Difference between Theft and Robbery

Key Difference: Theft is when a person unlawfully takes another person’s belonging with the intention of not returning it. A victim need not be present at the scene for this crime. Robbery is defined by the law as the criminal tries to take something of value from a person by force or intimidation. For this to happen, a victim must be involved.

Theft and Robbery are both crimes that involve depriving a person of a personal belonging; this similarity confuses people and causes them to use these words interchangeably, but these words are different from each other. While, both include taking someone else’s property, the differences arise in the manner it is done. Let’s look at both the terms separately.

Theft is when a person unlawfully takes another person’s belonging with the intention of not returning it. A victim need not be present at the scene for this crime. Merriam Webster defines theft as, “the act of stealing; specifically: the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it.” The stealing is done fast (stealing and running away) or in stealth mode (stealing without the person realizing it at the very moment). In many jurisdictions, theft and larceny are assumed to be synonymous. Theft is also used as an informal shorthand term for certain crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, shoplifting and fraud. Depending on the object stolen and the region, punishment can include penalty, fine or jail time.

Robbery is defined by the law as the criminal tries to take something of value from a person by force, intimidation and force. For this to happen, a victim must be involved. If a person is not involved it cannot count as a robbery. Robbery is defined as, “the act or practice of robbing; specifically: larceny from the person or presence of another by violence or threat.” Robberies can include single victim or multiple victims, such as in bank robberies. Robbery most commonly includes weapons such as guns, knives, etc. The word rob is derived of Germanic origin, from Common Germanic “raub” meaning "theft". Depending on the seriousness of the crime committed, punishment for robberies can range from 5 years to 40 years.

Image Courtesy: kaplansky.com, cashmanagement.co.uk

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