Crimes Against Property and Persons

Cite this article as:"Crimes Against Property and Persons," in The Business Professor, updated January 5, 2015, last accessed May 31, 2020,
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Crimes against Persons and Property
This video explains various crimes against a person or property.

Next Article: Activity Constituting Fraud


What are some common crimes involving the property of others?

Each state adopts its own criminal statutes. Some of the more common types of named criminal offenses against someone else’s property include:

  • Larceny – Larceny is the unlawful taking (theft) of personal property with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of it.
  • Robbery – Robbery is theft through violence or threat.
  • Burglary – Burglary is theft by breaking into a building (sometimes at night) with intent to commit a felony therein.
  • Extortion – This is the unlawful obtaining of another’s property though coercion, such as the threat of violence.
  • Embezzlement – This is the theft of money by an individual entrusted to hold it.
  • Fraud, False Pretenses, and Theft by Deception – Fraud, False Pretenses, and Theft by Deception involve deceiving someone to unlawfully take possession of her property. While fraud generally involves deception, false pretenses and theft by deception requires a knowingly false representation.

There are many statutory and common-law charges involving the property of others. These above-mentioned examples, however, are generally uniform across jurisdictions.

Discussion: How do you feel about the premise of revoking an individual’s liberty for actions that harm the possessions or property of others? Does the individual’s intent when carrying out these actions influence your opinion?

Discussion Input

Those who place a high value on property rights might argue that crimes against property are equally serious to crimes against a person. Others might argue that ownership of property should never subject an individual to a loss of freedom. These arguments can be likewise influenced by defendant’s intent in infringe upon property rights. For example, if a person steals to feed her impoverished family, it is less culpable than someone who steals without necessity for personal enrichment.

Practice Question: What is the difference between larceny, robbery and burglary? What is the difference between extortion and embezzlement? What is the difference between fraud and theft by deception?

Proposed Answer

Larceny may occur in the two forms:simple and grand. If the person takes the personal belongings or property of another individual, she commits larceny. They then convert the items for their own use such as selling it for cash or taking money from an individual. In grand larceny, they will take something of value greater than the state maximum for petty or simple larceny. When a person commits robbery, they steal something that belongs to another person (similarly to larceny), and they often use force, some form of threat, intimidation or a deadly weapon. Often, the perpetrator will harm another person. Similarly, burglary requires the person to enter into the building without consent. Then they must commit another crime while inside. This does not require that the individual steal anything. If theft is the crime committed, the individual could take anything as low in value as $5 and still commit burglary. In burglary, the perpetrator does not need the use of a weapon, entry is paramount.

The difference between extortion and embezzlement.

Extortion refers to when a person uses or sends threats to another with the aim of getting money from them. Embezzlement refers to when a person in a position of authority such as an accountant with access to company funds missuses that position to steal funds.

The difference between fraud and theft by deception.

The main difference between fraud and theft is that theft involves unlawfully taking something. In contrast fraud involves using deceit, lies or other types of dishonesty to con or trick a person or an organization into giving that person a benefit that is not lawfully theirs.

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