When Does Theft Become Robbery?

Here’s what you need to know.


November 10, 2020

10-28-blogs 10

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 or personal belongings.

Within that, there are distinct differences qualifying the various terms. . The law treats each crime differently and specifically. For instance, certain events must occur 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 crime.

How does the law define theft?

The point 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 is worth. In this case, the thief would be charged with grand theft (as opposed to petty theft) because the items he stole are high-ticket items.

When theft becomes robbery

Imagine the above scenario, but the homeowner comes home and interrupts 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 as to whether he gets charged with theft or robbery.

Robbery does not have to occur in someone’s home. Other places robbery commonly occurs includes:

  • Parking lots

  • ATM lobbies

  • Taxicabs

  • Public parks

In a robbery, weapons may or may not be used but, if they are, that 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 in order for theft to be upgraded to a robbery.

Monitored home security can protect from both thefts and robberies

Statistics show that homes with security systems are much less likely to experience a robbery or theft. A standalone camera might deter some criminals. However, without real-time response, some thieves may be bold enough to continue a break-in. A monitored home security system increases the probability criminals will turn away.

Are you interested in learning more about monitored home security and how it can protect your home? Contact Brinks Home™ to explore your options.

Allison Clark is a senior writer for Brinks Home. She enjoys educating others on the benefits of smart home security and using technology to simplify everyday life.

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