Difference Between Burglary and Theft

Criminal law defines a crime. It addresses the offensive behaviors that happen in society and punishes the individual who commits them. The criminal court prosecutes the crimes.

If anyone tries to break the laws that are there, then he has to face the consequences. Two such crimes are- Burglary and Theft. 

Burglary vs Theft

The main difference between burglary and theft is that each of them happens with a different motive. Burglary is a crime in which the person breaks into someone’s property unlawfully with the intent to commit a crime. On the other hand, theft is a crime in which the person steals someone’s property without permission and leaves. In a burglary, the crimes can include assault, kidnapping, and arson. In theft, the crime is just stealing. 

Burglary vs Theft

Entering unlawfully into someone’s property to commit a crime is known as burglary. It involves trespassing and peeping through the window also.

It includes someone’s house or office or any other property that belongs to them. Whether the crime happens during the day or night, it is a crime under the law. 

The act of taking away or stealing the items or property of a person is known as theft.

The law will consider it a crime if the intention of the person committing it is dishonest, and the goods are movable. In the law, theft comes under section 378, and punishment is there for the same. 

Comparison Table Between Burglary and Theft

Parameters of Comparison BurglaryTheft
DefinitionIt is a crime in which a burglar enters or trespasses on someone’s property unlawfully. It is a crime in which someone steals your goods without your permission.
IntentIt happens with specific intent. Usually there is no intent.
TypeEntering, peeping, or trespassing in someone’s house or assaulting them.Taking away someone’s property.
InsuranceA person may get a claim on the damages on property or belongings.The person will get a claim on the goods that he loses.
PunishmentSix months or more than this. It depends on the degree of theft.

What is Burglary?

Burglary is a crime under the criminal law in which someone enters a property to commit a crime. Burglars often prey on flats and houses as they are opportunistic thieves.

They do not leave any opportunity, whether it is an open door or window.

 While entering, they will grab the first thing they see. Burglars do not just steal your items, but they can even assault you or kidnap your child. It all depends on their motive.

Burglars look for those houses that have a good amount of valuables in them. They observe for a few days and then break in. 

  1. According to the studies, a burglary happens once every 20 seconds. People mention this crime more often, yet only a few families have security systems in their homes. 
  2. Burglary usually happens during the day. Burglars do their work in the bright light instead of hiding in the darkness. The most common time when this crime happens is between 12-3 pm. 
  3. This type of crime happens more often in summer. There is usually a rise in burglaries with the temperature rise. They rise to 10-20%. 
  4. In the rural states, you may see more burglaries rather than in metropolitan cities. The burglars usually go for renters and not homeowners. 

What is Theft?

Theft is the act of physical removal of goods or personal items without the permission of the owner. There are several ingredients to it- 

  • The intention of the person is dishonest. It plays a crucial role in this type of crime. Also, if he has taken it permanently. 
  • The property or the item is movable. The ones that are not sticking to the earth are known as movable properties under section 22. 
  • The property is taken away without the consent of the owner. If the owner gives authority, then it is not a theft. 

There are three different degrees of theft- First degree or Class B felony, Second degree and third-degree theft. Petty theft is another name for third-degree theft.

  1. First-degree theft or Class B felony – In this, a person may receive high theft charges if he steals directly from someone. If the value of the stolen goods is $5000 or above, it comes under this category. The thief can get ten years of imprisonment, and he has to pay a fine of $20,000. 
  2. Second-degree theft – It is known as a Class C felony. Under this, the goods shall have a value between $750 and $5000, and the punishment is five years of imprisonment. 
  3. Third-degree theft – In this, the goods should have a value of less than $750. 

Main Differences Between Burglary and Theft 

  • In a burglary, a person peeps, trespasses, or enters someone’s property to perform a crime. On the other hand, in theft, a person takes away someone’s belongings without letting them know. 
  • Burglary involves assault, kidnapping, and stealing. Theft involves- stealing someone’s property or personal belongings. 
  • The criminal court sees burglary as a severe crime, and the punishment is there for the same. But theft is not such a big crime, and they release the person if he pays for the property. 
  • The HPP covers burglary damage but not theft because it is not easy to administer.
  • The punishment for burglary is six months or more. On the other hand, punishment for theft depends on the degree of theft. 
Difference Between Burglary and Theft


You never know when someone can steal your property or break into your house. But you can always prepare yourself for such mishappenings.

A theft can cause heavy financial loss, but you can always cover the risk by taking an insurance policy. If you want to make a claim, you should have proof of the crime that took place. 

The insurance company will compensate you for the damage that took place in your house, as well as your business. There are various policies, and you can choose according to your requirements.

On the other hand, you also have insurance for damage that happens due to burglary. 

This type of insurance covers both fiscal and property damage. If you want the benefit, you have to inform the company about the whole incident before filing for the claim.

Be ready with your documents while going for a claim because the companies do not entertain false claims. This way you can have a little peace of mind. 


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=moG3AwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=burglary&ots=Bj3t7bWkED&sig=WO-LHfSHV_1NtzDjWY8ctbiNMO4

2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=aS-ge9vi-R8C&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=theft&ots=TtvHwR3mOa&sig=docKpP8v8Ni8uE9Ygi0iWwO_n-E

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