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Are Porch Pirates Burglars?

Posted on in burglary

IL defense lawyerThe holidays are over, but that has not stopped porch pirates from scooping up items left on porches. In a recent case, a porch pirate was caught on a security camera stealing a unicorn from the porch of a Wicker Park home in the early morning hours. Unlike most porch pirates heard of in the news, the unicorn was not a package delivered by a postal service or courier. Instead, a two-year-old living in the home had simply left it on the porch.

This type of crime is clearly against the law. However, this is one area of law that is not as clear as others. Are porch pirates considered burglars in the eyes of the law? Or, are they charged with another crime, such as petty theft?

Definition of Burglary in Rolling Meadows

According to 720 ILCS 5/19-3, residential burglary in Illinois is defined as when a person enters a dwelling, or any part thereof, without permission with the intent to steal another person’s property. The statute also states that anyone convicted of residential burglary is guilty of a Class 1 felony. In Illinois, a conviction of residential burglary can carry sentences of four to fifteen years in prison.

That penalty may seem harsh for porch pirates, particularly those charged with stealing something as small as a stuffed animal, as in this most recent case. However, due to the language of the statute and that it includes the phrase, “or any part thereof,” it is possible that porch pirates could be charged with residential burglary.

Definition of Petty Theft in Rolling Meadows

Law enforcement and the state prosecution both understand that residential burglary is often a harsh sentence for those that did not really break into a home and steal property. It is for this reason that some, including those charged with smaller thefts, are sometimes charged with the lesser charge of petty theft.

Petty theft, according to 720 ILCS 5/16-0.1, is the theft of property with a value of $500 or less. This is considered a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, those charged could face up to one year in county jail and up to $2,500 in fines. Most often, those charged with smaller thefts will face this charge if they did not actually steal from the victim’s person, and the value of property stolen was less than $500.

This is also true in the case of porch pirates, including the latest story involving the man that stole the toy unicorn. While law enforcement has not caught or charged the person, a police report was filed for petty theft in the amount less than $500.

Get the Proper Defense with a Rolling Meadows Theft Lawyer

While petty theft is a much lesser charge than residential burglary, those convicted will still face jail time and high fines. Even more, they will have a criminal record that will follow them around for the rest of their lives and prevent them from gaining housing, employment, and other opportunities. It is for this reason that anyone charged with petty theft should contact a skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer for help. If you have been charged with any type of theft in Rolling Meadows, call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at 847-394-3200. We understand Illinois law and will use it to prepare a defense that can get your charges reduced, or dismissed altogether. Contact us today for your free consultation so we can begin working on your case.


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