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McIntosh Law | Advocates for The Accused Since 1993

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Phone: 941-306-3230

What is the difference between theft, burglary and robbery?

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Many people use the terms theft, burglary and robbery as if they were interchangeable.

Each term carries its own distinct meaning and legal implications.


The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports that in 2021, the crime rate in the state reached a 50-year low. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the difference between different types of stealing.

Theft refers to the act of taking someone else’s property without their permission with the intention of permanently depriving them of it.  It does not always involve physically taking something; it can also include fraud or deception, like identity theft or embezzlement. Any situation where one person unlawfully obtains another person’s property constitutes theft.


Burglary involves unlawfully entering a building or dwelling with the intent to commit a crime inside. The element that makes a crime a burglary is the unauthorized entry. It does not require stealing anything. The mere act of breaking into a place with the intent to commit a crime suffices. Burglary can involve crimes other than theft, such as vandalism or assault.


Robbery takes theft a step further by involving force, threat or intimidation to take someone else’s property. Robbery entails confronting the victim directly. This could involve anything from mugging someone on the street at knifepoint to holding up a bank with a firearm. The key distinction here is the element of violence or the threat thereof.

Taking another person’s property without their permission is a crime no matter how it happens. How a thief does it affects the criminal charge they will face.

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