Did a Big Mouth Billy Bass Foil Would-Be Burglar?
The heroic singing efforts of a Big Mouth Billy Bass may have prevented a burglary from taking place at a Minnesota fishing store, the store's owner claims.
In case you're unfamiliar with the Big Mouth Billy Bass, it's a novelty singing fish decoration that you hang on your wall. It belts out songs and flaps its tail when someone walks by. Often given as a gag gift, Billy Bass' big mouth may have scared away a would-be intruder from the store after hours, according to ABC News.
What's fishy is that media reports have been calling the alleged crime an attempted burglary. Legally speaking, is that correct?
Attempted Burglary Defined
While Billy's singing may have thwarted a criminal, it's unclear whether calling the crime an attempted burglary is legally accurate. The fishing store owner told ABC News that the front door of his shop was kicked in, but nothing was missing.
Like several other states, Minnesota defines a burglary as entering a building without consent with the intent to commit a crime while inside. The key element in the crime is that the person had the intention of committing a crime, like stealing money, at the moment he breaks into the building.
However, a person can also be convicted of only attempting to commit burglary. In Minnesota, if you intend to commit a crime and take a substantial step towards doing so, you can be charged with attempt.
So if the person who kicked in the fishing store's door had the intention of stealing something before Billy Bass opened its mouth, then he could be arrested for attempted burglary. However, since nothing was actually stolen and reports don't indicate why he kicked in the door, it's just speculation at this point. Without knowing the intruder's intent, it's unlikely that he'd be convicted of attempted burglary.
Was This Just a Trespass?
If authorities do catch the guy, however, charging him with trespass could be plausible. Criminal trespass occurs when someone intentionally steps foot on another person's private property without permission. The person trespassing must know that the property was off limits to him.
In this case, the person who kicked in the door probably knew that he wasn't allowed to enter a locked store after hours, and he didn't have the store owner's permission to be there. So he could get charged with trespassing if caught -- and potentially criminal damage to property for kicking in the door.
Most people get a laugh out of Big Mouth Billy Bass, but the intruder probably didn't find it as funny -- poor Billy was found on the floor the next morning, apparently knocked down by the intruder, according to ABC News.
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- Legal How-To: Keeping Trespassers Off Your Property (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)