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What is the difference between robbery and burglary?

By May 12, 2017Theft

Some people use the terms robbery and burglary interchangeably but the terms actually refer to different crimes and each has its own legal definition and penalties.

Robbery and burglary are the two crimes that comprise taking possession of something owned by someone illegally without the permission of the owner. But the two are differentiated by the circumstances that surround each of them. The legal definition of theft involves a number of categories in addition to the crimes of robbery and burglary. These additional theft crimes include: larceny, theft and extortion.


The definition of the act of robbery by law is to take or try to take something that is valuable and belongs to someone else by utilizing acts of intimidation, force or threat. Mostly, robbery is thought of as a crime committed by bank robbers or guys who hold up a convenience store, but actually, some of the states have laws according to which any student threatening to beat up another student who refuses to give his lunch or money also falls under the category of robbery. The crime of robbery can take place with a single victim who must be present on the crime scene. The victim must have gone through a feeling of being harmed or suffered a physical injury. Robbery can take place with multiple victims as well, for example, bank robberies where a large number of victims are available. The elements of the crime of robbery include:

  • The act of taking money or property from someone else
  • The act is done directly
  • It does not involve taking permission from the person
  • The act is done with the intent of possessing money or property permanently
  • It involves the use of force or intimidation


The definition of the act of Burglary by law is the unlawful entry to a facility or a structure to commit the crime of theft or a felony. The act of burglary does not involve the presence of a victim. In order for burglary to take place, the structure being unlawfully entered into can include a number of different types of buildings. These buildings can be business offices, personal homes and even garden sheds. The crime of burglary does not include crimes that are committed on cars. An example of burglary is someone breaking the lock on the back door of your house and stealing your television. The typical elements of the crime of burglary include:

  • Unlawfully entering any building that can be a home or any other facility
  • Entering the building involves the intent of committing a felony or stealing something

There are four types of burglary:

  • Completed burglary – This is a type of burglary in which an individual, who is not authorized to enter a facility, gains the entry with or without force
  • Forcible entry – This type of burglary involves the use of force to gain entrance for example, breaking a window
  • Unlawful entry without force – This type of burglary involves no use of force
  • Attempted forcible entry – This type of burglary involves the use of force in an attempt to gain entry

If you have been a victim of robbery or burglary, you need to inform the authorities and contact a lawyer immediately.

Author Bio:

Holmes Law Office for real property advice, preparation of documents, mortgages, title opinions & land contracts and bankruptcy consultation.