25 per cent of offenders repeatedly sentenced for burglary

Media release

Friday, 20 December 2019

The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council has identified that a quarter of offenders sentenced for burglaries between 2005 and 2017 were repeat offenders.

Sentencing data examined between July 2005 and June 2017, highlights that 25.6 per cent of burglary offenders have been sentenced for multiple burglary offences.

Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council Chair, John Robertson, said the Council’s latest Sentencing Spotlight on Burglary investigates offences commonly referred to as ‘breaking and entering’ or ‘unlawful entry’.

“When you hear someone was caught ‘breaking and entering’ what is usually being referred to is a burglary offence,” Mr Robertson said.

Burglary is when a person enters – either with their whole body, part of their body, or with an instrument like a screwdriver – a building or a structure someone else lives in, and either commits or intends to commit an offence like stealing, assault or wilful damage.

In its entirety, the Spotlight covers sentencing outcomes from July 2005 to June 2018 and provides insights into offender characteristics, recidivism, penalties and sentencing outcomes.

“Our reportprimarily focuses on those 20,695 cases where burglary was the most serious offence (MSO) at sentencing,” Mr Robertson said.

“Almost two-thirds of adult offenders sentenced for burglary (MSO) received a custodial penalty, which is a much higher proportion when compared to the 9.6 per cent of adult offenders who were sentenced to a custodial penalty across all offences in Queensland.

“The most common sentence handed down for burglary was imprisonment, with almost half of adult offenders receiving a sentence of immediate imprisonment.”

Mr Robertson said the average length of imprisonment was 1.5 years, and the longest imprisonment sentence was for 14 years.

“The maximum sentence of 14 years’ for burglary can rise to life imprisonment if the offender commits a serious offence while in the building, or is convicted of any of six circumstances of aggravation which include committing the offence at night, using or threatening violence, or being in company with someone else,” Mr Robertson said.

“In a Magistrates Court, where 85.9 per cent of burglary cases (MSO) were heard, the maximum penalty is capped at three years’.”

The Council’s research has found, on average, offenders sentenced for burglary (MSO) are much younger at the time of committing the offence (22.9 years) than the average age of all offenders sentenced in Queensland (31.0 years). The data also reveals that 86.6 per cent of offenders sentenced for burglary are male with the oldest person sentenced being 70.

“Males are more likely to commit a burglary offence, but the number of female offenders has increased over the data period, rising from 167 offenders in 2007-08 to 301 offenders in 2016-17.”

“In comparison to all offences in Queensland, there is also a higher proportion of young offenders committing burglary offences, with a third of burglaries committed by offenders who were sentenced as a child,” Mr Robertson said.

“One in five children sentenced for burglary received a custodial penalty, with probation and community service orders also being common orders made for these offences.

“The statistics show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people committed 8,103 of the burglary offences during the 13-year period, accounting for more than a third of the overall offences.”

The Council’s research shows that November and December had the highest frequency of burglary offences in Queensland, with an average of 4.5 and 4.6 offences committed each day throughout the months respectively.

Mr Robertson said Queensland burglaries were most frequently committed on Mondays, with 13.9 per cent of the crimes taking place at the start of the week.

The Sentencing Spotlight on Burglary (PDF, 1.0 MB) is available free for download.

Media inquiries

Jane Coates
Media and Engagement Manager
0459 887 077 /  (07) 3738 9498