Appeal by the State from Brannon, Judge. Order entered 19 May 1981 in Superior Court, Cumberland County. Heard in the Court of Appeals 12 January 1982.
Hill, Judge. Judge Becton concurs. Judge Hedrick dissents.
The parties stipulated, and the trial judge gound, the following facts concerning "the fenced-in area" in which defendants are alleged to have broken or entered:
[The area] is located at 3505 Camden Road in Fayetteville and is partially surrounded by a wire fence 5'10" to 6' tall. This fence runs along the north and eastern sides of the area in question and extends partly along the western and southern sides. In the southwestern corner of the area there is a metal building. The fence comes to within one or two inches
of the northwestern and southwestern corners of this building, which defines the remainder of the western and southern sides of the area in question. Within this area are spaces for parking cars and trucks, stacks of wooden utility poles, what appear to be transformers and other items of electrical and industrial equipment. Camden Road, a paved road in Fayetteville, runs along the western border some distances from the area in question. The only sign upon the fence or building is the number "3505".
This is a case of first impression in this State. The sole question for our review is whether a "fenced-in area" is a "building" within the meaning of G.S. 14-54, "[b]reaking or entering buildings generally."
G.S. 14-54 reads as follows:
(a) Any person who breaks or enters any building with intent to commit any felony or larceny therein shall be punished as a Class H felon.
(b) Any person who wrongfully breaks or enters any building is guilty of a misdemeanor and is punishable under G.S. 14-3(a).
(c) As used in this section, " building " shall be construed to include any dwelling, dwelling house, uninhabited house, building under construction, building within the curtilage of a dwelling house, and any other structure designed to house or secure within it any activity or property.
(Emphasis added.) Thus, we must decide if a "fenced-in area" is "any other structure designed to house or secure within it any activity or property." Id.
Criminal statutes must be strictly construed. In re Banks, 295 N.C. 236, 244 S.E.2d 386 (1978); State v. Ross, 272 ...