Theft and Robbery: Where the Lines Overlap

When an item you possess goes missing, we can only assume one of two things –we misplaced it or it got stolen. And in terms of stealing, we no longer bother to examine the circumstances surrounding the incident unless we get a chance to get our missing stuff back. But crime is not at all a black and white subject. There are several aspects of crime that overlap and may be subject to confusion. And two such types of crime are theft and robbery. But for two types of crimes of such similar nature to be given different categories, it falls to the question of what their differences are for them to merit having different names.

In hindsight, both crimes involve the loss of someone else’s property without permission. For both cases, the victim can head down to the police station to file an incident report to blotter the stolen items.

So why are the two are considered different if they have the same effect on the victim? The main difference boils down to one thing – force. In the simplest terms, robbery requires force from the assailant to steal the item from the victim directly. This can involve brute physical force, intimidation, blackmail, and the like. The robber can also make use of a weapon to scare the victim into surrendering. In all cases of robbery, the victim is made aware of the incident as it happens since it occurs right before his very eyes. Such an encounter can give him the opportunity to either fight back or find out the robber’s identity for incarceration. However, in most cases, the victim is intimidated enough to submission without the chance to fight back. It is because of this than most civilians unskilled in theft resort to this type of modus to get their desired item.

Robbery also has a larger chance of being caught than theft due to the assailant exposing himself directly to the victim. Without  proper attire, he may not be able to hide his identity during the act. Thus, a victim has a better chance of getting back at his robber and retrieving his personal belongings if the incident that occurred is a robbery.

On the other hand, theft requires the suspect to act behind the victim’s knowledge. He makes use of the victim’s lack of attention to steal from him such as when he’s sleeping or distracted by something else. He tries his best to avoid contact with the victim since it will destroy his cover during the act. Theft involves the use of several aspects such as timing, location, and distractions, to name a few. Theft requires skill from the thief as compared to robbery which uses just brute force or intimidation. Theft may also require insider information of the victim’s actions throughout the day – where he lives, eats, goes to school, and such. Such data will provide him with the perfect scenario to steal at just the right timing and location.

But regardless of their differences, both are crimes that the victim has every right to report and seek justice from. Knowledge on their difference can come in handy when seeking retribution from such heinous acts.