Difference and practical examples between robbery and theft

First, let’s analyze the legal difference between robbery and theft. Then, we’ll provide various practical examples for each situation, and finally, we’ll delve into the legal consequences of this differentiation:



In colloquial language, when someone takes something from us without our consent, we often say that the person has “robbed” the object. However, from a legal standpoint, the mere appropriation of someone else’s property is not always considered robbery. This is because a distinction is made between robbery and theft. Let’s see the difference:

While both robbery and theft involve the unauthorized appropriation of someone else’s property, robbery requires the presence of violence, force, or threat. On the other hand, if there is no violence, force, or threat involved, it would be considered theft.


Examples of robbery

  • While driving on the road, a vehicle blocks my path. One of its occupants, with their face covered, gets out and threatens me with a gun, demanding that I exit the car. I comply, and the individual drives away with my vehicle.
  • I’m walking down the street when a thief attempts to snatch my purse. After a struggle, the thief manages to escape with the loot.
  • As I’m walking, a hooded person threatens me with a knife, demanding that I hand over my wallet. Without hesitation, I give it to them, and the hooded person flees the scene.
  • While on vacation, burglars force the lock of my house and enter to steal.


Examples of theft

  • I arrive home in my car, briefly step out with the engine running to manually open the garage door, and in that moment, someone takes advantage and drives away with my vehicle.
  • I sit at a cafĂ© terrace and leave my purse on the chair next to me. Someone approaches, grabs the bag, and runs off.
  • While walking on the street, someone quietly takes my wallet from my pocket without me noticing.
  • I go for a walk and accidentally leave the key in the lock of my house. Someone takes advantage of the situation and enters my house to steal whatever they can.


Legal consequences

For offenders, the crime of robbery carries much more severe penalties than the crime of theft.

For victims, insurance companies may refuse coverage if a theft has occurred, and the insurance policy explicitly states that only robberies are covered. Therefore, it is important to know what our home insurance policies cover regarding robberies and thefts, as there is a legal distinction between the two.