Types of Theft: Burglary vs. Robbery
Burglary is when someone steals your property and robbery is when someone threatens or hurts you and takes your property. A burglar just takes your stuff while you’re not around, whereas a robber might threaten you with a weapon or even assault you.
But those aren’t the only types of theft. What’s larceny and how does it compare to theft? Or how about extortion? We’ll go over all of it.
Common types of theft
What is burglary?
According to the FBI, burglary is “the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. To classify an offense as a burglary, the use of force to gain entry need not have occurred.”1
So basically, you don’t have to be at home to be burgled. You don’t even have to see the burglar—you just come home and your stuff is gone. Or wake up and your stuff is gone. Or go into your garage and your stuff is gone.
Burglars aren’t violent—they just take your property and go.
What is robbery?
Theft is no picnic no matter how it happens, but robbery is especially traumatic because it involves force and fear.
The FBI says robbery is “the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.”2
If someone threatens you or actually hurts you, all while stealing your stuff, then that’s a robbery.
What is larceny?
This is an easy one: larceny is just another word for theft. Burglary, robbery, or any event where someone takes your property counts as larceny.
We’ll give you the definition for this one, too: the FBI says larceny is “the unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession or constructive possession of another.”3
If someone steals your bike from your front yard, that’s larceny. If someone nabs your backpack on the train, that’s larceny. Any type of stealing comes under that umbrella term.
What is extortion?
Extortion is a bit of a tricky one because it comes in lots of different forms. Blackmail, threats against your family members, deception—all of them can count as extortion.
It’s basically any time someone gets something from you by lying or forcing you to give it to them under duress. It’s different from robbery in that it doesn’t involve outright violence, and it can include non-violent threats (like burning down your house or exposing your personal information).