The Official Definitions Of Crime

Although you and I will know burglary as simply when someone gets into our home and steals some valuables, there are approved definitions of what does and doesnt constitute a burglary crime. In todays article we will try and explain some of the terminology used in the definitions of burglaries as it relates to non-commercial or home owner connected crimes.


The fundamental piece of legislation that we will refer to all through this article is the UK Theft Act 1968 which defines the significant elements of a crime/burglary recorded by the police is access (or attempted access) into a home or premise with intent to do the following:

Unlawfully take valuables or belongings inside the property without the consent of the home owner.
In conjunction with or as a result of the above, inflicting physical injury
Commit criminal damage to the outside or inside of the property

Records held by the police furthermore distinguish between domestic and non-domestic offences, with criminal break-ins to houses obviously deemed as domestic offences.

A domestic theft is defined as unauthorised access (including actual and attempted break-in) into the house owners/victims dwelling or any part of the dwelling linked to by a door e.g. garage. In the UK any person convicted of theft would be liable to a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

Aggravated Burglary

According to the Theft Act 1968, a person is guilty of aggravated burglary if he commits any burglary and when doing so has with him a firearm (or imitation forearm) or any other weapon of offence or explosive.

The word firearm refers to things such as airguns, air pistols, shotguns, revolvers etc.

A weapon of offence refers to an article made or adapted for use for causing harm or injury or for incapacitating a person.

An explosive means any article made solely for the purpose producing a practical effect by explosion.

Anyone convicted in the UK for the crime of aggravated burglary may possibly face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Other Types of Theft

The police in the UK record other thefts such as handling stolen goods, but it does not include theft from vehicles.

British Crime Survey

The British Crime Survey (BCS) is a study, currently carried out by an external third party (BMRB Limited) on behalf of the UK home office. The yearly study looks to assess the amount of crime recorded in England and Wales; this is done by interviewing around 50,000 householders about the crimes they have experienced.

The BCS is more accurate than police statistics because it includes crimes that may not have been reported to the police; this is important as the BCS estimates that over 50% of crimes are not reported.

The British Crime Survey (BCS) coverage of thefts includes:

There are two types of thefts from person: one where violence/force is involved and the other where the theft is done through stealth. For the purposes of recorded crime, the police only take into account offences where no force or threats are used.

Another example of theft is where valuables are taken away from the home such as the office. Again, police only record crime where no violence or force has been used.

Another important group of theft is the theft in a dwelling by someone known to the victim i.e. someone that was permitted to be there. This looks at cases where valuables are stolen from inside the victims house.