What is the difference between robbery vs burglary? (Truth)

The simple answer to the difference in 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. Burglary definition, on the other hand, is breaking into someone’s house or building — or even tent — for the purpose of stealing their property or committing a crime of any kind.  There is also theft, which is 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 an 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 property. Either way, it is still a crime, no matter how it was done. It is important then, to protect your home and your property from those that would steal something. 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 basically depends on whether you were there and whether force is used.

While the differences are interesting, it is perhaps more important to do what you can to prevent it from happening. A good starting place is to find the best outdoor wireless security camera system with DVR. This will give you a record of what happens and could help if there is a burglary or even a robbery. The best driveway alarm is also a good idea, as it can let you know someone is in the area, or too near your home. To protect yourself from a home-robbery find the best keyless deadbolt lock and keep it locked. A smart home will offer you the ability to lock or unlock doors, turn on and off monitoring systems and so forth, from your cell phone no matter where you are.

In protecting your home, or your 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.

Good home security will keep most bad people out, will notify you of people on the property, and can provide a record if something bad does happen. This is why it is good to have a lock and a warning system to prevent theft, locks to prevent robbery, and having a security camera keeps some burglaries from happening. You can still have a theft regardless of what you do, but having protection in place makes it less likely. Having the email address and phone number of your law firm handy is also a good idea, as is having a solid attorney-client relationship. There are some rights reserved when you have solid contact with attorneys and local law enforcement.

An 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 actually 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 is not able to actually 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 completely enter. 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 what the intent was.

Is Pickpocketing Theft Or Robbery?

Pickpocketing is theft because it is taking someone else’s property. Pickpocketing is considered larceny – which is taking someone else’s property. Any kind of theft is larceny, so pickpocketing falls in that category. It could lead to a robbery but generally, it is not.  Robbery involves using some kind of 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 larceny, which is taking someone’s personal property. The typical pickpocket steals a wallet from an unsuspecting person, and that person may not know until later that his pocket has been picked. The same would apply if a woman’s purse was stolen from a table in a restaurant for instance. This is a crime where something is stolen off 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, which means there will be no jail time. 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 damage to property, 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 with the intent of stealing something.   If the thief has entered, but is caught and runs away without taking anything if he or she was 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 actually happened. The crimes of burglary and robbery are different crimes, so it is possible to be charged with both and convicted of both from the same incident.

Burglary involves entering someone else’s property unlawfully7 with the intent of stealing. Whether you actually 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.


  • 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.


  • In 2017 there were 1,401,840 burglaries, which was 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.


  • 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


Crime is down from about 10 years ago, but FBI stats show it increased slightly in 2017. This could be because people are becoming more aware and taking home security more seriously. Understanding 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 think of the differences as you make your home or business secure 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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