Skip to Content
Call Us Today! 312-436-0638

The Differences Between Theft, Burglary & Robbery


Being arrested for theft, burglary, and/or robbery can be a scary and confusing time. These three terms often get used interchangeably, but they actually refer to three separate criminal charges. Understanding the differences between them can be crucial in building a defense and avoiding serious consequences that may be unfair to you. In this post, we’ll explore the key features of each charge and what sets them apart.

What Is Considered Theft?

Theft, also known as larceny, involves taking someone else's property without their permission or consent. This can include anything from shoplifting to embezzlement.

The most important element of theft is that there is no use of force or threat of violence. This means that a person can be charged with theft even if they didn't physically take the object themselves but instead aided and abetted in the theft. The severity of the theft charge depends on the value of the stolen property, with higher-value items leading to more severe charges.

What Is Considered Burglary?

Burglary is the crime of entering a building or structure with the intent to commit another crime. The subsequent crime is usually theft in most cases.

Unlike theft, though, burglary involves illegally entering a location and can involve the use of force or breaking and entering. Even if nothing of value is stolen, a person can still be charged with burglary simply for entering a building with the intent to commit a crime. The severity of the charge will depend on factors such as whether the structure was a dwelling (like a home) or a commercial building.

How Is Robbery Different from Theft & Burglary?

Robbery is similar to theft in that it involves taking something that belongs to someone else, but it differs in that it involves the use of force or intimidation. Robbery is a much more serious offense than theft, as it can result in harm to the victim and therefore has harsher penalties. A person can be charged with robbery even if they did not themselves use force. For example, someone may face robbery charges if they aided and abetted in the crime in any way.

Robbery is different from burglary because it doesn’t require illegal entry into a location; that said, someone may be charged with burglary if they illegally entered property and attempted a robbery.

Contact a Lawyer for Help

Understanding differences between theft, burglary, and robbery is crucial for anyone facing criminal charges related to property crimes. While they are often used interchangeably, they refer to very different offenses with different elements.

If you were arrested or are facing criminal charges, it’s critical to work with a competent criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the nuances of the law and build a solid defense. The Law Office of Steven Fine can help by providing you with the personalized legal support you need.

Contact us online now to request a consultation.