Burglary vs Robbery: The Crucial Difference & Facts

Robbery vs. Burglary: The Differences

Robbery vs. Burglary

The difference between burglary and robbery is in the scope of the crime. Generally, burglary refers to forceful entry into a building to cart away valuable properties. It doesn’t matter if the burglar does not take any item. As long as there is an illegal entry violating another’s privacy, it is a burglary. It is a property crime.

Robbery, on the other hand, is a violent one. It refers to an attempt to take away any person’s valuables with the threat or use of force. For it to take place, a victim has to be present. Offenses like mugging and purse fall into this category if there is the use of violence.


Burglary Definition (What is Burglary?)

It is the act of gaining unlawful access into a structure such as a home to commit theft or felony. It constitutes a violation of one’s privacy. The burglary definition does not cover when the burglar inflicts force or violence on a person to commit the offense. Many assume that only a home can fall victim to an attack, which is, at best, a half-truth. 

It can happen at other structures such as the office, railroad car, barn or stable, ship, apartment, hotels and guest houses, etc. According to the FBI, motor stealing is in a separate category of its own. However, local policy and laws may classify motor break-ins as a burglary offense.

It has a low clearance rate of 12.9%, which means that the chances of recovering stolen properties are low. The statistics improve when it involves a unique item. 

Before classifying any offense as burglary, it has to meet the following requirements.

  • Unlawful entry into a structure: Illegal access occurs when an individual breaches the privacy policy by entering into a private building without receiving permission from the property owner. It also covers public buildings if the misdeed takes place during closing hours.
  • Forcible entry into a structure: It refers to attempts to gain access into a building that is not through the accepted entry platforms such as open doors or open windows. The forceful entry includes breaking windows, forcing open doors, and other structures to access the inside of the building. 
  1. Attempted entry: Many folks think that the burglar must enter the premises to steal before it becomes an offense. According to the FBI, once a part of the body enters the building, it is wrong. Also, if the tools for breaking in get into the building, it is an offense. 
  2. People’s presence does not matter: If people are present when it occurs (maybe sleeping or in another part of the building), it is still a criminal offense. If there is no one in the building and unlawful entry, the offense still stands. 
  3. Crime Intent: Once the intent to commit the crime is clear and proven, it falls under the classification. It does not matter if the person does not cart away with anything; once there is an intent, it violates the law.
  4. If theft or felony occurs: It can also happen with this offense type.

Some classify burglars according to the type of structure they unlawfully enter. There are commercial and residential burglars. 

Robbery Definition

It involves the use of force, violence, or threat to steal items of value from people. It may or may not involve the use of weapons in the process. The FBI tracked the most used weapons for operations to include strong firearms, knives, and other dangerous weapons.

Robbers often get lengthy-sentences in court if found guilty and in possession of firearms. 

Before classifying any misdeed as robbery, it has to meet the following requirements. 

  1. Attempt to cart away with another’s property illegally: The attempt does not have to be successful for it to count as an offense. If a person tries to mug or snatch a purse and fails, it counts as a criminal offense.
  2. Stealing of a valuable item: Any items stolen with force or violence is an offense. It may not have monetary value; the value can be purely sentimental. The article can be an old family watch that is not worth much. As long as an item got taken with force, it falls into this category. 
  3. Property of another taken: Stealing the property of another from non-owners with force falls under this category. For example, robbers attack a bank safe room and cart away with money and other valuables belonging to their customers. 

As long as the criteria get fulfilled, it fits the name tag. It can fall under violent violation if the robber does not steal it directly from the non-owners or owners custody. 

  1. Stolen from a person: It only fits the criteria if an actual person or victim witnesses the event (have properties stolen from them in their presence). If the person is not around when the stealing happens, it is not a robbery but a burglary.
  2. Presence of force or threat: Threat of violence or the actual use of force must occur for it to fall under this tag. For example, if a robber shows weapons such as guns or knives to scare the victim without hurting, it threatens violence. Actual use of force to disarm people of their properties falls into this category.

Theft Definition

It involves the illegal taking of another’s property without their consent or the intention to steal their belongings. It is another term that gets in the whole burglary vs. robbery interchanging mix. Both involve some elements of theft. It is a common offense in the world; shoplifting is a popular form.

Different local laws have distinct classifications on what may constitute it or not.

What the Difference Between Robbery and Burglary Mean for Victims? 

Difference Between Robbery and Burglary

The difference between robbery and burglary have implications for their victims when seeking justice through criminal investigation or the court of law. It is vital because the compensation the victims will get is distinct for both. The former will attract a more severe sentence for the robber and a more significant settlement for the victim. 

On the other hand, the latter will result in a more lenient punishment for the burglar and a smaller compensation for the victim.

What Every Victim Should Do After Being Robbed

Robberies cause a lot of trauma, pain, and despair for their victims. It is the best time not to act emotionally but to follow a clear path to recover, search, and identify the perpetrators quickly. 

Here are some steps every victim should do immediately after an experience.

  1. Call the Police: Kickstart the legal process by contacting the local police responsible for that jurisdiction where it occurred. This move will help protect the victim and ensure they are no longer in danger. The quicker the cops kickstarts their investigation and search, the higher the chance of recovering the stolen property.
  2. Leave the scene or stay in a safe place: Avoid touching anything that can give a trace of evidence about the perpetrator. If it is a building, leave temporarily or move to an unaffected room till law enforcement arrives to avoid tampering with valuable evidence. 
  3. Seek Help: Ask neighbors or close-by strangers for help to the hospital in the case of serious injuries. Seek professional assistance to help deal with the trauma.
  4. Make a note quickly: Jot down everything that happened, including the time it happened and what items got stolen or damaged in the process. It will be helpful for law enforcement and filing claims with insurance companies.

Contacting the police immediately, providing details about what happened, and the criminal description (if possible) is the best way to assist in solving the case. 

What Every Victim Should Do After Being Burgled

Burglaries are painful events that can be traumatic for their victims. Knowing what to do will boost law enforcement’s odds of locating the burglars and recovering stolen properties. 

Here are some steps to do immediately after an experience.

  1. Call the Police: Dial 911 or the local police contact number immediately to start a criminal investigation. Before the police arrive, do not touch the scene to avoid wiping out or tampering with helpful evidence.
  2. Write Everything that Happened: Take a paper or use a phone’s notepad to write down what happened. Make the notes detailed, leave no information out, no matter how little. When the police arrive, they will ask questions about what happened. The earlier jotting will help in asking their questions. 
  3. Contact Insurance Companies: If there is pending insurance coverage on the property stolen, right after contacting the police, contact the insurance company to check if the event is in the insurance package. If it qualifies, the insurance company will also send an investigation team to review the claim’s validity. 
  4. Seek Professional Help: Burglaries are traumatic and painful events, especially when it involves items of significance, value, and importance. Seek professional help to recover from the shock and pain of the event entirely.

How to Prevent Burglary or Robbery Attacks

Prevent Burglary or Robbery Attacks

There are numerous tips available to reduce the likelihood of individuals receiving attacks from robbers and burglars. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that they will work. However, it is better to stay on the safe side and reduce the risk than stay on edge. 

Robbers and burglars do not pick out anybody; they search for simple targets. It is unlikely they will attack a home or person with a high alert or security system in place. 

Some of the tips that can help prevent these attacks include:

  1. Install a Home Security System: The system’s cost is the primary reason people shy away from using it. Compared to expensive items like jewelry and smartphones, a home security system is cheap. It helps identify burglars who break into homes while the owners are not at home with clear video evidence.
  2. Keep Expensive Items Away from Passersby View: Thieves always try to find out what is inside a home before they attack. When the door, window, or gate is open, what can passersby see? Are items of value within their sight reach? Keeping these valuable items from passersby’s different views is a sensible decision to prevent thieves’ attacks.
  3. Pay Attention to Surrounding: The majority of victims fail to keep track of their environment. Petty thieves and robbers look for targets who are not paying attention. Once a victim’s guard is down, it is an invitation to attack. 

Penalties for Different Crimes

Penalties for Different Crimes

The penalties for theft, robbery, and burglary are different. Theft carries the least type of punishment based on the value of property stolen and the category it falls under. The penalty includes returning the stolen item or repaying its value. Based on its severity, it can also attract jail term, community service, and probationary periods. It could also result in charges for other offenses if the perpetrator breaks into the building or uses force. 

The penalties for burglary may include simple misdemeanor, fines, community services, and probation periods. In severe cases, jail terms may also be applicable – Larceny vs. Burglary shares similar penalties.

Robbery, on the other hand, is a felony and the severity of punishments depends on the harm inflicted on victims. Thefts that involve deaths and severe injuries have high penalties such as length of jail terms, huge compensations, and fines.

Burglary Vs. Robbery Stats

Burglary Vs. Robbery Stats

All the statistics point to robbery as the number one violent crime people fear in 2021, while burglary is the number one for property misdeeds. The more information people know about these two prevalent vices in society, the better chance they will avoid them.

Burglary Statistics in the U.S.

  • An attack happens approximately every 25.7 seconds.
  • 1,230,149 burglaries happened in 2018; approximately 67% are on residential buildings.
  • The average loss per attack is $2,799.
  • It accounts for 17.1% of property crimes.
  • It happens more in the middle of the day and the summertime.
  • It happens more in rural areas than in metropolitan areas. New Mexico is the state with the most burglaries.
  • New Hampshire has the lowest rate.
  • Renters suffer more attacks than homeowners.

Robbery Statistics in the US

  • 282,061 robberies happened in 2018.
  • The average loss per attack is $4,600.
  • The District of Columbia (D.C) is the state with the highest number of robberies.
  • Iowa has the lowest rate.

FAQ Section

  • Is Burglary or Robbery Worse?

    Both involve the stealing of another’s individual property. Burglaries include breaking into a structure in the absence of the victims. On the other hand, robberies involve force, threat, intimidation, or violence to steal properties in the victims’ presence. It is worse because it can cause injuries or death to the victim.

  • What Is the Most Common Type of Robbery?

    There are different types of robberies; they include street, bank, aggravated, and armed.

  • What Is the Number 1 Crime in America?

    Property crime is at the top, with the largest number of American incidents in 2021; the next is violent crime. There are different types of property misdeeds, such as theft, larceny, and others. Larceny is the number one offense in America and the most common property crime.

Burglary, Robbery, and Larceny: What Next?

These three vices are by far the most prevalent in the United States, accounting for more than two-thirds of the total crimes committed. Protection from them involves getting the right security architecture, guarding homes, installing security cameras, buying insurance coverage, and general vigilance.
Keep in mind that swift action immediately after attacks goes a long way in helping fish out the preparators.