What Is The Difference Between Theft And Burglary?

It is not uncommon for the offenses of theft and burglary to be used interchangeably when describing a crime. However, there are important differences between these offenses that you should be aware of. Both crimes should be taken seriously, but the evidence needed to secure a conviction for one is very different than for the other.

Unsure of the difference between theft and burglary? A skilled theft defense attorney could answer your questions—especially if you have been charged with a crime. Do not delay in seeking guidance from Grand Canyon Law Group following an arrest for either charge.


The general concept of the crime of theft is not complex. A person commits this offense any time they knowingly take or keep the property or services of someone else without permission.

Violations of the statute can take different forms. A person could be charged with theft by taking money out of a stranger’s pocket. They could also be in violation of the law if they were allowed to borrow something valuable and refused to return it.

Theft is a crime of intent. That means someone should not be deemed guilty of this offense due to an accident. In order for the state to secure a conviction, they must be able to show that a person knowingly deprived someone else of their property with the intention of not returning it.

Whether or not this charge is treated as a felony depends on the value of what was taken. Prosecutors consider theft as a misdemeanor unless the value reaches a certain level.


The word “burglary” often conjures an image of a masked thief sneaking into a person’s home to steal their jewelry or other valuables. The truth is that there is much more to the offense. While at its core, this crime is about unlawfully entering someone else’s property, the motivation of the accused does not have to be theft-related.

As a baseline, this offense involves a person entering or remaining on the property of another person without authorization. They must also have the intent to commit a felony or any theft crime while on the premises.

There are three different classes of this offense. These classes exist to provide additional penalties when certain aggravating factors are met. For example, a person could face steeper consequences if they commit burglary while armed with a deadly weapon.


Both offenses are considered by some to be related to the taking of other people’s property, but that is not the case. In reality, it is possible to be convicted of burglary despite never having the intention to steal anything from anyone. While theft always involves an illegal taking, burglars can have varying motivations.

The extent of penalties following a conviction can also differ. Both charges are serious, but there are theft crimes that are treated as misdemeanors under the law. Burglaries, on the other hand, are always considered felonies.


Understanding the difference between theft and burglary is helpful, especially if you have been charged with either crime. A trusted criminal defense attorney can answer your questions about the legal jeopardy you face while developing a potential defense strategy on your behalf. Instead of handling your case on your own, you need to call the Grand Canyon Law Group to serve as your advocate. Reach out right away to learn more.