The Differences Between Robbery and Burglary (And How You Can Prevent Both)

Robbery and Burglary

Understanding the Differences Between Robbery and Burglary

People often use the words robbery and burglary interchangeably. In reality, however, the two words do not describe the same crime. While we are not legal experts and the definitions of both words may vary around the world, today we will look at how each is typically applied within the United States.


Burglary does not necessarily mean that a theft has occurred. Also known as breaking and entering, a burglary involves any instance where an intentional and illegal break-in has taken place. Where people often become confused on the differences between robbery and burglary is that a theft often does occur during a burglary (and is frequently the intent of such crimes), but other crimes may also happen during a burglary which will classify it as such even if nothing is taken.

In trying to differentiate between the two, it may help to remember this definition from the Bureau of Justice Statistics: Burglary is defined as unlawful of forcible entry or attempted entry of a residence.


Robbery differs from burglary in a few key ways. For one, it involves either an outright theft or an attempted one. During such a theft (or theft attempt), a robbery also involves intimidation or force. This force may involve a weapon or may simply involve physical force. Essentially, robbery involves some degree of violence or the threat of violence during a theft. For this reason, robbery also involves a victim’s presence during the crime whereas a burglary does not necessarily involve a victim being present.

Once again, differentiating between a robbery and burglary may seem confusing, but noting these key points about robbery may help:

  • Robbery requires a victim’s presence
  • Robbery requires some sort of intimidation or force
  • Robbery involves theft whereas burglary may not
  • How to Avoid Both Robbery and Burglary

    Conversations about the differences between robbery and burglary may be a bit unnerving. More important than understanding these definitions, however, is understanding how to avoid both types of crimes. Educating yourself on topics of personal and home security are the first steps in keeping a safe distance from robbery and burglary events.

    Being proactive in protecting your home from break-ins and other criminal activity will also help. No matter how safe you may believe that your neighborhood or your home is, the fact of the matter is that robbery and burglary can happen anywhere, to anybody and at any time. A monitored home security system is a necessity for anyone truly serious about reducing the likelihood of being victimized by one of these crimes.

    What Have You Learned From Robbery and Burglary Crimes?

    Hopefully, we’ve helped to highlight the key differences between robbery and burglary events in the U.S. If you live in another country where these crimes are defined differently, we hope that you’ll share this information with our readers in the comments section below. One thing is for sure, both crimes can be devastating. So, if you’ve ever been a victim of a robbery or a burglary, we hope that you have recovered from such an ordeal and that you will take a few moments to share any valuable lessons learned through your experiences.

    Prev 1 of 1Next