When you hear about theft crimes, burglary and robbery may sound similar. Both involve theft but the distinction may be lost on those who do not know the legal jargon. After all, criminal law can be complex, particularly when it comes to theft crimes. Fortunately, Rasmussen College, has made some distinctions to better understand what constitutes burglary and robbery. 

First, to define burglary and robbery, you have to have an understanding of theft. Theft is simply any crime where you take property that does not belong to you without the owner’s permission to take it. So, when does a theft crime become a burglary? 

Burglary occurs when you enter a building without permission and with the intent to commit a crime. Now, this does not necessarily mean that you break into the property. You do not have to use force to commit burglary. Instead, you can walk into an open door if that open door is on private property. You may not even steal anything to face burglary charges. The fact that you entered private property with the intent to steal is all that matters. 

What makes robbery different is the use of threat or force. Robbery has to involve more than one person. Theft does not necessarily need an in-person interaction and burglary often occurs when the victim is not present. However, with robbery, you have to take the property straight from the other person. An example would be a bank robbery or threatening someone and stealing money outside of an ATM. The main distinction between burglary and robbery involves threats, force and breaking into a building.