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  1. #1

    Default Is It Illegal to "Case" a House

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Wisconsin

    Hello again,

    Is it illegal to "case" a house? For purposes of this question, I am defining "case" as observing a property to learn the habits/schedule of the inhabitants and neighbors with intention of using this knowledge to aid in a crime, such as burglary. Also for sake of discussion, assume that the person casing the house is doing so without actually trespassing on the property, such as from the street or public sidewalk, and is not capturing images through windows. If the person casing a house suddenly decides not to proceed with any crimes on the property and just goes on with their life, did they commit any crime solely by doing some research? What if they instead are noted to be acting suspiciously and the police confront them while they are casing the house?

    The reason I'm wondering is that if you witness behavior outside your residence that appears to be people taking pictures of the house or keeping a close eye on things, would it be a good idea to call the authorities to investigate? Or will they just tell you to stop watching Charles Bronson movies?

    Thanks again

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    7,406

    Default Re: Is It Illegal to "Case" a House

    Simply observing what is going on from a place you are authorized to be (your own property, public property, some other property with the owner's permission) is not a crime.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    7,646

    Default Re: Is It Illegal to "Case" a House

    While it is not illegal to observe a home, suspicious behavior should be reported to the police. This way, regardless of whether they choose to investigate, there is a record of the activity taking place should something happen down the line. Of course, it could be the po-po doing the surveilling for whatever reason.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: Is It Illegal to "Case" a House

    "In and of itself" as the law refers to at times for facts, no, it is not illegal. It could provide an officer a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity may be "afoot", approach you, so that may leave you between a rock and a whirlpool. If you decide to answer questions and slip the tongue, it is possible you could be charged with "Attempt", depending on the state definition of attempt.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Tacoma, WA
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    1,532

    Default Re: Is It Illegal to "Case" a House

    Simply observing activities is not a crime. Doing so to facilitate a criminal act COULD be a crime, depending on the specific actions, intended crime, and statutory wording. However, proving that intent is going to be very difficult (absent a confession) until the intended crime is actually attempted. An officer may be able to articulate enough reasonable suspicion to lawfully detain and question the suspicious person, but (again absent a confession) it is unlikely that any further action would result.
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