According to the FBI, property crime refers to burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson, where property is stolen or attempted to be stolen from the victim, but where force or threat of force is not a factor.


Property crimes are reported, analyzed and categorized by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.  Burglary is defined as the “unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft.”  Force does not have to be used to gain access or entry into a “structure” in order for the crime of burglary to occur.

There are three subcategories of burglary:

  • Forcible entry
  • Unlawful entry without force
  • Attempted forcible entry

“Structure” includes:

  • Apartment
  • Barn
  • House trailer or houseboat – when used as a permanent dwelling
  • Office
  • Railroad Car
  • Stable
  • Vessel


The specific definition of larceny-theft, as reported by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR):
When property is unlawfully taken, carried, lead or ridden away from the constructive or actual possession of the owner without force or violence.

Examples of larceny thefts:

  • Shoplifted items
  • Bicycles
  • Auto parts
  • Items that are stolen by pick-pocketing
  • The larceny may be an attempted larceny

Motor Vehicle Theft

Motor vehicle theft includes the actual or attempted theft of a motor vehicle, according to the UCR.  Numerous vehicles fall within this category, including:
Vehicles that travel on land (rail vehicles are excluded)

  • Automobiles
  • Trucks
  • Motorcycles and motor scooters
  • All terrain vehicles
  • Buses
  • Snowmobiles


Arson is the willing or malicious burning or attempted burning of:

  • A dwelling
  • Public building
  • Motor vehicle
  • Aircraft
  • Personal property

There does not need to be the intent to defraud to be considerd arson.

Other Property Crime

Under the broad term of property crime, other offenses may be included:

  • Vandalism: generally includes criminal mischief or vandalism.
  • Reckless property damage or destruction: disregarding the knowledge that conduct will harm property but engaging in the conduct anyway.
  • Criminal trespass: entering property belonging to another without their consent or permission.
  • Graffiti: graffiti is the unlawful painting, engraving, marking or otherwise defacing of another’s property.
  • Vending machine theft – stealing contents and/or money from vending machines.
  • Safecracking – breaking into a safe and stealing contents.
  • Receiving stolen property – knowingly receiving stolen property is punishable according to its value and circumstances.
  • Other crimes are varied and proscribed by state statute.


  • According to data collected by the FBI, in 2009 there were more than 9,300,000 property crime offenses in the US.
  • Almost 68% of all property crimes fell under the category of larceny-theft.
  • Losses of more than $15 billion dollars resulted from property crimes that year.
  • Larceny-thefts accounted for almost 68% of property crimes in 2009.
  • Motor vehicle parts accounted for the largest percentage of reported larcenies – more than 36%.
  • Almost 800,000 motor vehicles were stolen in 2009.
  • $6,505: the average value per stolen motor vehicle.
  • 72% of stolen vehicles were automobiles.
  • 58,000: the number arsons that were reported.
  • $17,411: average arson dollar cost.

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Michael S. Berg
Attorney At Law