Theft vs Robbery: Difference and Comparison

Several types of illegal acts have become part and parcel of human life. Despite strict legal actions against such acts, they still continue to take place.

Theft and robbery are two punishable acts of the modern era. While the two may seem similar, they starkly contrast several characteristics. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Theft is taking someone else’s property without their consent, while Robbery is taking someone else’s property using force or the threat of force.
  2. Theft can be petty and grand, while Robbery is always considered a serious crime.
  3. Theft is committed when the victim is absent, while Robbery is committed in the victim’s presence.

Theft vs Robbery

The difference between theft and robbery is that theft does not involve the use of intimidation or force to steal the property or services of another individual. On the other hand, robbery involves the use of force or intimidation to steal the property or services of another individual. The word theft is derived from the German word thēofth. On the other hand, the word robbery originates from the Old French word robberies.

Theft vs Robbery

Theft refers to the act of taking control of the property or services belonging to another individual without the approval of the individual.

Theft may be an outcome of feelings of anger, anxiety, compulsion, grief, power, control issues, depression, low self esteem, peer pressure, or to satisfy a sense of entitlement. 

Robbery refers to an act of acquiring the goods or services of an individual by the use of force. By definition, a robbery is performed with the intent to deprive the original owner of the property.

There are several different types of robbery. The most significant ones are armed robbery, aggravated robbery, mugging or highway robbery, and carjacking.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTheftRobbery 
Use of ForceTheft does not involve the use of intimidation or force to steal the property or services of another individual. Robbery involves the use of force or intimidation to steal the property or services of another individual. 
Presence of Victim Theft can take place without the physical presence of the victim.Robbery takes place only when the victim is physically present. 
Forms Forms of theft include shoplifting, fraud and embezzlement. Forms of robbery include armed and strong armed robbery.
TypeTheft can be categorized either as a misdemeanor or a felony.A robbery is always categorised as a felony.
Origin of Word The word theft is derived fromthe German word thēofth.The word robbery originates from the Old French word roberie. 

What is Theft?

Theft refers to the act of taking control of the property or services belonging to another individual without the approval of the individual.

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Synonyms of theft include embezzlement, blackmail, larceny, and extortion. The practice of theft is illegal in several countries, including California, Canada, England, and Wales.   

Theft includes several elements. Some of them are unauthorized taking, using, or keeping of the goods or services of another individual without their consent.

Psychologically, there are both economic and non-economic motives for theft. Depending on the intention behind an act of theft, the thief can be subjected to punishments of various sorts. 

A person may choose to carry out theft in response to his feelings of anger, anxiety, compulsion, grief, power, control issues, depression, low self-esteem, peer pressure, or to satisfy a sense of entitlement.

Work-related theft may be an outcome of drug addiction, greed, economic need, rationalization, opportunistic temptation, or any negative emotional issue. 

Shoplifting is a commonplace form of theft today. However, there are multi-facet reasons for this act. Some of the causes of shoplifting include association with a shoplifting ring, theft due to need, compulsive acts of theft, and thrill-seeking.

To conclude, theft remains an illegal act that may be a result of varying intentions of the person committing it. 

theft

What is Robbery?

Robbery refers to an act of acquiring the goods or services of an individual by the use of force. By definition, a robbery is performed with the intent to deprive the original owner of the property.

Ideally, robbery refers to a form of theft accompanied by assault. Robbery is seen as a felony in countries that consider it a far more offensive crime than theft.

The main differentiating factor between robbery and other forms of theft is the use of force in the former act. There are several different types of robbery.

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The most significant ones are armed robbery, aggravated robbery, mugging or highway robbery, and carjacking. Armed robbery refers to the use of robbery that involves the use of a weapon such as arms or pistols. 

Aggravated robbery refers to a robbery that makes the use of a deadly weapon to threaten people. Highway robbery is the act of robbery that occurs in public places such as roads, parks, and parking lots.

In addition, carjacking refers to the act of stealing a car from the victim. Slangs for robbery include stick-up and blagging. 

Several films, literature works, and video games revolve around the theme of robbery. Some popular films on robbery include The Killing, Wake Up and Die, Take the Money and Run, and Dog Day Afternoon.

In addition, some video games that circle around robbery are PayDay: The Heist and PayDay 2.

robbery

Main Differences Between Theft and Robbery 

  1. Theft does not involve the use of intimidation or force to steal the property or services of another individual. On the other hand, robbery involves the use of force or intimidation to steal the property or services of another individual. 
  2. Theft can be categorized either as a misdemeanor or a felony, but robbery is always a felony.
  3. The word theft is derived from the German word thēofth. On the other hand, the word robbery originates from the Old French word robberies. 
  4. Theft can take place without the physical presence of the victim. In contrast, robbery takes place only when the victim is physically present.
  5. Forms of theft include shoplifting, fraud, and embezzlement. On the other hand, forms of robbery include armed and strong-armed robbery.
Difference Between Theft and Robbery
References
  1. https://lawtimesjournal.in/differences-between-theft-robbery/#:~:text=The%20crimes%20of%20theft%20and,someone%20else’s%20money%20or%20property.&text=Robbery%20differs%20from%20theft%20primarily,cases%2C%20the%20more%20serious%20crime
  2. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/differences-between-theft-robbery.html 

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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