The Basics: Theft, Burglary and Robbery
You’ve no doubt heard of theft, burglary and robbery, but do you know the difference between these three offenses?
Although they are often used interchangeably, the definitions and severity of these charges vary significantly.
Theft is defined by the taking of someone else’s property where no person-to-person contact took place. Force, intimidation or coercion must occur to be charged with robbery. For example, stealing a purse left in a shopping cart would be theft, while physically taking the purse from another person would be robbery.
Burglary involves illegally entering someone’s property with the intention to commit a crime. No property has to be stolen and no person-to-person contact has to occur.
What Happens to Someone Who’s Charged
The severity of the charges can vary greatly. Some theft charges are classified as misdemeanors if the value of the stolen property is relatively low. Charges and sentences become more severe if physical harm or threats are made.
Robbery charges are usually classified as felonies, no matter the value of the items stolen. Burglary charges can be misdemeanors or felonies, often depending on whether the home or business was inhabited at the time of the break-in.
How to Protect Yourself
Many experts recommend installing a security system to protect your home. Keep expensive items locked up when you can. Lock every gate, window and door when you leave.
To protect yourself while away from home, always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t walk down the street while staring at your phone, and if you’re traveling, avoid posting your location to social media if you have a public profile.
If you or your home have been robbed, call 911 immediately to report the incident. Look for witnesses, don’t tamper with evidence and remain in a safe location until help arrives.