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Theft, Burglary, and Robbery: What's The Difference?

People often use the terms theft, burglary, and robberyinterchangeably because most people believe they all have to do with taking someone else's property. However, each of these crimes is governed by its own provision and has its own set of possible penalties. Below is a more detailed look at each of these crimes and how they differ from one another.



Theft, also referred to petty theft, grand theft, and larceny is a commonly committed crime. Committing theft means you took someone else's property without their consent and with the intent to permanently deprive them of the use of this possession.

  • Personal Property. Theft involves taking personal and tangible property. Theft usually involves money, tangible goods, or other objects you can physically take.
  • Wrongful. When you commit theft, you are taking someone else's property against their will. If you take someone's property with their permission, this is not theft. However, if you take it by being deceitful and convincing the owner you have control over their possession, this is considered theft.
  • Deprive. When you commit theft you must permanently take a person's possession with the intent to deprive them of it.


Burglary often times involves theft, but you don't have to take someone's property to commit burglary. To commit a burglary, you must unlawfully enter a structure with the intent to commit a crime within it.

  • Structure. Most burglary crimes involve breaking into someone's home. Today, burglary laws are much broader. A "structure" includes not only homes but nonresidential buildings, natural formations such as caves, and temporary structures as well.
  • Breaking to Enter. Burglary is usually associated with the act of breaking down a door or window to enter the structure, however, this is not the case. Burglary can be committed just by just turning the door knob of a door to enter a structure.
  • Entry. You can commit burglary without even entering a structure. If you open a window and reach in to take something that doesn't belong to you, you've committed burglary.


Theft is taking something that doesn't belong to you, but robbery is using force upon someone to take something from them. Robbery is similar to theft in that it involves taking something from someone without their consent. However, it involves other elements in which theft does not.

  • Person. Committing a robbery means you took something from someone else. This means taking something that someone is holding or taking something that is in someone else's control, such as stealing from a safe that you don't have access to.
  • Violence. Robbery usually involves the act of violence. However, this doesn't mean that the person being robbed has to suffer a serious injury. Using any force at all or threatening to be violent when taking something from someone else will suffice.

Theft, burglary, and robbery are considered class A misdemeanors tofelonies with aggravating circumstances such as if there was a weapon involved or if violence was used. There are a number of other factors involved in these kinds of cases. At The Kyle Law Firm, we know the ins and outs of these types of cases and can help you get your charges lifted. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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