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Burglary vs Robbery: What’s the Difference?

During police reports or home insurance claims, it’s important to know the differences between each type of crime. It’s also crucial to understand the signs of burglary vs home invasion to protect your home.

In this article, we’ll explain the differences between burglary vs robbery, burglary vs theft, and burglary vs home invasion.

What is Robbery?

There are two classified types of robbery: strong-arm robbery and armed robbery.

Strong-arm robbery is any robbery carried out without the use of a weapon. It’s known as strong-arm robbery as the person uses their own physical strength.

Armed robbery is any robbery that involves the use of a weapon, like a knife, gun, or other instrument.

What is Burglary?

Burglary is when someone unlawfully enters a property to commit a crime, like theft or assault. This is different from breaking and entering, which refers to the action of breaking into a home without stealing anything.

break-in footage captured by AlfredCamera
Break-in footage captured by AlfredCamera.
AlfredCam on a glass table

Is Burglary a Violent Crime?

Burglary is not always a violent crime because the term “burglary” only refers to breaking into a property with the intent to commit a felony.

What is Theft?

Theft is taking any property that doesn’t belong to the person taking it. For example, stealing from a bank is theft, as is stealing from a stranger’s home.

Theft doesn’t just refer to objects. Taking property, money, trade secrets, intellectual property, or even someone’s identity could be theft. It is not considered a violent crime.

In terms of the law, theft is classified in different degrees. Grand theft means the theft of something valuable, like home assets, vehicles, or money. Service theft refers to when someone uses a service without permission or without paying for it.

What is a Home Invasion?

A home invasion is a violent crime. It involves entering a home unlawfully when someone is home to steal something and with the intention to commit an attack. The attack could be verbal or physical, or both.

Theft during a home invasion could be money, objects, trade secrets, or passcodes. 

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What’s the Difference Between Burglary and Home Invasion?

The terms “burglary” and “home invasion” are often used interchangeably, but the intention behind each is different: a home invasion has violent intent behind it, a burglary doesn’t.

A burglary is carried out to steal possessions, like car keys, wallets, designer clothes, or money. Burglars prefer to break into a property when no one is home, but as many as 28% of burglaries happen when someone is home, according to AlfredCamera.

Burglary tends to be an opportunistic crime, so it’s not usually premeditated.

What’s the Difference Between a Robber and a Burglar?

Burglary only refers to theft committed on a property, like a home or business premise. Therefore, a burglar is someone who breaks into a home and steals something.

Because robbery refers to any theft regardless of location, a robber tends to be someone who steals something from a person in public.

What’s the Difference Between Burglary and Theft?

Burglary only refers to a crime (i.e., breaking in) against a building, whereas theft can occur to both a person and a place

A burglary includes theft or other crimes, like assault or illegal surveillance.

What’s the Difference Between Robbery and Theft?

The main difference between robbery and theft is that robbery is a violent crime, whereas theft isn’t.

If the criminal uses or shows a weapon to steal an item from a person, this is a robbery.

Stealing a phone from someone’s bag when they aren’t looking is considered a thief.

What are the Penalties For Robbery, Burglary, Theft, and Home Invasion?

Because robbery, burglary, theft, and home invasions are different classifications of crime, varying sentencing applies in the US.

CrimeClassificationConsidered a Violent Crime?Penalty
RobberyTheft using force or the threat of force against the victimYes3-16 years
BurglaryIllegally entering a property without permission No – but can be1-20 years
TheftStealing an item from a person or property, with or without forceNoUp to 1 year
Home InvasionUnlawfully entering an occupied home with violent intent YesUp to 30 years


The key difference between burglary vs robbery is that burglaries occur on a property, rather than to a person in public. Robbery is also a crime committed by force or the threat of force, which usually means the criminal is armed or commits assault on the victim.