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Burglary and South Africa Crime Survey

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South Africa is a country with a huge crime problem.  Today, the government released its 2012 Victims of Crime Survey.  An interesting question asked the households which crimes they feared most, with multiple responses permitted.  Housebreaking/burglary was first, followed by home robbery, street robbery, and murder.  See also this story on iafrica.com.

An persistent error of the soft-on-crime crowd is to underestimate the severity of burglary, classifying it as "only a property crime."  That is because they see things from the criminal's viewpoint.  A criminal who break into a home and steals the television wants property and has not applied violence to any person, so it's a property crime.

From the victim's viewpoint, burglary is crime of psychological violence.  It is an invasion of our inner sanctum.  Some people can't live in their homes any more and have to move.  Replacing the television and fixing the door are trivial in comparison to the psychological injury.

In the previous attempt to amend California's Three Strikes law by initiative, the dummies proposed to take residential burglary off the "serious" felony list.  Big mistake.  I was on a panel at a Three Strikes symposium a while back and Tom Hayden, of all people, denounced what a mistake undervaluing burglary was.  I was pleasantly surprised.

3 Comments

"From the victim's viewpoint, burglary is crime of psychological violence. It is an invasion of our inner sanctum. Some people can't live in their homes any more and have to move. Replacing the television and fixing the door are trivial in comparison to the psychological injury."

Agreed. And on top of that, when someone makes a living breaking into homes, it is likely that person will encounter a person inside the home at some point in his career. The potential for brutality is great.

The burglary of occupied homes is a serious crime, and needs to be punished with harsh sentences.

Also found to possess burglar's tools?
Trayvon Martin
[prior to attacking George Zimmerman]
~~Adamakis

The "risk of hostile confrontation" in a residential burglary has served as the basis of most jurisdictions ranking of this as a crime of violence.

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