New industries lead to new logistical problems. Some new industries have more problems than others, though, and Illinois’ new cannabis companies have recently discovered that they are incredibly vulnerable to burglary losses.
In fact, during the first month of legal cannabis sales alone, nearly $40 million worth of weed was stolen in Illinois.
From basic shoplifting to torch-wielding burglars in Logan Square, people are finding cannabis companies all too easy to target. The cash-heavy nature of the industry doesn’t make it any less tempting.
As a result, cannabis businesses are beginning to install significant security systems to prevent this kind of theft. However, security may not be the primary deterrent for cannabis theft. The legal penalties are enough all on their own.
Burglary: A Serious Illinois Offense
Burglary is a broader crime than many realize. It’s not just the theft of an object. In fact, burglary is more a crime of intent than one of action.
Illinois defines burglary as entering someone else’s property unlawfully while intending to commit another crime. This crime is a class 2 felony, carrying up to seven years in prison and fines up to $25,000. Actually managing to commit another crime such as theft is irrelevant. All it takes is the intent.
One key component of a burglary classification is being on the property unlawfully. Stealing from a property while you are there legally is only considered theft, not burglary.
For a crime to be classified as a burglary, the person must first have entered the property without permission or remained on the property after their permission to be there expired. That crosses the threshold into unlawful.
Even then, though, just breaking into a property doesn’t quite meet the line to qualify as burglary. That leaves the crime at a lower level of criminal trespassing, which is typically a Class A misdemeanor.
However, intending to commit another crime such as theft or some other felony raises the crime to the level of burglary.
How Burglary Methods and Amounts Affect Penalties
Intent is the keystone of a burglary charge. If a potential burglar is arrested before committing another crime, they can still be convicted of burglary if intent can be proven. One of the easiest methods of proving intent is finding tools of burglary on someone’s person.
The alleged blowtorch-wielding burglar in Logan Square is a clear example of how the tools used can point to intent. The supposed burglar carried a blowtorch with them while accessing the cannabis storage facility after hours.
There are very few reasons a person might need a blowtorch capable of cutting through steel on an average day. Should it be shown that they brought the blowtorch with them, it appears more likely that they entered the building with the intent to commit a crime.
If the burglary is successful and property is stolen, then the potential penalties are doubled. Theft is its own crime and tried in conjunction with burglary.
The alleged Logan Park burglar is accused of having stolen $200,000 worth of property, which is a class 2 felony based on the value. So, if a suspect is charged, they will likely be charged with two separate class 2 felonies, potentially doubling their time in prison and their fines.
As you can see, burglary is a more complex crime for the legal system to process than one might initially believe. Proving intent is a difficult matter.
Anyone charged with a burglary offense should reach out to an experienced attorney to work on minimizing their potential charges right away.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.