Overview of Theft, Robbery, Larceny, and Burglary

The four terms above might be synonymous in your mind, but there are several important distinctions between them that can be the difference between a few days or a few years in prison. While some states have laws that codify larceny as a separate crime, Illinois recognizes theft and larceny as descriptions for the same crime.


Someone commits theft when he or she gains possession or control over someone’s property through unlawful or illegitimate means, such as deception or threats. Property is defined in Illinois as anything of value. Theft is a broad term that encompasses other terms, such as robbery and burglary. A key point in Illinois law regarding theft is that the charge applies to someone who intends to permanently deprive someone of property or the use of property.


If, during the commission of theft, someone uses force or the threat of force to obtain property belonging to another person, robbery charges apply. Robbery is a Class 2 Felony, but some situations can increase the charge severity, including the age of the victim and whether you carried or used a weapon during the robbery. Armed robbery, which applies if you used a weapon during the crime, is categorized as a Class X Felony. Similar to armed robbery is aggravated robbery, which applies if you suggest or imply that you are carrying a weapon during a robbery.


Burglary is, essentially, an elevated theft charge. The extra element added to make a theft charge burglary is when someone unlawfully enters a building in order to commit a crime. In court, prosecutors must prove that a burglar intended to enter a building, without permission, to intentionally commit theft. A burglary charge in Illinois is classified as either a Class 2 or Class 1 Felony.

Charges and Penalties of Theft

Illinois statutes recognize seven different tiers of theft, ranging from a Class A Misdemeanor to a Class X Felony. Theft of items valued at less than $500 fall under the former, while Class X felonies apply to theft of property or assets valued at more than $1 million. A Class A Misdemeanor conviction cannot result in prison time longer than one year, while a Class X Felony is punishable by up to 30 years.

Because theft is such a broad term, there are many (surprising) scenarios in which you may be charged as such in Illinois. For example, simply taking possession of property that was previously stolen by someone else could land you a theft charge. If you’re facing years in prison for theft, burglary, or robbery, reach out to us for a thorough analysis of your situation and a road map forward.

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Abdallah Law

Abdallah Law has been a successful law firm serving the people of Chicago and the surrounding area for years. This success can be attributed to one thing: Our team. At Abdallah Law, protecting our clients’ rights and safeguarding their liberties is the driving force of everything we do.

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