What Is the Difference Between Theft & Robbery?

a person stealing a phone

One of the most common types of crimes that occur in Arizona is stolen property. Depending on how a crime is committed, a person can face theft, larceny, or robbery charges. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they are slightly different offenses.

What Is The Difference Between Robbery and Theft?

The main difference between robbery and theft is that theft is taking someone’s personal belongings with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of their use, whereas robbery is a crime against a person. Robbery encompasses theft, or attempted theft, plus force or intimidation. 


Most theft crimes are solely related to stealing another person’s money or tangible belongings and not things like property (land, etc.). For example, if a person shoplifts items from a retail store, it would be considered theft.

For a crime to be considered theft, the three following things must occur:

  1. The theft must include taking personal property that is either tangible or intangible. In most cases, theft crimes consist of physical goods, but it could also occur if a person steals something intangible (such as interests in stocks).
  2. The theft must occur against the owner’s interests. Theft crimes are committed without the owner’s consent unless the individual used deceit to try and take the object.
  3. To commit a theft crime, a person must take property with the intent of not returning the item.


Although robbery and theft are very similar crimes, there is one defining difference between the two. Robbery is classified as a violent crime where a person steals from another using force or the threat of force. For example, if a person enters a jewelry store and threatens to beat the salesman, steals items from the store, and leaves – it would still be considered robbery even though the thief didn’t physically hurt the salesman.

What Should I Do If I Am Facing Theft or Robbery Charges?

If you have been accused of theft or robbery, you could face serious penalties. To protect your rights and increase the chances of obtaining a positive outcome, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Our team at Suzuki Law Offices, L.L.C. has years of experience helping people facing criminal charges across the country. We handle even the most complex state and federal crimes, so we have what it takes to help you get your charges reduced or even dismissed.

Contact our Arizona criminal defense attorneystoday at (602) 842-6762 to schedule a consultation!

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