It is not uncommon for people to confuse legal terms such as theft, larceny, robbery, and burglary. For the most part, they all mean someone stole your valuables and/or personal belongings, right?

Yes, but not quite. The law treats each crime differently and specifically. For instance, certain events must have occurred for a person to be charged with either theft or robbery. Unlawful behavior may begin as a theft but quickly escalate to a robbery depending on the turn of events during the actual crime.

How Does the Law Define Theft?

The part that separates theft from other “stealing” crimes is very specific because it does not involve any person-to-person interaction or contact. Theft, also known as “larceny”, is the most basic of the crimes and the most common. It is associated with the unauthorized taking of someone’s valuables.

For example, say a man breaks the glass on a person’s door, reaches his hand in, unlocks the door, and opens it all the way. His intent is to steal the family’s best silver and their brand-new flat screen TV.  Under the law, this crime would be classified as a theft. The degree of theft depends upon how much the property was worth, in this case, the thief would be charged with “grand theft” (as opposed to petty theft) because they are high-ticket items.

When Theft Becomes a Robbery

Imagine the above scenario but the homeowner comes home, interrupting the crime. The thief pushes the person down and starts to make threats. At this time personal contact has been made which can immediately escalate the crime taking place. The thief has made his intention to take the homeowner’s property through force and threat of violence, turning him into a robber. The thief’s reaction is the main factor that makes the difference an officer charging him with theft or robbery.

Robbery does not have to occur in someone’s home. It can happen anywhere, other places it commonly occurs is (but not limited to) includes:

  • Parking lots
  • ATM lobbies
  • Taxicabs
  • Public parks

In a robbery, weapons may or may not be used but, if they are, it can escalate the crime to a more severe crime, adding the words “armed” or “aggravated” to the charge. A thief-turned-robber can now be charged with robbery whether or not injury took place because the criminal’s intent was to cause injury using force or fear.  However, it’s important to know a certain level of threat and violence may need to be present (i.e. a purse snatcher who says “give me your purse or else” and the person hands it over, that thief would be charged with theft, not robbery).  State laws vary on the degrees associated with robbery and what the criminal can be charged with.

Either Crime, Monitored Home Security Can Protect


A standalone camera might deter some criminals, however, without real-time response, some thieves will be bold enough to continue a break-in. A monitored home security system increases the probability criminals will turn away.

Homes with a security system are 33% less likely to be broken into.

Are you interested in learning more about monitored home security and how it works? Get a free quote from Protect America.