Burglary: The Victim and the Public
Published: December 1978© 1978
204 Pages, 6.69 x 9.61 in
Each year in Canada residential burglary accounts for the loss of more than 40 million dollars in property and cash. It is a crime which carries high maximum penalties, but it is often not reported to the police, and its perpetrators are seldom caught, prosecuted, or incarcerated. The situation demonstrates the widening gap between public demand for protection and the capacity of traditional law enforcement methods, focusing on deterring or rehabilitating the criminal, to provide it. This study focuses on the crime, its incidence and nature, and its victims, their experiences and reactions to it and their attitudes toward traditional and innovative sentencing practices. The analysis is based on a systematic survey of more than 1,600 households in Toronto, 5,000 police-recorded burglaries, census data, and interviews with convicted burglars.
Although people are concerned about residential burglary, relatively few take precautions against it. It involves intrusion into personal territory and fear of personal violence, yet personal injury rarely occurs. Although its annual cost in dollars is high, individual burglaries involve relatively small amounts. It is typically an amateur’s crime, triggered by opportunity rather than design. The use of police, criminal justice, and imprisonment, the authors suggest, has been costly, inappropriate, and ineffective. Their own recommendations include decriminalization of non-violent crimes, mandatory security in apartment buildings, and compensation to victims through state-subsidized insurance.
The implications of this study will be of interest to policy makers, police, architects, urban planners, insurers, and the security industry as well as to all those concerned about the design of our society.