civil charges with penalties ranging from probation to community service, fines, and even jail time.

In addition to spending time in jail or paying hefty fines, those convicted of property crimes may face difficulty finding employment or accessing public assistance programs. Employers often conduct background checks when considering candidates, so potential employers may be discouraged when they find out about the conviction. Furthermore, landlords may reject an application if the applicant has a criminal record.

Aside from practical implications, a conviction for property crimes can also have an effect on one’s self-esteem. A person convicted of this type of crime might feel shame and guilt over their actions and may become isolated from friends and family as a result. It can be difficult to rebuild one’s life after being convicted of a crime — it will require dedication and patience — but it is not impossible. With hard work and determination, those who were formerly convicted can create meaningful lives for themselves.

How A Criminal Lawyer Can Help

Being charged with a property crime can change your life forever. It can become difficult to obtain or keep employment and reflect badly on a person’s character for a long period of time. That’s why having a professional and caring criminal lawyer on your side is necessary when it comes to charges of a property crime.

A criminal lawyer can review the accusations, collect evidence, conduct interviews, and work on your behalf to lessen the charges or have them thrown out altogether. Contact a criminal attorney as soon as possible if you or a family member has been charged with a property crime.