You’d think that stealing is theft and that’s all there is to it, under the law. What we’re talking about here, in essence, is taking something that isn’t yours. Depending on the circumstances, theft is classified as either theft, robbery or burglary.

What is Theft?

Larceny, which is popularly known simply as theft, is defined as the removal of property, services or something else of value, with the plan to use it or keep it for oneself.

The main point here is the intent. Was planning involved with the theft of something valuable? Accidental theft does occur. For example, collecting an identical backpack off the rotating carousel at an airport believing it is your bag, taking it home and later returning it once you realize it wasn’t your bag after all isn’t considered theft. Whereas, taking the wrong backpack home accidentally, opening it up, realizing it isn’t yours, but deciding to keep it, would be considered theft.

Other types are the theft of services like hacking into cable TV lines or electrical power lines to use their service, or shoplifting by taking goods from a store without paying for them first.

What is Robbery?

Robbery is the act of taking something either with the use of force or by threatening to use force. When a weapon is used during a robbery, it is called either aggravated robbery or armed robbery. Therefore, under Texas law, the theft of a purse is classified as robbery, whereas use a weapon to persuade someone into giving up their purse is classified as armed robbery.

The essential differentiating factor between a theft and a robbery is not whether a weapon was used during the crime, but whether any person was present in the vicinity or was threatened during its execution. Robberies always involve the taking of something from another person using force of one kind or another.

Just like with theft, the intent is important with robberies. Borrowing a jacket from someone or playing a practical joke by making someone believe their vehicle has been taken is not classified as a robbery.

With any threats of violence, they must be at the time of the criminal act, not as an afterthought. Threats of violence in the future is a different crime altogether.


What is a Burglary


Burglary is also sometimes referred to as breaking and entering (b & e) or housebreaking which is less confusing for people because it implies the act of breaking into a building, rather than the act of taking property.

A burglary is an unlawful access to a building with the intention of committing a crime at the premises. It is often believed that burglary must always include the theft of property, but this isn’t the case. Theft is one possibility, but other additional crimes could include rape, arson, or vandalism. When entering a building unlawfully, but no other crime was committed, then a charge of criminal trespassing may also be likely.


Here are a Few Examples


If you believe that you may be liable to criminal prosecution for theft, shoplifting, burglary or a robbery, then it may help you to see a few examples of the fundamental differences.

Theft of a candy bar from a retail store during opening hours is considered shoplifting and constitutes theft.  It doesn’t directly involve another person.

When a person forces a cashier to open the cash register (or safe) to take money from it, that is a robbery. When a weapon was presented while committing the offense, that is then an armed robbery. Force was used in persuading the employee to open the register or safe.

Breaking into a closed store is a burglary. The theft or destruction of other property while on the premises – an additional criminal act – is what makes the illegal entry into the building a burglary. When being on someone’s property without permission, where one didn’t have to actively break in, that would often be considered criminal trespassing. Partly this is because there was no other unlawful action taken while there.


What’s the Crime?

After hiring a Texas criminal attorney, it is easier to understand what crimes may have been committed. A minor act of theft or trespass could be considered a misdemeanor rather than a felony and punishable by a fine and jail time of under a year. More severe crimes often result in imprisonment for over a year and fines too.

Stealing sometimes results in a misdemeanor or a felony depending on how the theft occurred, what was taken and how it was taken. Shoplifting low-value items is usually a misdemeanor, especially if it is a first-time offense. Robberies are usually a felony due to the severity of the criminal act.

Retaining the services of an experienced Texas criminal attorney is essential when under suspicion or under arrest for theft-related crimes. Be sure to obtain the best legal representation possible.