2. Typologies and Patterns of Crime

2.4 Non-Violent Crimes: Definitions and Patterns

Dr. Jon Heidt

Breaking and Entering

Breaking and entering (formerly referred to as burglary) involves entering someone else’s property with the intention of committing an indictable offence (e.g., theft or destruction of property). In 2019, the rate of break-and-enter violations was 429 per 100,000 population, which is a 1% reduction from the previous year (Moreau et al., 2020). Burglars tend to look for homes that are unoccupied for long periods of time. While they prefer to work at night, burglars will target homes during the day if they know many of the people in the area are at work (Felson & Eckert, 2018).

Police departments often see spikes in break and enters during the summer months when people are away on vacation and because they are more likely to leave windows and doors open (Lauritsen, 2014). Research indicates that these offenders do not necessarily target wealthy homes—in fact, they may see these as targets with too much security that would attract unwanted attention from police. Instead, they tend to look for homes in middle upper-class neighbourhoods that may lack security but still contain valuable items, such as money, jewelry, or electronics (Wright & Decker, 1994).


There are two levels of theft identified by the Criminal Code of Canada. There is minor theft, which includes theft of property up to $5,000, and major theft, which occurs when an offender steals over $5,000 in property. Finally, there is a special category of theft for motor vehicles. In 2019, rates of theft per 100,000 population were 1,129 for theft under $5,000, 57 for theft over $5,000, and 232 for motor vehicle theft; these rates are virtually unchanged from 2018 (Moreau et al., 2020). When compared to other forms of crime, women tend to make up a large proportion (but still the vast minority) of theft cases at 33% (Schmalleger & Volk, 2014). Most theft, especially minor theft, is based on easy opportunities and can often be remedied through crime prevention tactics, such as installing alarms or lights (Felson & Eckert, 2018).

Fraud is a special category of theft that involves some sort of deception or trickery to gain material benefits. For example, using someone’s credit card without their permission is a form of fraud and many examples of telephone scams involve fraudulent activities (Boyd, 2015). Incidents of fraud in Canada increased in 2019, up to 378 from 351 incidents per 100,000 population in 2018.

Identity Theft

Identity fraud occurs when an offender takes a person’s personal information (e.g., credit card information) and uses it to make purchases in that person’s name or evade law enforcement through use of their identity. Identity theft occurs when a person steals another person’s identity with the intention of committing an indictable offence that includes fraud or falsehood. This form of theft can range from mail theft to database breaches. The rate of identity theft stayed about the same in 2019 compared to 2018 (Moreau et al., 2020). Because these crimes often go undetected, are difficult to prosecute when detected, are relatively low risk, and have the potential for a large payout, they have become increasingly common in the last ten years, especially amongst organised crime groups.



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Introduction to Criminology Copyright © 2023 by Dr. Jon Heidt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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