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The legal implications of possessing burglary tools for “future use”

Persons who commit burglary don’t always do so empty-handed. Because of security measures such as locks and doors, offenders turn to tools to break into buildings.

While it’s understood that burglary is a crime in Virginia and the rest of the U.S., did you know that possessing burglary tools is also a punishable offense? This blog will explore the state’s rules on possession, what counts as a burglary tool by law, and how possession of tools compares to a charge for attempting a burglary.

Possession of burglarious tools

According to state law, it’s a Class 5 felony to possess any tools, implements or outfits to commit burglary, robbery or larceny. The rules also state that prosecutors can use the information that someone who possesses these tools and isn’t a licensed dealer as evidence that the person had the intent to commit burglary.

If a court convicts a person of possessing burglarious tools, they face up to 10 years of prison and $2,500 in fines.

What counts as a burglary tool?

By law, a burglary tool is any device instrument, or object that is used or intended to be used to commit a burglary or to facilitate the commission of a burglary. A court and jury can view the following objects, especially given context, as burglary tools:

  • Bolt cutters
  • Ceramic spark plugs and “ninja rocks” that can easily break tempered glass
  • Crowbars and other similar tools
  • Hammers
  • Lock picks
  • Master keys
  • Screwdrivers
  • Torches and other similar tools that can melt steel

For a person to face charges, the prosecution must prove that the person had the items intending to use them in a crime in the future. This can be difficult, as intent is a highly subjective matter.

Notably, while possession of burglary tools is a Class 5 felony, actual burglary offenses start at a higher Class 3 felony, with the degree and punishments increasing depending on certain other factors.

Burglary is a serious offense, but so is possession of tools with the intent to commit burglary. If you face charges, don’t underestimate what a conviction would lead to and speak with a legal professional.