Difference Between Burglary, Robbery, and Theft

The terms burglary, robbery, and theft are often thrown around interchangeably and the difference between the terms are often confused. Although all these crimes usually involve taking property from somebody else, they are all very unique crimes.


First, burglary is the entering of a building or dwelling without consent with the intent to commit a crime. It is often called “breaking and entering” and is often accompanied with other charges, such as theft. There need not be any taking of property for burglary to be charged. There need only to be intent to commit a crime in the building or dwelling before the entry. If the person entering the building uses a firearm or other weapon, the charges will be significantly more serious.

In Minnesota, castle doctrine applies to individuals protecting their property. You can attack a person entering inside your home, but not your property.


Robbery involves directly taken property from a person by use or threat of force and is often accompanied with threats of violence or assault charges.

For instance, mugging would fall under the umbrella of robbery as well as bank robbery. Bank robbery is almost always a federal crime as banks are federally insured.


There is also Theft, otherwise known as larceny. Theft is taking, using, transferring, or concealing another person’s property without consent and with the intent to deprive the owner of possession.

Shoplifting is the prime example of what meets the definition of theft as it is a taking of property without the use or threat of force.

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