We often hear of criminal charges involving alleged theft. In other cases, there are allegations of burglary. To most people, the difference between the two is less than clear. In the past, we have discussed in our blog how theft differs from robbery. We’ll now explain the differences between theft and burglary.
To be sure, there are similarities between theft and burglary. But the similarities are significantly outweighed by the differences. Here is a snapshot of each:
- Theft. The offense of theft is explained in Title 13, Chapter 18 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. Under A.R.S. 13-1802, it is defined, essentially, as taking control of property belonging to another person, without lawful authority. It covers what most would define as “stealing,” but also includes theft by extortion, embezzlement and misappropriation of property, “organized retail theft,” and other forms of taking property without permission or authority. In many cases, though not all, the classification of the offense (and the potential punishment if convicted) is a function of the value of the property taken.
- Burglary. In order to be convicted of burglary, interestingly, one does not have to take anything from anyone. The offense has to do with entering or remaining on or in property with the intent to commit theft or a felony. In other words, intent to commit theft might or might not be an issue in proving the case. There are three degrees of burglary: (a) third degree (class 4 felony) – entry into or remaining unlawfully in a nonresidential structure or fenced yard with intent to commit theft or a felony; (b) second degree (class 3 felony) – same as third degree, with the entry being into a residential structure; and (c) first degree (class 2 or class 3 felony) – burglary while knowingly being in possession of explosives or a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon.
To sum up, burglary and theft, while sharing some similarities, are quite different offenses, containing different elements, and having different classifications and penalties.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004