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The differences between robbery, theft, and burglary

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2021 | Uncategorized

No one wants to think about being a victim of robbery, burglary, or theft in Vista, California. However, many people use these terms interchangeably, most likely due to entertainment. While each state makes them a crime, they differ in legal meaning.


California defines theft as depriving a person of their property by stealing or embezzlement. The criminal uses this property without consent and has no intention of returning it.

Theft doesn’t require a victim to be present or the criminal to steal anything. It can also include stealing services and intellectual property, such as copyright or riding a bus without a pass. California also divides theft crimes into larceny, shoplifting, and petty theft, or stealing items $950 or less.


Robbery differs from theft because a victim is present and there could be a confrontation. The FBI defines robbery as taking or attempting to steal valuable items directly by force.

Robbery typically involves the use of threats or intimidation, such as holding a weapon on the victim. It is similar to theft in the sense that the criminal does not have to succeed at taking anything. While the offender doesn’t have to use great force, minimal force usually must be present.


Old laws defined burglary as occurring at night, but the present definition has broadened. To count as burglary, a victim does not have to be present, but there must be a sign of forcible or attempted entry.

Forcible entry may occur through jimmying a door handle, picking a lock, or breaking a window. As long as criminal intent is present, the burglar doesn’t have to get all the way inside the building. In most states, the building must meet certain requirements to classify as a burglary.

Theft, robbery, or burglary charges come with stiff penalties because of their nature. Defendants may discuss their case with a lawyer to devise defenses.