Tampa Bay Foreclosures – Is it Burglary when you steal your own stuff?

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Technically, the law describes burglary as a crime where a person enters either a structure, conveyance or curtilage with the intent to commit a crime therein. A structure could be a house or business or shed; a conveyance is usually a car; and curtilage, is the surrounding area of the house that is fenced in.

Contrary to popular belief, the crime one is intending to commit inside of the structure does not need to be theft. It can be criminal mischief, such as the time a kid had a party while his parents were away and all the other kids used their roller blades to ride all over the expensive hardwood floors. Or it can be smoking pot in a shed.

Sunday’s article in the St. Pete Times describes the foreclosure mess and the opportunities it creates for criminals. The article says people enter the vacant homes and strip them of anything valuable, squat in the houses, or are using the vacant homes to hide their stolen property.

Interestingly, this article from the Palm Beach Post. describes a very common scenario, which is NOT A CRIME. A homeowner who was about to be foreclosed on, allowed several men to go into the home and take appliances, cabinets, toilets, copper wire, etc. The men were later charged with burglary. The Court said that this was NOT A BURGLARY, because the owner of the home gave them permission to take the stuff. It seems that because the house had not yet been foreclosed, it was not yet owned by the bank and therefore the men could not be convicted of burglary since the actual owner of the home allowed them to take the property.

Since I’m forever in search of a bargain on a house, I’ve looked a tons of foreclosed homes. Most of them are completely wrecked, missing appliances, door handles, pool filters, anything of value is gone. Which makes the “bargain” not so good when you have to put $50,000 into the home to make it liveable. I guess people think that if they are losing all the equity in their homes, why bother saving anything for the bank. I guess they don’t think about the fact that they got a mortgage for a home they could never afford. And I guess the banks were too busy making money to realize that half the people they were giving mortgages, could never afford to pay. Who is the real criminal here? Click here to know.


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