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Robbery vs Burglary | Definitions, Key Differences & More

Although robbery and burglary may sound the same, they’re actually different crimes. Robbery occurs when a person takes someone else’s property by force or fear, whereas burglary refers to the act of entering a structure with the intent to steal or to commit another crime.
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What is Robbery?

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program [1], robbery is defined as taking or attempting to take anything of value from someone by force or threat of force or violence, and/or by putting the victim in fear of force.

The specifics vary state by state, but there are typically 2 types of robbery: armed robbery and strong-arm robbery. An armed robbery includes the use of a weapon, while a strong-arm robbery occurs when someone attempts to use their own physical strength to commit the crime.

Related Article: Is Robbery a Felony?

What is Burglary?

Also known as breaking and entering or housebreaking, burglary is typically defined as the unlawful entry into almost any structure with the intent to commit a crime inside. No physical breaking and entering is required to commit burglary; the offender may simply trespass through an open door.

Unlike robbery, which involves the use of force or fear to obtain another person's property, there is typically no victim present during the commission of a burglary.

What is Theft?

Theft is the taking of another person’s personal property with the intent of depriving that person of the use of their property. This is also referred to as larceny.

Theft is typically divided into grand theft and petty theft. If the value of the stolen goods is over a certain amount, then the crime may be elevated to grand theft. The type of goods stolen may also affect whether the theft is grand or petty.

What's the Difference Between Robbery and Theft?

In most cases, theft takes place during a robbery. However, theft and robbery are 2 separate and distinct crimes. If you were to steal someone’s bicycle and the owner wasn’t present, that would legally be considered theft but not robbery.

If you were to steal the bike while someone was riding it, that would constitute robbery with an accompanying theft. If you were to threaten the bike rider with an injury during the commission of the crime, but then not steal the bike, that would be robbery but not theft.

Related Article: What Is the Difference Between a Tort and Criminal Law?

What's the Difference Between Burglary and Theft?

Burglary is a crime against a place, meaning that a burglar enters or remains somewhere illegally. Burglary may include theft, but the burglar may be there for reasons other than stealing things. All that’s legally necessary for a burglary to take place is illegally entering a structure with the intent to commit a crime or other offense.

Related Article: Larceny vs Burglary Explained

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