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Burglary dwelling

Date produced: January 2012

Title: Theft

Offence: Burglary dwelling

Legislation: S9 Theft Act 1968

Commencement Date:

Mode of Trial: Either Way
Indictable only if S111PCC(S)A 2000 "third strike" or Burglary with Violence Para 28c Sch 1 MCA 1980

Statutory Limitations & Maximum Penalty: 14 years

Culpability & Harm

See below

Aggravating & Mitigating Factors

See below

Relevant Sentencing Guidelines (If Any)

Sentencing Council Guidance Issued 16/1/12

  • Step1 Offence Category
  • Step 2 Starting Point and Range
  • Step 3 Factors which indicate a reduction
  • Step 4 Reduction for Guilty Plea
  • Step 5 Dangerousness
  • Step 6 Totality


Category 1 Greater harm and higher culpability

Category 2 Greater harm and lower culpability or lesser harm and higher culpability

Category 3 Lesser harm and lower culpability

Factors indicating greater harm:

  • Theft of/damage to property causing a significant degree of loss to the victim (whether economic, sentimental or personal value)
  • Soiling, ransacking or vandalism of property
  • Occupier at home (or returns home) while offender present
  • Trauma to the victim, beyond the normal inevitable consequence of intrusion and theft
  • Violence used or threatened against victim
  • Context of general public disorder

Factors indicating lesser harm:

  • Nothing stolen or only property of very low value to the victim (whether economic, sentimental or personal)
  • Limited damage or disturbance to property

Factors indicating higher culpability:

  • Victim or premises deliberately targeted (for example, due to vulnerability or hostility based on disability, race, sexual orientation)
  • A significant degree of planning or organisation
  • Knife or other weapon carried (where not charged separately)
  • Equipped for burglary (for example, implements carried and/or use of vehicle)
  • Member of a group or gang

Factors indicating lower culpability:

  • Offence committed on impulse, with limited intrusion into property
  • Offender exploited by others
  • Mental disorder or learning disability, where linked to the commission of the offence

Offence Category / Range  

(Applicable to all offenders)

Category 1           

Starting Point: 3 years' custody  

Range: 2 - 6 years' custody

Category 2          

Starting Point: 1 years' custody   

Range: High level community order - 2 years

Category 3          

Starting Point: High Level CO      

Range: Low level CO - 26 weeks' custody

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

Statutory aggravating factors:

  • Previous convictions, having regard to

a) the nature of the offence to which the conviction relates and its relevance to the current offence; and

b) the time that has elapsed since the conviction - Three strike burglary S111 PCC(S)A 2000 3y / (28.8 months: 124.8 weeks: 876 days.)

  • Offence committed whilst on bail

Other aggravating factors include:

  • Child at home (or returns home) when offence committed
  • Offence committed at night
  • Gratuitous degradation of the victim
  • Any steps taken to prevent the victim reporting the incident or obtaining assistance and/or from assisting or supporting the prosecution
  • Victim compelled to leave their home (in particular victims of domestic violence)
  • Established evidence of community impact
  • Commission of offence whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failure to comply with current court orders
  • Offence committed whilst on licence
  • Offences Taken Into Consideration (TICs)

Factors reducing seriousness or reflecting personal mitigation:

  • Offender has made voluntary reparation to the victim
  • Subordinate role in a group or gang
  • No previous convictions or no relevant/recent convictions
  • Remorse
  • Good character and/or exemplary conduct
  • Determination, and/or demonstration of steps taken to address addiction or offending behaviour
  • Serious medical conditions requiring urgent, intensive or long-term treatment
  • Age and/or lack of maturity where it affects the responsibility of the offender
  • Lapse of time since the offence where this is not the fault of the offender
  • Mental disorder or learning disability, where not linked to the commission of the offence
  • Sole or primary carer for dependent relatives

Minimum Sentence Archbold 5-252:

S111 PCC(S)A 2000. Third Dwelling House Burglary 3y unless there are particular circumstances which relate to any of the offences or to the offender and would make it  "unjust" to do so.

Guilty Plea S144 CJA 2003 [5-78]

The court may give a discount [to the minimum sentence] for a guilty plea provided this does not take the sentence below 80% of the statutory minimum. (28.8 months: 124.8 weeks: 876 days.)

Relevant Sentencing Case Law

Distraction Burglary

R. v O'Brien [2002] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 124 (at 560) [2002] EWCA Crim. 787
Pleaded guilty to burglary. The defendant gained access to a house occupied by a lady aged 81 who was in the early stages of dementia by pretending to be an employee of a water board and stole £200 in cash, a mobile phone and a watch.  Professional burglar targeting vulnerable elderly people. 8 years.

R. v Woodliffe [2000] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 330
Pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary. The defendant went to the home of an elderly lady, knocked at the front door, told her that he needed to check the windows and took £14, a key and a bus pass. A few hours later the defendant knocked at the front door of a flat occupied by a man aged 77 told him that he been sent by the council and the police and stole £30. Professional burglar targeting vulnerable people. 7 years.

R. v Henry [1998] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 289
Pleaded guilty to burglary. The defendant distracted the attention of a woman aged 93 while his brother entered the flat and stole jewellery. The defendant had numerous previous convictions for similar offences. Target old people. 5 years.

R. v McCamon [1998] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 81
Pleaded guilty to one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and five counts of burglary. The defendant on a number of occasions gained access to the homes of old people by various pretexts and stole various sums of money, up to £600. Number of burglaries committed on bail or probation. Systematic targeting of the elderly. 4 years.

R. v. Wright [1999] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 327
Plead guilty and committed for sentence. The defendant approached a lady aged 84 as she returned to her house and asked her to allow him to fill a bottle with water for his car. She allowed him into her kitchen, and he returned several times. As the lady was emptying a bucket for him to use, the defendant stole her handbag and drove away in his car. Genuine remorse "I deserve everything I get." 3 years.


R. v Finney [1998] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 239
Pleaded guilty to burglary. The defendant entered a house at night where he had previously been living and stole a number of items from an unoccupied bedsitting room. Burglary at night merits custody but on facts. Probation.

R. v. Guigno [1998] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 217
Convicted of burglary. The defendant entered a bungalow occupied by couple aged 87 and 91 in the early hours of the morning and entered a bedroom where one of them was asleep. When she woke up and called for help, he left the bungalow, and was arrested outside. The defendant claimed at his trial that he was too drunk to form the intent to commit the offence. Not preplanned but elderly victim and night. 3 years.

R. v Banks [1999] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 231
Pleaded guilty to burglary and committed for sentence. A couple returning to their home in the early hours of the morning discovered the lights were on. The defendant was seen leaving the premises and arrested shortly afterwards with property taken in the burglary. Domestic burglary of an unoccupied dwelling at night. Very bad record for burglary. Co-operate with the police. 4 years.

R. v Comer [2002] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 34 (at 147); EWCA Crim. 1281
Convicted of burglary. A lady who arrived home at 4.20am one morning saw the defendant walk up the drive of her house and found him standing in the hall. She asked him who he was and he said he was with the postman delivering a parcel and left. Nothing taken. Low level professional burglar. 3 years.


R. v Jenkins [2002] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 7 (at 22); [2001] EWCA Crim. 1181
Convicted of one offence of burglary. The defendant broke into a house which the owner had left unoccupied during the day and stole property valued at about £70K. Appalling record. 8 years.

R. v. Hollis [1998] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 359
Pleaded guilty to burglary. The defendant broke into a cottage by day while the owner was away and stole jewellery worth about £1,500. Numerous previous convictions for similar. 4 years.

R. v. Middlemiss [1999] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 62
pleaded guilty to burglary and asked for three further offences to be taken into consideration. The defendant burgled a dwelling house at night while the owners were asleep. The owners woke up and saw a man run off and drive away in a car. The defendant claimed that he had been the driver of the car and that he had not entered the house himself. Night time burglary of an occupied dwelling. 3 years.

R. v Woods [1998] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 237
Pleaded guilty to burglary. The defendant broke into a vicarage where he had previously called seeking money or food. The defendant collected a number of items from the vicarage and put them into a bag, but was found sitting on the floor when the occupier returned. 121 previous convictions. 4 years.

R. v Massey [2001] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 80 (at 371); [2001] EWCA Crim. 531
Pleaded guilty to two burglaries and was committed for sentence. The defendant broke into two hotel rooms at night and stole car keys and a car, and a computer. Akin to burglary of dwellings. 2 years consecutive. Total 4 years.

R. v Salisbury Justices on the application of the Director of Public Prosecutions [2003] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 110 (at 560)
Pleaded guilty before a magistrates' court to burglary of the flat of a lady aged 86. The defendant, age 25, entered the flat through an open bedroom window and a stole a handbag containing £90. 15 previous convictions for burglary. Surrendered himself. Exceptional circumstance compensation order not unreasonable

Professional Burglary:

R. v Palmer and others [2004] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 97
The defendants variously pleaded guilty to burglary, attempted burglary and handling stolen goods. The defendants were concerned in a number of burglaries in which houses were broken into in order principally to steal the keys to expensive motor cars kept by the occupiers of the houses. The area of each burglary would be targeted, entry to the premises was normally forced and the house would often be ransacked. A total of 25 actual or attempted burglaries took place and 22 cars were stolen, of which 18 were subsequently recovered, some of them damaged. Ruthless gang sophisticated well planned and deftly executed offences. 5 years.

Ancillary Orders:

  • Restitution
  • Compensation

Consider Also:

  • POCA

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