Theft vs. Burglary vs. Robbery: What’s the Difference?

An Overview of the Different Types of Theft in Missouri

Did you know property crime occurs every 4.1 seconds in the United States? With numbers like these, understanding the difference between theft, robbery, and burglary is crucial in combating these criminal activities effectively—especially in Missouri.

Theft, burglary, and robbery are all forms of property crime. However, they differ in the way they are defined in criminal law. Let’s explore the details of each offense and how they differ.

The words theft, burglary, and robbery are often used interchangeably. But in Missouri, these are three different crimes that each carry serious consequences. Here’s a look at the differences between theft vs. burglary vs. robbery:

What is Theft?

Theft is referred to as stealing in the state of Missouri. According to the state law, a person commits this crime when he takes property or services without consent and with the intention of keeping them from the owner.

This crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the type and value of the stolen property or services.

Essential Elements of Theft

To be convicted of theft, the following must be true:

  • The offender unlawfully and intentionally took possession of someone else’s property without their consent;

  • The offender intended to permanently deprive the rightful owner of the property (or services); and

  • The offender knew that taking the property was wrong or illegal.

See also: Defining Theft Under Missouri Law

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What is Burglary?

Burglary is very different from theft. The crime of burglary is committed when a person enters a building or home with the intent to commit a crime while inside. It’s important to note that the offender does not need to actually commit a crime in order to be charged with burglary. If he had the intent to commit the crime once inside the building but he never committed it, it’s still considered burglary.

It is common for someone to illegally enter a building with the intention of committing theft, but the crime of burglary does not always involve theft. For example, let’s say someone illegally enters a building in order to vandalize it. This person would be charged with burglary because he entered a building with the intent to commit a crime-even though the crime he planned on committing was not theft.

Burglary is charged as a class D felony in many cases. However, if the offender was armed at the time the crime was committed, it is charged as a class B felony. It’s also a class B felony if someone was present inside the building or if someone was injured or threatened while the burglary occurred.

What is Robbery?

Both robbery and theft involve stealing another person’s property or services. But, the crime of robbery involves the use of force, whereas theft does not. Robbery is a class B felony, but it becomes a class A felony when the use of a deadly weapon was involved. It’s also a class A felony if the victim is seriously injured as a result of the robbery.

Have you been charged with theft, burglary, or robbery? If so, contact The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm, LLC at once. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will stand by your side and fight for your freedom until your case has been resolved. Call our office at 816-205-4125, email us at [email protected] or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation today


Essential Elements of Robbery

For the defendant to be convicted of robbery, the prosecution must prove that the defendant:

  • forcibly took personal property from another person

  • had the intent to deprive the person of their property permanently

  • used force or threatened to use force upon taking the property

  • knew that committing the crime was wrong or illegal.

Critical Differences Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary Charges

The key differences between these three charges are how they’re committed. Theft is the most basic of these three crimes, and it involves taking someone else’s property without their permission or knowledge. Burglary requires entering a home with the intention of committing a crime, while robbery is when the person commits a theft that involves some form of violence.

A criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the differences between these three charges and how the court treats them. If you are accused of any of these crimes, contact an experienced lawyer to protect your rights.

Contact an Experienced Missouri Criminal Defense Lawyer

At the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center, we understand that facing charges of theft, burglary, or robbery can be a frightening experience.

Our experienced criminal defense lawyers are here to help you understand the legal system and to represent your best interests. Contact our office at 816-205-4121, email us at [email protected], or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation today.

We look forward to helping you protect your rights and your future.

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