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Theft vs. Larceny vs. Burglary vs. Robbery vs. Breaking and Entering in Michigan: What are the Differences?

A man uses a screwdriver to break into a car to represent this blog regarding theft vs. larceny vs. robbery vs. burglary.

Posted 11 months ago by admin


Stealing or attempting to steal is legally described in numerous ways, but why? What are the differences between theft, larceny, burglary, robbery, and breaking and entering? Aren’t they all the same?

Although some words are used interchangeably in the general public, they are not the same. In some cases, a defendant may even be charged with two or more of these crimes. What happened during the incident, what was taken, the intent, and whether or not anything was actually stolen will make a difference in the definition and punishment.

If someone you know has been arrested for theft, larceny, burglary, robbery, or breaking and entering in Michigan, contact us. Our bail bondsmen can help you pay to get him or her out of jail to await trial.

Before you contact us, it’s important to understand what the charges are against the individual, so let us break these terms down for you.

Theft vs. Larceny

Theft can apply to any situation where you take someone else’s property without permission and no intent to return it. This can include computer crimes or the taking of intellectual property.

Larceny refers to stealing a physical object, including money.

Following are the possible penalties for larceny in Michigan, although the various circumstances may factor into each particular case:

  • In Michigan a larceny would be considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail if the property stolen is valued at less than $200.
  • If the property is valued at $200 to $1,000, it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
  • If the stolen property is valued at more than $1,000, the crime would be considered a felony. It would be punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000 or three times the value of the property that was stolen.
  • If the stolen property is valued at more than $20,000, the felony would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $15,000 or three times the value of the property stolen.
  • If the property is valued between $50,000 and $100,000, the felony would be punishable by up to 15 years in prison or a fine of $25,000 or three times the value of the property.
  • If the property is valued at $100,000 or more, the felony would be punishable by up to 20 years in prison or a fine of $50,000 or three times the value of the stolen property.

Larceny vs. Burglary

While larceny refers to stealing a physical object, the word “burglary” must involve the act of breaking and entering. Breaking and entering could include acts such as:

  • Shattering a car window or breaking the lock on a car door and then entering the car
  • Breaking the door of a home or business and then entering
  • Breaking a window at a home or business and then entering

In other words, a burglar can be charged with grand larceny or petty theft.

The word burglar may also be used if someone broke into a building or home with the intent to harm or commit any felony not related to theft.

As a side note, someone who only damages a car or building without entering or intent to steal would likely be considered a vandal. The charge would likely be something such as malicious destruction of property.

Burglary vs. Robbery

The word “robbery” would be used if someone stole property while using force, violence, or instilling fear in another person. Both the victim and defendant must have been present at the time of the theft.

In a burglary, the victim does not have to be present. Additionally, although it’s typically the case, property doesn’t always have to be stolen for an incident to be considered a burglary.

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