Using the definition of the crime of burglary that was referred to in this chapter, answer the questions that follow this scenario: An undercover police officer is standing outside a convenience store when two men walk up and stand close enough to the officer so that he can hear their conversation. The officer hears one suspect tell the other that he was going to enter the store and steal a six-pack of beer. He further states that he is going to grab the beer and run out of the store and run to a nearby park and drink the beer. The suspect then opens the door to the convenience store and takes a step inside. In this scenario, when can the officer arrest and charge the suspect? Does he have to wait for the suspect to leave the store with the beer, or could he arrest him when he enters the store? When have all of the elements of the crime of burglary been met?
The officer can arrest and charge the suspect after he takes the first step into the store. If he waits until he leaves the store, he could only be charged with shoplifting. But as he’s entering the store, all the elements of burglary have been met: It is day or night; the suspect has entered the shop with the intent to commit petit larceny. This is burglary. He does not have to actually commit the theft; he just has to enter the building with the intent.