What is the difference between robbery vs burglary? (Discuss Key Differences)

The simple answer to the difference between burglary and robbery is how the crime was committed. Robbery is taking something from someone by force, and that force does not have to be physical. The Burglary definition, on the other hand, is breaking into someone’s house or building — or even tent — to steal their property or commit a crime of any kind. There is also theft, simply taking something that belongs to someone else. Burglary involves entering. You do not have to break in to be guilty of this crime. Walking through an open door of a structure you are not authorized to enter with the intent to commit a crime would still make you guilty of this crime.

Auto theft is another crime in itself, but auto theft can still be part of a burglary or a robbery. Stealing from someone’s car would be considered a burglary, even if all you did was reach into a window that was down. It would become a robbery if you were in your car and someone forcefully took your property.

These three terms are similar, and the common denominator is someone taking someone else’s property. Either way, it is still a crime, no matter how it was done. There are also levels of crime. Some are misdemeanors that mean a small fine for the criminal, and there are levels of felonies that can result in a lot of jail time.

Your home could be burglarized while you are away, or you could be robbed while in your home. Robbing a house would require that you be there. As far as your home goes, burglary vs. robbery depends on whether you were there and whether force is used.

In protecting your home, office, or other property, it is a good idea to think like a criminal to some extent. Understanding terms like robbery, burglary, and theft is more than a mental exercise. Knowing the differences can help you protect your home as you think about what could happen and how to prevent bad things from happening.

Important Facts For Every Homeowner To Be Aware Of

A Burglar

Here are some questions, with answers, that can help you understand the crimes better, and that could help you make your home or business more secure.

What Is Attempted Burglary?

The thing about a burglary is the one doing the burglary does not have to steal anything. Breaking into someone’s home with the intent of stealing is what burglary is. If a person breaks in but for whatever reason, cannot steal anything, that person could still be guilty of burglary.

Attempted burglary would be entering a building or any structure that belongs to someone else with the intent of committing a crime. You do not even have to enter completely. Raising a window and reaching inside for something is considered burglary. Force is also not required. Even entering a house with the door standing open with the intent to steal is burglary. Of course, it is up to law enforcement to prove the intent.

Is Pickpocketing Theft Or Robbery?

Pickpocketing is theft because it is taking someone else’s property. Any theft is stealing, so pickpocketing falls in that category. It could lead to a robbery, but generally, it is not.  Robbery involves using some force, and robbery requires two people to be involved. Normally a pickpocket does not use force or coercion to steal property. In a robbery, the victim is aware of the theft and through physical force or intimidation, is powerless to prevent the crime.

Pickpocketing is essentially theft, which is taking someone’s personal property. The typical pickpocket steals a wallet from an unsuspecting person, who may not know until later. The same would apply if a woman’s purse were stolen from a table in a restaurant, for instance. This is a crime where something is stolen from a person, but the person does not know it has been stolen until later.

However, if a person was caught in the act and used force to complete the theft, that could be considered robbery.

How Serious Is A Burglary Charge?

Burglary is often a misdemeanor. Probation and restitution may be required as punishment. There are levels of burglary, however. First-degree burglary is the most serious, and this is often a felony, and there is a jail sentence issued. If there are additional factors, such as the value of the items stolen or whether there was property damage, other charges could be filed.

Robbery is a more serious crime because another person was involved, and something was forcefully taken from someone. That force need not be physical. The threat of force, or intimidation, is also taking something by force and is a felony.

Is Simple Burglary A Felony?

No, simple burglary is not a felony. The first degree, the most serious, can be a felony and often is if there were other factors involved. But the simple act of burglary at any other degree, like second or third-degree, is a misdemeanor most of the time. Usually, people get probation and are required to pay back the victim as their punishment.

Is Burglary Considered Theft?

Burglary often involves theft, but there can be one where no theft takes place. Burglary is entering someone else’s property without permission to steal something.   

If the thief has entered but is caught and runs away without taking anything, if they were inside the building, that is still burglary. Even if they entered the building and tried to steal something but did not, they could still be charged with the crime. Burglary does involve theft, then, but it is important to note that you can be charged with burglary by just attempting the crime and not succeeding. The essential difference between burglary and theft is entering a structure. You can commit burglary without making a theft.

Can You Be Charged With Robbery And Burglary?

All theft involves robbery or burglary.  Crimes often do not fit into neat categories. It would be fairly simple for a simple burglary to become a robbery, so yes, you could be charged with both depending on what happened. The crimes of burglary and robbery are different, so it is possible to be charged with both and convicted of both from the same incident.

Burglary involves entering someone else’s property unlawfully with the intent of stealing. Whether you steal or not, it is still burglary. Whether you stole or not would only affect the severity of the crime and the punishment.

Robbery is forcefully taking property from someone. That force does not have to be physical. Robbery requires the victim to be there when the property is stolen, while burglary does not have that requirement. Robbery can be armed robbery, but weapons are not required.

A burglary could easily become a robbery if the burglar is discovered and confronted. For it to escalate to robbery, the victim has to be involved.

What Is The State Of Crime In The United States?

State Of Crime In The United States

According to FBI statistics for 2017. burglaries and property theft were up from the previous year. Violent crimes went down in 2017 from the previous year. Larceny or simple theft also declined.  Overall, both crimes were down by a significant amount from 2008.

Robberies

  • 319,356 robberies in 2017, a decline of 28 percent from 2008.
  • Robberies accounted for $438 billion in property losses.
  • Firearms were used 40.6 percent of the time.
  •  Knives were used 8.1 percent of the time
  • Other weapons were used 9.8 percent of the time.
  • In about half the cases, no weapons were used.

Burglaries

  • In 2017 there were 1,401,840 burglaries, down 37 percent from 2008.
  • Burglaries accounted for 18 percent of property crimes nationwide.
  • Burglaries of residential property took 67 percent of all burglaries.
  • Burglaries resulted in $3.4 billion in losses.

References:

  • https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2017-crime-statistics
  • https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2018-crime-statistics

Conclusion

Crime is down from about ten years ago, but FBI stats show it increased slightly in 2017. This could be because people are becoming more aware and taking home security seriously. Understanding the differences between robbery vs. burglary vs. theft will help you understand how to make your home more secure.

They are all different crimes, so it is important to consider the differences as you secure your home or business from all of them. Understanding robbery versus burglary would affect the type of technology you would choose to protect your home or business.

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About John Fox

ebbb364ee14268bd3b77496cab3d1d78?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Alarm Technician (CAT)
Education: Denver Security Academy
Lives In: Denver Colorado

John Fox has worked as a security consultant in Denver for over 20 years.
With Safe Now, he's taken those two decades of experience and decided to share it to help people online make the right security decisions for their businesses and families.

John writes security tips and guides, product recommendations, and prevention guides.

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