Approximately 29,500 cases of burglary occur in South Carolina annually. It is the second most common type of property crime in the state. For the courts to decide that a burglary has occurred, three elements must be true.
Breaking and entering
The first element that has to be true is that the burglar used some force to enter a structure. The structure does not have to be locked. The burglar can use their pinkie finger to finish opening a door that someone left ajar. Furthermore, the burglar does not have to stand inside the structure physically. For example, they can push a window up a little and reach through it.
Building or occupied structure
The place where the burglary occurs must be designed to hold people or animals and be closed to the public when the burglary takes place. For example, a person taking a soda off a store shelf without paying for it when the store is open commits shoplifting, but if they pick the lock to take the same soda while the store is closed, they commit burglary.
The burglar must break into the building and steal something. For example, assume for a moment that someone claims to work for a floor service to gain entry to a closed museum to see a new exhibit, but they do not take anything while inside. In that case, the person’s criminal defense could be that no burglary occurred because nothing was stolen. However, a burglary occurred if the same person decided they needed a pen on the way out and took one from an office desk.
These three conditions must be met for a burglary to occur.