The Judge Says – Help! I’ve Been Burgled!

I continue to go back and pick up articles I wrote when I was the Staff Judge Advocate at Fort Riley.  Even though they are over thirty years old, they still have some relevance (sometimes very little).

Help! I’ve Been Burgled
March 5, 1982

I’m going to give you a very quick course in Criminal Law 101. People are always saying they were robbed, when, in fact, they had something stolen from them when they weren’t even present.  Or, even worse, they will tell someone they have been robbed, when, in fact, they have been burgled (Help, Help, I’ve been burgled!).  On second thought, tell them you have been robbed.

The difference will become clear shortly.  The barracks thief who takes someone’s stereo and sells it is guilty of larceny (he wrongfully took someone’s property with an intent never to return it).  Now the thief who hocks the stereo and holds on to the pawn ticket will tell the court that he was going to get the stereo back on pay day and return it (Hee hee).  Thus, no intent to permanently deprive.  If he can convince the court, then he is only guilty of wrongful appropriation.

The rat who picks up a GI walking down JC Blvd. and takes his wallet at knife point is a robber.  A robber is someone who commits larceny by the threat of or use of force or violence.  The victim who is walking down JC Blvd. late at night is called a dummy, pigeon or mark (or all of the above).  “A fool and his money” – I forgot how it goes, but you get the picture.

The crook who breaks into someone’s home at night to commit certain crimes (such as larceny) is a burglar.  He burgles. (“Help, Help …”)  If it is not at night, or, no one lives in the building, then it is not burglary.  We call it housebreaking.

The only test to be given on the above material involves JC Blvd.  If anyone is walking alone at night on that road, they fail the course.

Written be PJ Rice at

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