The Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary Criminal Charges

St. Charles robbery burglary defense attorneyContext is important in almost any situation. A word or phrase that is used interchangeably in everyday conversation cannot necessarily be used in the same way in the legal system. One such example of this is the use of the words theft, robbery, and burglary. Though many people use these terms to mean the same thing during personal conversations, these refer to separate criminal charges when used in legal situations. There are specific differences between the three crimes, and they each come with their own punishments. This is why it is important to know the differences if you have been charged with any of these crimes. 


According to the Illinois Criminal Code, a person commits theft when he or she:

  • Obtains unauthorized control over property; or
  • Uses threat or deception to obtain control over property; or
  • Obtains control over property, knowing the property was stolen; and
  • Intends to permanently deprive the owner of the use or benefit of the property

Sentencing for a theft charge depends on the situation surrounding the theft, how much the stolen property was worth, and whether or not the property was taken directly from a person. Charges can range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class X felony.


Robbery is defined as the taking of property by the use of force or the threat of force. Aggravated robbery occurs when a person indicates to the victim that he or she is armed with a dangerous weapon, even if he or she is not actually armed. Charges for robbery can range from a Class 2 to a Class 1 felony, and a conviction will typically result in prison time and hefty fines.


Burglary occurs when a person enters a building, watercraft, aircraft, or motor vehicle with the intent to commit a felony or a theft. If the perpetrator did not cause damage to the building or structure they entered, the crime is classified as a Class 3 felony. If damage was caused to the building or structure, the crime is classified as a Class 2 felony. If the burglary was committed in a school, day care center, or childcare facility, the crime is classified as a Class 1 felony. 

Contact a St. Charles Criminal Defense Lawyer

While the terms theft, robbery, and burglary are often synonymous in normal conversation, they are not synonymous in the criminal defense world. A skilled Naperville theft crimes defense attorney can help you understand your options for defense if you are facing theft, robbery, or burglary charges. At Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC, we understand the complexities of these cases and the defense strategies that will help you achieve a positive outcome to your case. Contact our office today at 630-232-1780 to schedule a free consultation.