Santa: Master Burglar or Innocent House Guest?

Santa: Master Burglar or Innocent House Guest?

Father Christmas fans look away – our legal expert is about to scrutinize his unusual annual antics

By Emma Meakin

I apologize in advance if you're a die-hard Santa supporter. If you're the kind of person who secretly yearns for a snowy trip to Lapland, and you insist on hanging up your stockings on Christmas Eve, then, again, I apologize. For I'm about to cast my legal eye over Santa's behaviour that we've simply accepted year in, year out.

If you believe Santa should never be subject to scrutiny, click away now. Otherwise, let's look at just what he's potentially been getting away with since, well, forever...

The question of burglary

When you apply the Theft Act 1968 to the situation of Santa dropping down your chimney, offering you Christmas greetings, eating your mince pies and walking soot all over the place, you begin to question the innocence of 'good' old Saint Nick.

Burglary is defined by section 9(1)(a) of the Theft Act 1968 as, “the entering to a building or part of a building, as a Trespasser, with the view of stealing, committing GBH or causing unlawful damage to the building".

I admit that the suggestion of violence is going too far, but if you've had a few Victorian tiles knocked from your fireplace as a result of a careless landing, or you never intended to be charitable with your mince pies and brandy in the first place, then Santa might just be answerable to accusations of burglary. Let's delve deeper...

Invited or uninvited?

If Father Christmas is entering your home, isn't he a trespasser? Now, whilst you may invite the Christmas tree seller delivery service into your home and offer them a mince pie for their trouble, do you actually invite Santa?

Well, let me shed a little light on the situation. Permission can be implied; for example you don’t seek permission to pop into your grandma's to leave her a surprise Christmas gift, but you already gained her implied permission to enter when she gave you the spare key. The same probably applies to Santa – when his plump form slides down the chimney, we expect him, and we even welcome him with goodies, indicating that we want him in our homes.

So, no, Santa isn't trespassing. At his simplest, he's a snazzily dressed delivery man bringing you beautifully wrapped gifts.

Any damage done?

Santa may have entered your home but what damage has he done? He isn’t actually intent on stealing your possessions and he certainly isn't there to cause harm or damage to you or your home. However, his reindeer stumbling over your rooftop, chipping tales and tearing thatch is another case – and it's a whole new article.

Prevent Christmas break-ins

On a more serious note, Christmas sees a rise in burglaries. With the numerous visits to family, nights out, carol concerts and festive commitments, we leave our homes vulnerable to the opportune thief. It's your job to ensure that your home is safe: