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Posted by tonyb on October 13, 1999 at 15:15:58:

A Burglary took place in a Departmental Store in the night, after the
owners had left by securing the premises with a lock on the entrance door and
three locks on the iron shutters in front of the door.Next morning when the
owner came to open the store he found that all his locks were missing and in
their place similar new locks were substituted which couldn�t be opened with
the set of Keys with the owner. Suspecting foul play , both the Police and
the Insurance Company were informed and only in their presence the new locks
were broke open and premises entered into. Inside as suspected , a major
theft of valuables had taken place by force opening a Partition door,
breakopening showcases, Counters, Glass Cupboards and Cash box. Visible
signs of force was everywhere. A Claim was lodged on the Insurance
Company for the loss incurred,who after through investigation and a gap of over
15 months repudiated the claim by a letter which simply stated " we are
sorry to inform you that the Competent Authority has reputed the above noted
claim in view of the loss being not a result of burglary as defined in the
policy ". The definition given in the Burglary Insurance Policy issued to us
read as under:

"For the purpose of this policy the term 'HOUSEBREAKING ' or 'BURGLARY'
shall mean:
(a) Theft of property from the premises described in the schedule to
this policy following upon felonious entry of said premises by violent
forcible means or
(b) Theft by a person in the premises who subsequently breaks out by
violent or forcible means"

The Insurance Company has not disputed the genuineness of our claim
nor the quantum of the amount claimed. The police has also confirmed the
theft incident. The Insurance Company however has denied any liability on
itself on the grounds that the no visible physical force was applied on the
entrance of the premises and since the old locks were found missing
there was no way to prove that they were not opened by original or duplicate
keys. A court case has been initiated against the Insurance Co. by the
owner, which is likely to come up soon.


(a) Legal definition of 'BURGLARY', 'THEFT', ' FELONY', 'VIOLENT',
and 'FORCE' - (with source).
(b) Legal position whether the definition given in the Insurance policy
can be challenged ?
(c) Can the interpretation of any word (in this case Burglary) be
altered/changed/restricted or twisted to suit ones advantage.
(d) Any Rulings or suggestions that can help in my case .

Burglary: At common law, the crime of burglary consisted of a breaking
and entering of a dwelling house of another in the nighttime with the
intent to commit a felony therein. The modern statutory definitions of
the crime are much less restrictive. For example, they commonly require
no breaking and encompass entry at all times of all kinds of
structures. In addition, certain state statutes classify the crime into
the first, second, and even third, degree burlary.

A person is guilty of burglary if he enters a building or occupied
structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof, with the
purpose to commit a crime therein, unless the premises are at the time,
open to the public or the actor is licensed or priveleged to enter...

Your legal action should determine the facts of the case as applied to
the contract.

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